New Eden and the Year of Disappointment

whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap

-Galatians 6:7, King James Edition Bible

It is summer and the PCU is down in EVE Online.  It happens.  The jury is still out on the summer slump being a regular thing.  Past slumps seem to coincide more with specific situations in my view when looking at a chart from Jester’s collection.

Average players online May through September

2019 slumps hard due to the blackout that came at the far end of summer, though there was a visible slump before that.  2020 is the COVID boom tapering off after peaking in April.  2021 is largely people getting to leave the house and go places finally (so an actual summer slump). And 2022 is…  something else?

The last two years have not seen a positive trend, even outside of the summer, be there a slump or not. (Chart from EVE Offline)

EVE Offline chart two year chart

And 2022 feels different all the more so.  To start with, the game was in a slump before summer it seems.  Those are some 2005 level PCU numbers.

EVE Online feels like it is going through a trial now, greater than any it has faced.  Players have been angry at the company before.  We have had summers of rage, player protests, and varying degrees of players being mad at the company for something they have done.

Occasionally CCP listens.  They did seem to get the idea that putting blockchain into New Eden wasn’t going to be popular.  More often they dissemble or ignore the players.  They look the other way or metaphorically pat us on the head and tell us that they know best, that they have all the data, and we shouldn’t get so worked up because they know what they’re doing.

But the relationship has always been one of passion.  Players are angry because they feel that CCP isn’t handling the game correctly, that they’re going in the wrong direction, ignoring real problems, going back on promises, or diminishing the game in some way.

That isn’t always happy or fun for CCP, but it comes from a position of player engagement.  We the players are invested in this game.  We want it to get better.  We have had so many memorable moments, made so many friends, and done so many things in this game that you simply cannot do in any other video game anywhere that we don’t want it to stop.

This summer, however, has been fairly grim.  As noted above, the PCU is down more than ever.  The Pearl Abyss financials show the EVE IP shrinking again in Q2 2022, and I fully expect the Q3 numbers will be even worse.  Attempts to get wars rolling in New Eden have been met by indifference as fewer players see the point.

And I think this is in large part due to the last twelve months having been a year of almost constant disappointment, and it is starting to show results at the bottom line.

I am going to peg the start of this cycle as July 23, 2021, the day when CCP announced that scarcity would be ending in Q4.

Scarcity has been a hugely controversial topic. It was based on some barely freshman level economic philosophy and a huge helping of wishful thinking.  CCP said it was necessary to secure the game for future generations, but it struck many as an attempt to put the toothpaste back in the tube, to undo past mistakes by making players work much harder for things.

CCP said scarcity wouldn’t last forever, and we were give hope with that July announcement that the end was coming.  We had to deal with NFTs being part of the Alliance Tournament, but at least there was hope.

We had to wait until November before we got information on the New Dawn update, which had the tagline “The Age of Prosperity.”  However, it was clear from the moment CCP started to reveal its changes that we were not getting prosperity, but permanent scarcityThere were protests, which CCP dismissed, going to their usual “just Goons” response.  If Goons don’t like it, it must be good, right?

The mining changes brought some good with them, like compression… once they could get it to work right… and some simplification of mining crystals.  But overall every benefit came with strings attached with things like mining waste undoing any improvement.  CCP proudly declared that they had doubled the amount of harvestables, but had reduced them by 90% previously, and removed asteroids completely from null sec, so it was the sort of empty boast that looks like a lie, the sort of thing that just makes people angry and distrustful.

I was very sour about the state of New Eden at the end of 2021.  It felt like CCP had purposely deceived us, then scolded us for stupidly believing they really meant to end scarcity.

In the middle of this there was the Doctor Who event, which made some even angrier, as it looked like an attempt to distract from the problems of the game.  Ironically, that event ended up being pretty popular and would see the peak of user logins for 2022 so far.  But it was going to be down hill from there.

The “Age of Prosperity” was a bust.  Resources were barely increased.  Capital ships were still too expensive to build.  Battleships were priced out of the reach of new players.  And CCP was still holding onto the absurd notion that null sec players were going to go offensively mine enemy space, creating a set of high waste mining crystals for that purpose.

And while we were still angry about the economy CCP got people even more upset by selling the Prospector Pack, which featured a fully fit mining barge for cash in the web shop.

Not player produced

There were many reasons to be angry about that, not the least of which was the ship was poorly fit.  But it was CCP making ships out of thin air for cash in competition with the player economy that really pissed people off.  It seemed like such a dumb idea, so likely to inflame the player base, that I wondered if they were deliberately trying to wreck the economy in order to boost the cash shop.

That got some EVE streamers to declare a blackout of the game.

CCP eventually said they would remove the Prospector Pack from the web store, but they only did so after the mining event was over.  And the Prospector Pack remains in game to this day, being an in-game pop-up offer for those who ran the mining career agent missions.  Once again, CCP earned our distrust.

They did promise to figure out how to use player provided materials for future packs of that type, indicating that they were going to sell more fitted ships and getting people wondering if this was going to end up being a play to earn scheme.  After all, the EVE Online official Twitter account was retweeting things about Hilmar meeting with cryto companies at GDC.

Yes, they backed down on that, as I linked above, but it looked like it was really in the works.

And then there was the price increase.  CCP said it had to raise the monthly subscription price to $20 a month.  They had reasons… Russians not playing due to the war in Ukraine mostly… but players were unimpressed.  After the last couple years of in-game economic fuckery, raising the price was a bridge too far for many.  Players wanted something if they were going to pay more money.

So CCP made promises.  Fanfest would have all the answers.  They put CCP Paragon out in front of an angry mob (I feel for him too, as it should have been Hilmar or Rattati if they had any balls, but they sacrificed an underling instead) where he said:

We are announcing big content updates for fanfest. it’s the largest one we’ve ever done probably.

