Noobflood

 
It has been two weeks since the “This is EVE” trailer was released. Enough time to take a look at the impact it had on new player numbers. All things considered, it was not the largest influx of newbies the game has seen, that honour goes to the aftermath of the B-R5RB battle, it is however the seventh largest spike of new subscriptions EVE has experienced so far. Despite not taking the top spot, it is a remarkable event in more than one way. To begin with, most subscription spikes occur as a result of expansion releases and so far only B-R was an exception to that.

9yzQZUfNew accounts created since EVE was released. The prominent high spike marks the aftermath of B-R5RB. The current spike is on the far right

In the current case however there was neither and expansion nor a major mediagenic in-game event, it was simply a trailer which attracted so many new players. The content of that trailer does make it stand out though. This was not a cinematic fictional representation of EVE which is unrelated to actual gameplay, neither was it the spectacular presentation of an in-game battle which would be inaccessible for most new players and much less amazing to be involved in that it looks. In this trailer people could see many different facets of the game in ways that come very close to the actual experience. Consequently, the potential for disappointment after joining was much lower, and the results confirm that.

The New Breed

If one takes the EVE subreddit as an indicator, players who have recently joined knew pretty well what they were getting into and, more importantly, had a rough idea what they wanted from the game. With earlier subscription spikes, questions about tutorials and missions would abound. There was little perspective for new players and many found themselves caught in the PVE trap that is set up for them by the NPE. This time there are of course similar beginner questions, but the amount of inquiries about how to PVP as a newbie, how to explore in lowsec and nullsec and how to find suitable player corporations occur in much more frequently than I have seen before. Here are just some quotes I collected to illustrate this:

– Just started playing the game a week ago. So I just put an application in to join a corporation geared towards new players and am now relocating all my gear to their home base.

– Can anybody post some fits that would work between 1 and 4 months so I can use early and build into something for Amarr Punisher, Tormentor and Executioner. For PVP.

– So I just joined Brave Newbies today after finally finishing the tutorials. I was sitting in Base, not sure where to go from here, and someone mentioned they had found a nearby wormhole that lead straight into enemy territory. After a few minutes he asks if anyone wants to go on a suicide run. Being new and unsure what to do, I volunteered straight away because it sounded fun. So I hopped into my Merlin and off 10 of us went. It took awhile for use to find anyone, but eventually we found a group that were willing to engage us. I was nervous as hell, but I did exactly what the FC and other leaders in my fleet instructed and was able to bring down one ship before we all blew up/Ran for it.

– Straight into the game, I joined up with Brave Newbies. Now I’m not good at MMORPGs. It took me close to 2 hours to find out how to move the drones around in the tutorial mission. But then I realized how nice Brave was. They literally had seminars teaching newbies the ropes. SEMINARS. I joined WoW a few months ago to play with a friend, but he refused to join me unless I got to level 55. It made sense, it didn’t make sense for such a young player to be hanging out with such a pro. But you guys know how to make me feel welcome. 2 days in, and I can tell I’ll be playing for a long, long time. Thanks, y’all.

– We were thinking of starting with mining to build capital and then branching off to manufacturing. On top of that, assuming I can get my head fully around eve’s combat systems, doing security type things.

– Hey, guys. I’m a two day old newbro, and I’m trying to figure out how I want to make my name in New Eden. I was looking through the PDF career guide and saw that one of the careers listed is called Diplomat. My understanding is that they essentially negotiate terms between parties. I’ve done most of the normal MMO stuff in other games (raiding, PvP, playing the market, hardcore RP). This seems like something I haven’t really done before though, and I’d like to try it.

– [I am most excited about] the massive fleets of newbro PvP players in their Atrons and other newbie frigates as they start to get snapped up by corps and alliances. I have just flown out to my new home in nullsec space, and I am really keen to get my first twenty or so frigates (kindly given to me by a vet) blown up in spectacular ways.

Such posts did not only occur in the first few days after the trailer, they are still appearing daily albeit with lower frequency. The trial account creation statistics still show an increased amount of people joining which is a strong indication of actual new players coming in as the word spreads or when they have learned enough about the game to join. After B-R similar patterns were evident. Spikes that result from expansions usually take a much more short-lived form. That lends itself to the conclusion that in those cases most of the new accounts are returning players or newly created alts trying out one new feature or the other.

