The Invisible MetricGeneral Stargazer
I’m going to preface this article with this comment: I don’t usually write posts that are negative in nature towards CCP and/or its community in order to maintain the status quo.
A little under two weeks ago we heard the announcement that CCP was postponing its development of VR. Along with that, it was announced that a significant number of CCP staff would be let go. Most noticeably those engaged with community-related work. CCP Phantom, Shadowcat, Manifest, Logibro, Elvine, PearlJive, Leeloo, Hunter and Frame, to name but a few of them. The effect of these losses is already starting to take effect. Last night we saw the Anger Games canceled due to a termination of Thunderdome server support, which was CCP Logibros “baby”.
A day after the layoffs CCP Leeloo posted a long article on her facebook page with regards to her immersion and involvement with EVE during her time at CCP. You could tell by the way the statement was written the amount of love that she had/has for this game and the community that follows it. And therein lies the problem.
Let me explain: If you look at how EVE came into existence, it looks very similar to what people typically know as an “indie” game. At the start of its life, it had but a handful of people creating the base of what we all play in today. However, it wasn’t being made with the intention of instant interest or a money-making machine. It was being created as a labor of love. The development that was being put into it was because of what the designers thought would be cool, what the game needed to be fun.
Fast forward to 2017 and look at Eve now. CCP operates as a business, to generate a profit, by in large down to the relatively small (in the grand scheme of gaming companies, lets be honest here) success of EVE Online and the players that continue to subscribe to it. The makeup of CCP has however diversified.
A reasonable portion of CCP, especially some of the names just mentioned, came to CCP as players of the game. A lot of people, like Leeloo, fell in love with Eve. They were recognized and recruited as talent to help with the success of the game and making sure it delivered to its dedicated community, serving as a bridge between CCP internally and the desires of its community. The game became so big that it moved beyond a labor of love for the developers to making something that others enjoy playing and are happy to pay for. That love for making something better, something good, becomes what costs the least while generating the most amount of money to fulfill a need.
The community for Eve … can be somewhat of an invisible metric
The community for Eve, when you look at it from a business perspective can be somewhat of an invisible metric. Show me the data that proves how having a better community helps with player retention. Show me the data that shows how spending development time creating a tournament skin, developing tournament rules and ships, or supporting a tournament server, ultimately results in the business making money instead of losing it. Show me how Permaband, who create music that doesn’t appear in the game, helps market the game to a wider audience.
I’ve been subscribed to this game since its launch and I’ve witnessed Eve grow beyond the confines of a single shard universe a long, long time ago. Community meetups around the world exist, not exclusively in celebration of the game, but because of the community that the game has created. Eve merely serves as the common meeting ground for the discussion and interaction to begin. It’s not uncommon that the corps/alliances that exist within the game often play other games together as well. Eve attracts a certain type of person and alliances continue to serve as a filter to further refine those individuals ways of thinking. With that further refinement, the bond of friendship typically grows and flourishes. And as we’ve witnessed in the past, even relationships and families are formed because of people meeting and exploring these bonds further.
All of this, I experience and know isn’t because of Eve directly, but because of its community and supported following. Business-wise, however, there’s no metric that proves this. There’s nothing to say that I’ve continued to play Eve for the last 10 years because I’ve been meeting people at Eve London. There’s nothing to show that I’ve met some of my longest lasting friends at Eve meetups and events. Some of the best memories of my life are thanks to community created and run events and remain a large part of why both I continue to subscribe to this game and exist here and now.
But of course, because there’s no metric to prove this and the fact that the business relevance of it is somewhat nebulous, it’s not important to the bottom line. As these community-based effects are costing the business to maintain, while not generating directly measurable additional profit, why continue to pay for them?
In the last few weeks, there’s been rampant speculation and wild accusations thrown around about the future of CCP and EVE. Since I started playing, I’ve done my best to quash these in support of the community team and their view on the bigger picture within the “greater Eve community”. I’m not even a major contributor, many of you reading this will likely look and think “Who is this guy even?” But for someone like me to want to look at this and say “Well, if there was a full community team in effect, they’d be right on this with a statement or post and this wouldn’t even be happening”, then step back and do nothing myself rather than help would be inherently wrong.
I agree wholly with former CCP Leeloo’s statement, I believe that CCP may have just made the biggest mistake it ever has. I wonder if CCP, looking at the game now fully as a business, has fallen out of love with their own game, lost a large portion of its relation to its player base and has lost the passion it once had. I fear CCPs outsourced mobile game won’t be met with excitement or vigor the VR games enjoyed. Having made its money after launch, like Gunjack, it might be short-lived and forgotten about. I don’t see it forming a community or thriving from it.
I hope I’m proved wrong. I hope CCP can find a way to restore faith in us as the game’s biggest representatives of success and realize that sometimes a game can be more than a sum of its quantifiable parts.