-CCP Paragon, Discord Q&A about the announced subscription price increase

Talk about setting the bar high.  Talk about raising expectations.

Speculation ran wild.

What we got was a bunch of promises for the future.

CCP squandered the keynote by focusing primarily on patting themselves on the back for things players were complaining about.  There were some interesting things brought up at panels during Fanfest, including ideas for Faction Warfare, something strange about alliance logos on ships, and a promise of a discount for players who subscribe multiple accounts.

But they had absolutely NOTHING ready to launch.  Even the multi-account price break took a month to show up.

It was all a huge “Trust us!” moment.  Give us more money today and we’ll make things better at some unspecified future date.

And so the PCU really began to fall off.

Some declared that it was just the summer downswing, nothing to worry about, everybody would be back come the fall.

But it feels different to me.

The EVE Online news ecosystem has shriveled up.  Imperium News barely posts anything these days.  New Eden Post declared they were not going to bother anymore.  Over at EVE News 24 even SevenUp XX Barbershop has given up on his 97 part series about why Circle-of-Two was the real victim in whatever Casino War fantasy he is still holding onto.

There are, in theory, two wars going on in null sec, but Reddit is barely buzzing at all about either.

Asher Elias, on taking the reigns of the Imperium, put out a call for people to resubscribe their capital alts, that we were going to take our big toys out and use them in the field.  But if that is going to be anything more than titans shooting structures, the enemy has to show up as well.

CSM17 member Kazanir spoke to the Imperium about what was wrong with the game and former CSM member at Brave leader Dunk Dinkle had his own post about the state of the game.  Both agreed that progression for new players has been broken, that CCP’s scarcity plan has locked in an economic order where old vets stay rich and new players stay poor.

So here we sit, more than a year after CCP announced that the end of scarcity was coming and things are palpably worse.

I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog that video game companies are not our friends.  Their statements and promises should not be trusted.  They act, as all companies should, in their own best interest.

And yet, even with that in mind, I feel like CCP has betrayed the trust of its player base, has abused our desire to continue playing and enjoying our time together in New Eden by holding out hope before us, then coming up empty when it is time to deliver.

The other day somebody showed up in the comments here and said that new players should not invest their time in EVE Online, that the deck is stacked against them, that CCP has shown its colors, that the game is dead.

I have heard that many times.  Due to the way progression works there has always been somebody fretting that if they start today that they will never be able to “catch up” to somebody who started five or ten or fifteen years ago.

I have always argued against that point of view.  It is the wrong way to look at a sandbox game.  There are so many different paths to take, so many different roles to fill, that even on day one there is something you can do.

But I feel less confident in that argument today.  I still believe it, but CCP’s actions give me pause.  Or maybe it is their inaction that really gives me pause.

The problem is that EVE Online can take a lot of investment to find a sustainable role that delivers fun.  If you’ve done the work and found your niche in New Eden, formed up with some people you enjoy playing with doing things you find fun and CCP steps in and wrecks that… well, you know what is easier than finding a new niche?  Finding another game where the company doesn’t seem bent on disruption and chaos.

Meanwhile, CCP is in a corner.  EVE Online is all they have, and all they have ever had really.

They can fantasize about how their next try at an FPS will change that, but EVE Online is the only reason they are still around.  And so they’re trying to preserve it by attempting to roll back the economy to its glory days while they nibble around the edges of issues, fixing this and adjusting that, hoping to find a balance that will keep the whole enterprise moving forward.

Those who hope for a radical change… a server wipe or a second server or a reduction of the size of New Eden as is planned on the server in China run by NetEase… will be disappointed.  Things will have to be a lot more desperate before CCP is willing to take any real risk… and they might not even then.  If they get in a real bind we will be reminded that they are owned by Pearl Abyss, and their radical solution might be cash shop, cash shop, cash shop, the way it works with Black Desert Online.

So where does this end up?  How does this get better?

I don’t know.

The loud voices in the player base have all fallen into their predictable default positions.  There is no problem.  The players are the problem.  Null sec is the problem.  Blue loot is the problem.  Abyssals are the problem.  Bitter vets are the problem.  You name it, somebody is blaming it.  And if they’re not blaming something their pushing some superficial mechanic change that will likely just make things worse.

But I think a key in fixing anything has to be CCP.  CCP is not blameless.  If your view is that the players just need to step up then you haven’t been paying attention.

I feel strongly that the last year has undermined their position with some of the core player base.  If CCP cannot demonstrate that the players should trust them, that they’re not going to remain keen to sacrifice the current player base in the name of some unknowable future, then things will not get better.

CCP makes the rules. CCP sets the tone.  CCP has things they need to make right.

And they have done this before.  After the disaster that was Incarna, they realized they needed to prove themselves to the players and actually spent time working on things that improved the game.  They have proven in the past that they can make things better.

What should they focus on?  I think the in-game economy is key, but I could see arguments for other things.

The question is whether they will do anything that addresses the state of things in New Eden or if they will continue to insist everything is great and ignore voices that say otherwise.

The Return of Law and Order

Law & Order was a show that ran for 20 seasons, from 1990 until 2010, when it finally ended.  It was one of the shows my wife and I used to watch regularly together back in the day.  We enjoyed it, and were sad to see it end, though it was very formulaic and followed a seeming set of rules that were rarely violated which often pointed to the answer of every episode.

Law & Order – The original

The pattern of the show was almost always a pre-credits sequence where the crime was committed/discovered, with the police detectives showing up and examining the scene of the crime, something that always ended with a quip from the senior detective on the show, which for many years was the late Jerry Orbach.