SIGaGzS Spikes of past year left to right: Rubicon; Battle of B-R5RB; B-R historic video released; Crius; This is EVE Trailer

There is also another aspect of this recent influx of new players that makes it special: the community reaction.

Change Of Course

The EVE player community has had its bad moments and its fair share of questionable individuals, but this time it showed itself from its best side. Bloggers, video-producers, podcasters, forum posters and redditors have stepped up to inform, advise and encourage the newcomers. Newbie friendly communities did their best to accommodate our newest subscribers. Brave Collective have gained more than two-thousand new members making them the largest alliance, and that while they are in the middle of a conflict with one of the most powerful elite forces of the game. Speaking of which, Alliance Tournament 2014 commentator Apothne of Pandemic Legion volunteered to command a PVP roam sponsored by EVE-University for new players to learn the ways of ship combat. Redemption Road’s Greygal beat the drum for her own special newbie roams too. In the first days after the trailer Reddit was full of well meant and constructive advisory threads and blog posts appeared all over the place to help any new player who might find their way to the respective sites. Sindel Pellion’s Angel Project – an initiative to help newbies who have fallen on hard times – has received over 3000 ship hulls in donations. Wherever you looked there was a warm welcome, and the new players definitely appreciated it. Many enthusiastically praised the EVE community for its great attitude. NPTS Here we have a player community with the reputation to be the most elitist, ruthless, cold-hearted bastards and scammers one can potentially encounter in an online gaming environment. In the past, EVE players have actively sabotaged attempts by CCP to run new-player events just for laughs. This time, instead of collecting newbie tears, older players appear generous and actively help newcomers to improve themselves – after blowing them up of course. It is still EVE after all. It looks like the EVE community, along with CCP themselves, have realized that they need to change course if they want the game they love – and in the case of CCP, financially depend upon – to keep on thriving. The arrogance born of ever increasing subscription numbers appears to have become a thing of the past. EVE has gone through a period of decline and the community knows that as well as CCP. Even now, with all those new players, concurrent user count has not changed significantly for the better, but that is not necessarily a reason for great concern. The downward trend has stopped even if it is not yet reversed. More importantly, the current numbers are more likely to be actual players rather than an increase in alts. In fact many people have retired several of their accounts. Some have done so because the Crius changes made it less viable for them to do industry on the side, others have retired capital ship pilots because of the Phoebe jump fatigue mechanics and we can already see even more alts taken out of the game as a result of the announced policy change on input automation.

WcgktJfConcurrent user count

Objectively it may seem irrelevant whether subscriptions come from one player with multiple accounts or many individual players, the money CCP earns will be the same. Under closer scrutiny however, there is a problem with subscription numbers inflated by multiple accounts per player. Inevitably such accounts will not be played to their full potential. A supercap pilot will only log in for large battles, an industrialist will only become active at the time when they have to take care of their production runs and multiboxers will basically only do one thing even if they do it with ten accounts at the same time. A game where the spaceships are controlled by a maximum of different individuals will be more diverse and alive with different personalities and motivations. With EVE so heavily dependent on player interaction, higher numbers of people actively engaged can only be beneficial. Furthermore, a large amount of players with many alts can have more of an impact when they leave the game if they do not transfer their accounts to someone else. The more actual people play the game, the less risk CCP faces when it comes to individuals leaving EVE. All things considered, the future looks much more promising than it did a few months ago. The malaise which was felt especially among nullsec players has transformed into optimism and there is both change and resurgent activity in the game. CCP also project an attitude of dedication to really move forward as the second decade progresses. The challenge for them will be to retain the players they have successfully managed to attract and to make efforts to draw in even more of them. One of their most important assets to achieve both goals is the community that has evolved around their game and they did well by placing that in the spotlight for their latest marketing effort.
Tags: new player, tarek, This Is EVE

About the author

Tarek Raimo

Former nullsec spy (no not under that name of course) and current failure at lowsec solo PVP, Tarek spends his time not logging in to the game as much as he keeps thinking about its social and metagame nature and sharing some of those thoughts with the CZ readers.