Then the show would run the opening credits, after which would come the investigation stage of the hour long drama… the “law” in the title… followed by the district attorney’s office prosecuting the person tracked down by the detectives… which I guess is the “order” part.

There were occasional variations or switch ups… sometimes the first person arraigned wasn’t the perpetrator, and sometimes the perp got a not guilty verdict… but it was a solid formula that spawned a whole franchise, including adaptations in France and the UK.

But the original, with its “bum bum” or “chung chung” musical notes that were a hallmark of the show, went away even as other variations carried on… or died quick deaths, like Law & Order LA.

Now, however, the original is back.  It even has some of the original cast, including Sam Waterston as District Attorney Jack McCoy, still on the job after all of these years, and Anthony Anderson as Detective Bernard, still working as a detective in homicide.

Stephen Hill, who was District Attorney Adam Schiff for the first decade of the series, seemed like an old guy when he was playing the part, but Sam Waterston is now older than Stephen Hill ever was on the show.  Meanwhile, Anthony Anderson spent a most of a decade starring in the sitcom Black-ish.

The rest of the cast has been filled in by newcomers, with Jeffrey Donovan of Burn Notice fame taking on the role as Bernard’s partner in homicide, Camryn Manheim as their Lieutenant, Hugh Dancy as the assistant DA on the “order” side of the fence, working with Odelya Halevi working as his assistant on cases.

So all the roles are filled and I am fine with all the choices, save for perhaps Hugh Dancy, who comes off as a bit of a dandy at times… though that probably fits his character, so is a minor gripe.

And all the elements of the show are in place, just like the good old days.  The pre-credits scene, the opening music with and updated credit sequence, the story flow, it is all there.

But it all feels a little wooden… a little too unsubtle… a little too much like it is trying to make a point and afraid somebody might not get it unless the telegraph it with a big red marker.

Not that the original series was a master class in subtlety. You knew the pattern.  You could often spot the killer because they most recognizable guest star wouldn’t be wasted on a subsidiary role.

Here though, every character seems to have an assigned role/point of view they are scripted in every episode to express.

Jeffrey Donovan… who I fear will never have another role as good as Burn Notice… is the brusque, cranky old white guy who must voice the politically incorrect opinion.

Anthony Anderson is the tired of it all black man who has to speak about the way minorities are treated in the US.

Hugh Dancy is the ADA who wants to win his case more than he wants justice, while Odelya Halevi has to be his conscious about right and wrong.

And I am not complaining about the show suddenly being too woke of socially aware… the old episodes could manage that now and then… as much as how the characters are so predictable that you know when they are going to go into those defined roles before they even start speaking.  Even the actors seem to realize they are checking a box as their delivery tends to go a bit flat when they are required to step up and fill those roles.

The actors in question… especially Jeffrey Donovan and Anthony Anderson… are capable of much better performances, so it really makes me wonder what is going on.  What kind of direction are they getting?

The season does get better as it goes along, and the whole thing has been renewed for another season, so it passed muster better than Law & Order: LA did, but it doesn’t have quite the same spark that the show did back in the day.

Then again, a lot has changed since the original went off the air in 2010.  Maybe it is more a sign of the changing times, the way Dragnet became something of a parody of itself as the series wound down in the late 60s.

 

Quote of the Day – This is Not Why VR has Stalled

That being said, it is worth pointing out that the world of VR currently lacks several elements of the metaverse that experts believe are key to the growth of this nascent market. For example, most VR-centric games today come without a blockchain framework; feature a poorly designed economic setup; lack tangible incentives; or have shoddy gameplay mechanics. As a result, they have small, limited user bases, a problem that has been compounded by problems of poor graphics, lack of upgradability, and low scalability.

-Adam Bem, Why the lack of metaverse integration in today’s VR ecosystem needs to be addressed

Every once in a while I think that maybe VentureBeat has decided that it doesn’t serve the best long term interests of their brand to basically run paid advertisements for Web3, blockchain, crypto, NFT scams.

Not really about Blaugust, but why not throw in a reminder about it all the same?

I mean, after their Metaverse 2 conference earlier this year, it seemed like the hosts, in summing up, ended up somewhat skeptical of the whole crypto angle while speakers like Raph Koster brought a sense of reality to a topic that tends to live somewhere between wishful thinking and full on pipe dreams.

But that is just me forgetting that VentureBeat isn’t really interested in journalism as much as cashing in on trends and making a quick buck today without a thought for tomorrow.  They have consistently and repeatedly treated all of the crypto garbage with unquestioning seriousness, never asking anybody ever a difficult question.  That isn’t any sort journalism, that is just paid advertising.

Anyway, that leads us to the quote at the top of this post, which is truly a gem.

I would certainly agree that VR has not taken off as some… like VentureBeat… thought it would more than half a decade back.  There are lots of problems, including price, expense to develop games, motion sickness, and the whole need to strap a monitor to your face that blots out the real world.

We heard just last week that Meta’s Reality Labs division, which includes Oculus and their whole metaverse plan, is losing around a billion dollars a month for the company.  It is a testament to how much Meta milks out of Facebook and Instagram targeted advertising that they can afford to lose about as much cash on Zuckerberg’s Facebook Horizon VR wet dream every month as World of Warcraft was bringing in annually during its peak.

That isn’t even enough money to get John Carmack to buy into Meta’s legless metaverse vision.

And into this mix comes Adam Bem, COO and co-founder of Victoria VR, who tells us that the reason that VR metaverse isn’t taking off is because it lacks parasitic, rent-seeking crypto integration.

Because, when you get down to it, that is the essence of blockchain and crypto.  Even if you could get past all the scams, theft, and other shady behavior, even if you could see blockchain working as intended on its best day ever, you would see its real goal is just to be a tax on digital transactions, adding no value whatsoever.

There is absolutely nothing that proponents of blockchain and crypto claim for the technology that can’t already be done better, faster, cheaper, more securely, and with less environmental destruction.  100% true.

As such, it would probably not surprise you to learn that Victoria VR, Adam Bem’s company, is putting itself forward as a developer who is going to create a blockchain, pay to earn, VR based metaverse.

You know, the thing that John Carmack is skeptical of even with a billion dollar a month burn rate.  Oh, wait, Carmack left out the blockchain!  No wonder he hasn’t succeeded!

You should take a minute to go look at the Victora VR web site, because it is the most anodyne, check all the possible boxes, no concrete details provided piece of work I have seen in a while.  The whitepaper they have available on their site is entirely about monetization, because that is the most important aspect of video game design.  Even when they superficially dip their toes into things like quests for a page and a half, it is simply about how that will introduce players to more ways to spend money.

It is monetization all the way down.

I have to imagine that this what making an MMO looks like to people who have never made an MMO.  Or a video game of any kind.  It is all generic, hand waving, high level terms and no proof that their team has the technical ability to bring anything like what they are promising into reality, virtual or otherwise.

As somebody who has followed online gaming since the 80s, and 3D virtual worlds since the late 90s… likely before Adam Bem was even born… you get a sense of who has the ability to pull something like this off and who is just blowing smoke… and Victoria VR clearly cannot pull off anything of the sort.

Friday Bullet Points about Lord of the Rings Online

Here we are at  Friday and once more it is bullet points on my mind.  But I am going to do future me a favor this time and keep it all focused on a single title.  This time around it is some tidbits about Lord of the Rings Online, ostensibly, according to my post on Monday, one of the five titles that I post about most around here.

  • Remastering Efforts

It has been more than a year and a half since Enad Global 7 acquired Daybreak, which included Standing Stone, and the announcement that the company was looking into doing a console version of Lord of the Rings Online.

That idea seemed like a huge lift back then… and it still does today.  I decided at one point that they would really have to build a new version from the ground up for consoles, and made that one of my predictions for 2022.

But we got word this past week that SSG is working on something of a remaster of the game’s graphics and user interface.  And I applaud that.  The fifteen year old game very much feels its age.  The UI was clunky and icons indistinct back when it launched, and in the age of wide screen monitors, it really looks bad when you try to scale up individual UI components.

The problem here is that it sounds like a superficial make over that will fall far short of what it would need to get the game onto consoles.  But maybe they have other plans for that as they are in a period of staffing up to tackle the challenges of a fifteen year old game that has suffered from no small amount of neglect.

Related:

I hope this ends up with an improved experience.

  • Anor Transfers as the First Legendary Server Shuts Down

The LOTRO Legendary server Anor is reaching the end of its time and will be sailing west at the end of the month.  Launched back in late 2018, it was SSG’s first try at a fresh start, nostalgia focused special server.  Readers of the blog may recall that I dove right in and played through the initial content and into Moria before the experience fell by the wayside.

Oversell much?

While I didn’t keep up with it after Moria, I found the initial content experience quite fun and will probably give it a try again some day… once they get that remaster thing above in gear because I have a wide screen monitor now and the UI looks like garbage on it… distractingly so.

But that is another tale.  For now, Anor is going away and if you want to keep your characters from that server you will be able to transfer them off between now and the end of the year.

A FAQ has been posted, which opens with:

The Legendary World of Anor will be closing to public log-in on August 31st, 2022, with the world formally becoming unavailable for log in after our regular weekly restart on the 31st. Through the end of the year free character and shared item transfers will remain available from Anor to any other non-Legendary game world. After December 31st, 2022, the Anor game world will be closed permanently, and any remaining characters will not be able to be transferred or accessed.

I do wonder at SSG’s in ability to do a server merge, the way that EverQuest does when its special servers reach the end of their lives and everybody ends up on the Vox server.  No doubt another example of the clunky nature of LOTRO‘s development.

I have one character I want to save from Anor, I just have to figure out where I ought to put him.

  • Echoes of a Cease and Desist

Also in the news over the last month or so was the private/pirate LOTRO server Echoes of Angmar, which was attempting to piece together the game as it existed in its early days. (Web site archived here in case it goes missing soon.)

A distant echo of a lost time

Having played the game from beta and through its launch, I am not sure I see the appeal.  Maybe my glasses are lacking in sufficient rose tinting, or maybe I like my nostalgia in a light form with some things, like that map of the Old Forest, available to hand.

But who am I to judge?  I have often said that there is no feature so bad that it isn’t somebody’s favorite thing in a game.

Because it was in the news it attracted the attention of Middle-earth Enterprises, which looks after the works of the late Dr. Tolkien and the related copyrights and licensing agreements.  They sent out a cease and desist letter to the team:

Dear Echoes of Angmar team,

We have noted the Echoes of Angmar game that you have posted and we appreciate and share your enthusiasm for the Tolkien works, and specifically for the developers and creators of the epic MMO, The Lord of the Rings Online. Judging from your website and Discord, you are individuals who possess a boundless enthusiasm for LOTRO, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. We’re here to acknowledge your enthusiasm, and thank you for your fandom. Unfortunately, we, as trademark holders and stewards of the Tolkien works, more often than we’d like, must deliver some potentially difficult news. As your business is using the Tolkien works and trademarks in an unauthorized manner without benefit of a license, we must ask you to cease.

As stewards of the Tolkien works, we take our role very seriously in order to protect the works for all time, on behalf of fans everywhere. As owners of the intellectual property rights, we are charged with protecting those rights both morally and legally. Unfortunately, Echoes of Angmar uses specific content from the books and from our Licensee for The Lord of the Rings Online without the benefit of a license. Honestly, it breaks our hearts to post letters like this one. It is not uncommon for fans to create things reflecting an affection for the Tolkien works. It is thus with a heavy heart that we must ask that you immediately cease all of your unauthorized use of Echoes of Angmar, and all other Tolkien-related IP on all platforms, including Discord, Youtube and on https://www.echoesofangmar.com/.

We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have on the subject, and wish you all the best in your future duly authorized endeavors.

Kind regards,

Middle-earth Enterprises

I have seen a number of comments about the gentle and even conciliatory tone of this letter, relative to what one sees coming from the likes of Nintendo or Square Enix or Blizzard or Disney when somebody is running loose with their copyrighted material.

And it is true, this is a kinder and gentler approach.  And perhaps that will mollify some fans, as no doubt the company has to issue this sort of thing on a reasonably regular basis.  But the results are the same in the end.  Their heart may be heavy, but not heavy enough to balance out the weight of the pocketbook that keeps them all paid.

So it goes.

Related:

Fast and Slow in Terokkar Forest

The group picked back up again on Sunday in its quest to get to level 70, carrying on from where we left off in Terokkar Forest.  We left off last week with the quest to head on down to Allerian Stronghold, which is the big quest hub for the zone.

Terokkar Forst so far

Allerian Stronghold also has a flight point, so as we straggled on to the game we rode on down and met at the flight master to make sure everybody clicked on that.

Meeting up by the flight master

After that, it was time to roam around the place to vacuum up the quests available.  This was the era of peak quest hub density and I think we must have had a dozen quests before we headed on out to start completing them.

Some of our quest choices

There was some variety in the mix.  We had to find somebody, explore something else, slaughter some minions one place, slay some named in another, and collect things… Olemba seeds, which are on the ground and worg tails, which are attached to the worgs that wander the forest.

There were four of us as usual, though we had a change out.  Moronae the druid, who ran with us last week, got swapped for Beanpole the warlock as we continued to try and work out what group we should take into Northrend.  So no druid buff, but we did get health stones… once Beanpole remembered how to make them.

I don’t think I have done anything in Terokkar Forest since I was going for the Loremaster title back in 2014.  It is very much of the mold of the expansion, which I have complained about in the past.

The odd thing is that, in doing it as a group, some aspects get smoothed over.  For example, we had to meet up with Private Weeks (no relation to Honeysuckle), who sends you into a hot spot to first scout while in disguise, then to go in and slay various mobs.

Our man Weeks

I recall doing this solo, as a paladin, back in the day and that it was a pain in the butt.  A somewhat constrained space with lots of mobs not very well spaced out, with some walkers roaming about to keep things interesting, meant that it was easy to get in over your head inadvertently.

But with four of us grinding things down it was a snap.  Or was a snap when we could remember to stick together.  We have a bit of a habit of wandering off and getting into trouble.  It makes life hard on the healer.  We were able to get through that fairly well and without loss.

Other quests though, they are made worse by the presence of a group.  For example, the worg tails mentioned above.  Those are drops and we all needed 12.  However, they don’t drop as often as one would hope.  I would estimate less than 50% of the time a tail came up.  So we needed 48 tails but probably killed a lot more worgs than that while we were on.

More worgs

I didn’t even get all my worg tails before we were done for the day and logged back on during the week to collect the remaining four.  I just wish one of us had been a skinner.  There were a lot of worg corpses to clear up.

The Ombra seeds were not so bad, once we realized they were in the little blue pod on the ground.  They were scattered all over and we seemed to take it in turns to focus on grabbing them, so one person would finish then somebody else would take over.

We also stopped to catch Beanpole up on the quests he missed last week, which meant slaying the moths again.  Another very low drop rate.

Die moth, die!

Overall though we managed to carry on and made some decent progress with the xp boost in effect.  Ula was the first of the group to hit 65, and the rest of us are pretty close behind.  We managed to get through most of the first round of quests and picked up some of the next round, which sent us into the Bone Wastes for a simple kill quest.  That was incentive enough.

So we’re carrying on.  I remain mixed on the whole expansion.  Also, I had forgotten what Khadgar looked like

I met Khadgar in a later expansion and… he didn’t look like that

I have been mostly holding off and trying to level with the group, so when I have a bit of time I get out my hunter, who is level 63 at this point and… well… I remember why a hunter was my main alt back in the day.  Send in the pet, stand back and shoot, let things sort themselves out… it is relaxing compared to the paladin, and the paladin is stronger in Outland than he was back in vanilla.

Of course the hunter is still short a bag in order to hold ammo and has to keep food around for his pet, so he is always short of inventory space.  But he is much easier to play over all.

The EVE Online July Monthly Economic Report Reads About the Same as June

The July Monthly Economic Report for EVE Online has arrived, so it is time to dive into that.

EVE Online nerds harder

Production

July 2022 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

  1. The Forge – 16.31 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  2. Delve – 13.89 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Vale of the Silent – 11.85 trillion (Fraternity)
  4. Lonetrek – 6.99 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. The Citadel – 5.79 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Tribute – 5.09 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. Fade – 3.56 trillion (WE FORM BL0B)
  8. Heimatar – 3.39 trillion (Minmatar High Sec)
  9. Sinq Laison – 2.91 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  10. Malpais – 2.91 trillion (PanFam)

Total production according to the regional stats added up to 109.7 trillion ISK in value, about the same as June’s 110.59 trillion ISK production.

The data for the production chart above shows a total of 79.75 trillion ISK produced, which is also very close, if down slightly, from June’s 81.28 trillion ISK reported.

So production looked to be flat over the last two months, though the chart itself, which is a trend line based on daily production data, does seem to be trending downward all the same.  I suppose August will tell us whether that line is really headed downward again or not.

As for where production was happening, you see a mix of high and null sec regions in the top ten regional data above, while the sub-chart for production shows:

July 2022 – Production by Security Band

Low sec has an increasing share of late, but high and null sec are where production happens in New Eden.

Destruction

There are a couple of small wars going on in null sec, with Fraternity attacking Brave and Volta in Pure Blind while the Imperium has been winding itself back up again and attacking FI.RE in the southeast.  Overall though destruction remained flat, with the regional data reporting a  total of 27.48 trillion ISK, on par with the 27.08 trillion that was recorded in June.

The top regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 1.62 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  2. Pochven – 1.55 trillion (Triglavian)
  3. Pure Blind – 1.42 trillion (Brave/V0LTA)
  4. Lonetrek – 1.31 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. Delve – 1.22 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Vale of the Silent – 1.08 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. The Citadel – 1.08 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  8. Metropolis – 1.04 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. Sinq Laison – 913 billion
  10. Perrigen Falls – 710 billion (PanFam)

Pure Blind at least made the cut in the top ten.  The Imperium’s area of operation down south is way down the list, but we were distracted by a leadership upheaval in July.

The total from the Produced/Destroyed/Mined chart data was 28.74 trillion ISK destroyed, again lined up with June’s 27.59 trillion number.  So things remained about the same.

As for the destruction by security band sub-chart from above, it remained about the same as well.

July 2022 – Destruction by Security Band

So it goes.  At least the numbers did not go down.

Trade

The top ten regions for trade in July were:

  1. The Forge – 381.46 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 33.21 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Lonetrek – 15.17 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 11.81 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Delve – 11.80 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Metropolis – 10.43 trillion (Hek)
  7. Perrigen Falls – 7.54 trillion (PanFam)
  8. Heimatar – 7.25 trillion (Rens)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 5.37 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. Essence – 4.05 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

Trade in the regional stats totaled out to 521.5 trillion ISK, down from the 572 trillion ISK reported in June.  10 trillion of that drop was in Jita, while other regions showed minor adjustments in value.

ISK Faucets

Now to the money, starting off with the faucet end of the big sinks and faucets chart.

July 2022 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

If you cannot read the numbers on that chart, the top six faucets for July were:

  • Commodity – 48.1 trillion (up 3.8 trillion)
  • Bounty Prizes – 20.3 trillion (down 0.4 trillion)
  • Trig Invasion Payouts – 13.6 trillion (up 0.1 trillion)
  • Incursion Payouts – 11.7 trillion (down 0.2 trillion)
  • ESS Bounty Payouts – 8.9 trillion (down 0.1 trillion)
  • Agent Mission Rewards 3.3 trillion (even with last month)

As with much of what I have covered so far, sinks are pretty much on par with last month.

July 2022 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

The one exception on that list is commodities, which saw a jump in July.  However, looking at the commodities over time break out, that looks like a spike driven by the Minmatar Liberation Day events.  Those are the green line, miscellaneous.

July 2022 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

You can also see bounty encrypted bonds are creeping up.  July saw 7.56 trillion ISK in reserve bank thefts, and those pay out in bonds, which must then be taken to a low sec NPC in order to redeem them for ISK.  That means that ESS main and reserve banks getting robbed doesn’t necessarily line up with commodities.

July 2022 – ESS Regional Stats

You can see that there are still 51 trillion ISK in bonds locked on up ESS reserve banks in New Eden.  Oh, and as expected, most reserve bank heists are the local sovereignty owners collecting ISK from their own banks.  Milking is the method.

July 2022 – Reserve Bank “Thefts”

So commodities are up, but not necessarily because wormholers are bagging more sleepers and turning their loot.

Meanwhile, in the regional stats, bounty prizes for blowing up NPCs showed the following as the top ten regions:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.1 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Perrigen Falls – 1.64 trillion (PanFam)
  3. Delve – 1.44 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Fountain – 1.33 trillion (Imperium)
  5. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.21 trillion (PanFam)
  6. Querious – 1.04 trillion (Imperium)
  7. Catch – 957 billion (Imperium/Others)
  8. Malpais – 950 billion (PanFam)
  9. Insmother – 838 billion (FI.RE)
  10. Tenerifis – 764 billion (FI.RE)

No particular surprises on that list, save for the fact that FI.RE were still managing to rat in Insmother and Tenerifis.  I expect neither region to make the top ten list for August.

The total is 27.11 trillion, down a bit from June’s 27.9 trillion, keeping with the whole theme so far.

Unlike last month though, total ISK in the game went up.

July 2022 ISK balance

Again, the July theme, with faucets and sinks being very close to the June numbers.  The main difference was the active ISK delta, which is how much ISK CCP counts out of the game due to player inactivity or due to seizure by the security team.  That was 53 trillion ISK in June, but just shy of 15 trillion ISK in July.

Was security on vacation (quite possibly), or have we hit the bottom of the trough when it comes to players exiting the game?  We’ll have to keep watching to see.

July 2022 – Money Supply

Meanwhile, the velocity of ISK, which I have been thinking even more about since Kazanir’s talk on Sunday, continues to decay… though not as much as previous months I suppose.

July 2022 – Velocity of ISK

Mining

And, finally, the resource inputs into the economy, mining.

Mineral prices continued to climb up from their recent low, though they still remain at an all time high.

July 2022 – Economic Indices

Additionally, the Secondary Producer Price Index, which has been on its own trajectory for a while, started to climb with mineral prices, while the Primary Producer Price Index, which has at least maintained some marginal relationship with the mineral price line, has started to collapse.   And the Consumer Price Index remains fixed, all of which seems indicate that maybe the CPI isn’t measuring the right things… like PLEX related goods.

Overall, the regional data reported that a total of 14.5 trillion ISK value was mined in July, down from 16.46 trillion in June.  The top regions for mining were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 626 billion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 560 billion (Imperium)
  3. Aridia – 559 billion (Amarr Low Sec)
  4. The Forge – 549 billion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. Metropolis – 526 billion (Minmatar High Sec)
  6. Domain – 493 billion (Amarr High Sec)
  7. Derelik – 473 billion (Amarr High Sec)
  8. Lonetrek – 467 billion (Caldari High Sec)
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 437 billion (PanFam)
  10. Malpais – 416 billion (PanFam)

Mining remains fairly well split among the security bands relative to the populations that live there.  As noted previously, the resumption of capital production… or at least dreadnought production… has been driving gas mining as it is now required to build them, which is why you see the bump in wormhole and low sec mining since April.

July 2022 – Mining by Security Band

The data from the produced/destroyed/mined chart up at the top of the post indicates that a total of 20.7 trillion ISK in value was mined, down from the 27.69 trillion ISK the same chart reported in June.

That looks like some more serious tapering off than some of the other aspects of the economy.  Given that mineral prices are going up, which should be an incentive to mine, I wonder if that slump is an early indicator that other numbers may fall or if people are just on vacation.

We also have moon mining numbers.  I messed up on that last month, the first month they appeared, by reporting them in billion ISK units, when in fact they were only counted in the millions.  I have corrected that in the June MER post, but wanted to cop to my mistake here.  Probably a sign as to how many people read down this far that I can be off by an order of magnitude and nobody calls me out.  Anyway, the July numbers with the correct units were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 257 million
  2. Delve – 198 million
  3. Perrigen Falls – 146 million
  4. The Kalevala Expanse – 137 million
  5. Domain – 135 million
  6. The Citadel – 131 million
  7. Malpais – 119 million
  8. Insmother – 111 million
  9. Genesis – 93 million
  10. Metropolis – 89 million

That isn’t a lot of ISK value when it comes to moon mining.  I make more from Planetary Industry than that on my main account every month.  Once again, I am brought back to Kazanir’s Sunday talk and the value of null sec space and moons.

And it isn’t even a null sec only thing.  Low sec, once a battleground for moons, doesn’t rate and high sec 0.5 systems are making the top ten.

Overall there was a total of Total 3.32 billion ISK value, down from 3.995 billion reported in July.

And that is about all I have in me for July.  The mining volume over time charts didn’t change much for July, except for ice mining, which showed an increase.  So there we go.

As tends to happen, much of what I saw this month needs next months numbers to establish a pattern or present a new hypothesis.

Related:

Kazanir and the Progression Curve in EVE Online

With The Mittani gone we have been having some different people speak at the weekly coalition fireside meetings, which take place on Sunday at the meeting point between EUTZ and USTZ peak times.  So we have had TheAdj, Asher, and this past week, Apple Pear speak to the coalition about what is going on.  It is usually war and policy updates, calls for help on specific fronts (more PI production please!), and a few questions from the audience.

This week, after Apple Pear’s terse comments… he is a man of few words and we respect that… we got a second speaker, Kazanir.

Kazanir is on the GSF finance team and also a new member of the CSM, having been at the top of the Imperium ballot in the CSM17 election.

The CSM17 Winners

Kazanir wanted to speak to us about EVE Online, its current issues, and what he thinks the problems might be.

I know, everybody has their pet theory about why “EVE is dying” this week.  I know I do.  If there isn’t a Reddit thread about it on any given day it is a minor miracle.  Most of them focus on symptoms and quick fixes or wishful thinking about turning back the clock to a more glorious era when we didn’t have… *checks notes*… warp to zero as an option.

Seriously, people are still bringing that up and that has been gone since the Revelations expansion back in 2006.

Anyway, Kazanir, who came back to EVE Online for World War Bee and got deeply involved in helping keep the coalition afloat and able to pay its bills, took his election to the CSM seriously and began to research what has happened over the years and how we got to where we are today.

His first discovery was that, so far as null sec is concerned at least, all the elements of the game have pretty much been in place since 2005’s Red Moon Rising expansion.  By that point the game had dreadnoughts, carriers, supercarriers (motherships back then), titans, tech II production, moon mining, player owned structures, null sec sovereignty, and the basics of everything that makes null sec what it is even today.

Yes, things have changed since then.  There is no AOE titan doomsdays through cynos obliterating whole subcap fleets… something else that gets asked for now and then on Reddit… and moon sovereignty is now two sov systems ago.  But the essentials were in place.

And with that things carried on and wars were fought about which books have been published.

Until they didn’t.  So the question became what changed, and Kazanir has two working theories on what is missing from the game.

  • Progression – The Curse of Cheap Capitals and Easy Skill Points

The first item Kazanir brought up was progression.  For a long time titans, while not as rare as CCP thought they would be, were still pretty special ships.  The battle at B-R5RB probably had more impact on the game than the two battles at M2-XFE because titans were just tougher to get back then.

Getting into a titan took a lot of time and planning and ISK.  Time and ISK were a barrier to capital proliferation and made titans an aspirational goal.  You had to work and wait to get one.  Even if you bought a titan pilot at the character bazaar, there was still ISK to be earned for both the pilot and the hull.

That went away for with some often discussed changes.  Rorquals, skill injectors, and the opening of the ISK faucet with super ratting all combined to make titans much more easily obtained.

If you could get into a carrier… and even I was able to get into a carrier before these changes… you could bulk up your wallet and spend the ISK on skill injectors to make a titan alt right away.  Or you could just buy PLEX and sell it on the market.  ISK was all around us.

Meanwhile, Rorqual mining… also a big ISK earner for pilots, though not an ISK faucet… made collecting all the minerals required to build capitals, all the way up to titans, but faster and cheaper.

Somewhere I have a screen shot of the price list from a capital building service in Delve back in the heyday of the titan boom and titan hulls were maybe 60 billion ISK, while supercarriers were under 20 billion.  It was a bonanza for pilots who wanted to fly big iron.

For Reavers Secret Santa a couple of years back I gave somebody a fully fit Apostle because it wasn’t even a 2 billion ISK spend.  Somebody gave me a Ninazu the next year.  No big deal.

It was clearly out of hand and CCP felt they had to do something about it.  After two years of slow nerfs to Rorquals and capital ratting, CCP decided to really bring the hammer down and we got austerity as a permanent feature of New Eden.

There is less ISK coming into the economy, everything costs more, and the resources to build things are harder to come by.  Did this solve the problem?

Kazanir says “no.”

What he sees is an end to progression.  After years of titans rolling off the assembly line like sausages, they are now very expensive to build or replace.  PLEX is more expensive.  Skill injectors are more expensive.  To get from new player to titan pilot is now a much more arduous journey… or expensive if you want to credit card your way into the big hulls.

Pilots, corps, and alliances that got in on the boom years now have a leg up.  Kazanir says that austerity helped us win World War Bee because the Imperium held enough of a capital advantage that we couldn’t be overwhelmed and the economy no longer supported the ability to catch up even though we were stuck in a single constellation in Delve.

So what should CCP do?

Kazanir’s idea is to restore progression, which means loosening up the economy and minerals at one end of things while adding more progression at the other end.  Tech II capitals, supers, and titans, more faction capitals, maybe something beyond titans… something to give people an aspiration goal, including those who already have a few titans sitting in hangars… that will also push the economy by increasing demand.  The velocity of ISK has been on a long downward trend, and now the concurrent player numbers have joined its slide.

He says that it can’t be a WoW-like progression treadmill.  But right now there is just stagnation due to CCP’s dramatic clamp down on the economy.

  • Moon Mining and the Value of Space

The other item that Kazanir brought up was that holding null sec space doesn’t have any particular value.  This was due to changes made by CCP to moon mining.

Moons used to be a big conflict driver.  We invaded Fountain and fought TEST back in 2013 ostensibly because we wanted their moons.  Treaties and unlikely alliances and wars of aggression were fought over moons.

One of the big Upwell structure changes was drilling platforms replacing the old moon mining POS arrays.  Moon mining went from a passive activity to a very active one where you needed multiple pilots to collect the yield of a frack.  As CCP Rattati told us all on Reddit, “solo moon mining isn’t a god given right.”

The problem, as Kazanir lays it out, is that there is no way to turn space profitable by taking it in any sort of reasonable time frame.  Back in the day you could bash somebody’s POS, replace it with your own, and be mining moon goo right away.  There is no conflict driver because moons take a month to get spun up, need a fleet to mine out, and the output is not all that valuable any more.

So there needs to be a new conflict driver in null sec that makes space worth holding, that makes it worth a small group grabbing some distant constellation or even a system so they can do something with it beyond planting a flag.

We’re out burning down FI.RE space right now, but we have no intention of keeping it.  It adds no value and is too far from home for us to hold and maintain and farm.

Does that mean we should go back to passive POS mining?  Probably not.  But something needs to drive conflict beyond the major powers just shooting each other in order to burn down some structures and go home.

  • Now What?

Is any of this true?  I mean, it sounds reasonable.  Certainly the traditional way for an MMO to get out of economic stagnation is to grow and inflate itself out the problem, to give players more money and expensive new toys to build or buy.  Players don’t love it when it becomes a recurring endless treadmill of progression.  But right now the veteran player base, the core of any game, has no real progression at all.

Likewise, the current structure and sovereignty system has been seen as more of an impediment that an incentive for war.  I’ve been on eight hour long sov tug of war battles where it is just a grind to see which side will get tired and go home.  That isn’t sparkling game play.

Can Kazanir do anything about this on the CSM?  Probably not.

He can bring his ideas to CCP, but they have to be receptive and, the current team running the game has been sticking to its guns that the only way to preserve the game is to keep the economy stuck in low gear lest players advance too quickly.

Anyway, it will be something to watch in the coming year.

I have tried to transmit Kazanir’s ideas to a blog post, but I fear I have not done him justice.  The fireside was recorded however, and that recording is up on a public server if you want to listen to him speak yourself.  It is about a 15 minute listen.

Kazanir starts speaking at the 5:40 mark if you wish to jump ahead and get straight to that.

Related:

Blaugust and Introductions

We are now into the second week of Blaugust and not only haven’t we lost anybody yet… that I know of in any case… the total number of people signing on for the event actually grew.  I believe we are up to 67 participants.  Not bad for 2022.

Blaugust time is coming to town…

Especially encouraging for the hobby aspect is that we have two dozen blogs that have signed up for the event for the first time.  Rather than posting the whole participant list this time around, I’ll post just them… since Belghast has been good enough to call them out on their own tab on the participants list spreadsheet.  Please find a moment to visit them.

  1. A Day in the Life of Flash
  2. A Geek Girl’s Guide
  3. A nerdy fujo cries
  4. A Vueltas Por los Mundos
  5. Blogging with Dragons
  6. Cinder Says
  7. Cubic Creativity
  8. Dice, Tokens, and Tulip
  9. Digital Visceral
  10. Dispatches from Darksyde
  11. Everything is bad for you
  12. FOB IV: A Blog
  13. Frostilyte Writes
  14. Gaming Omnivore
  15. Hundstrasse: Rambles About Games
  16. justcallmeroybert
  17. Kay Talks Games
  18. Ludo Llama
  19. Meghan Plays Games
  20. Monsterlady’s Diary
  21. Overage-Gaming
  22. The Ghastly Gamer
  23. Alligators And Aneurysms
  24. Breakingwynd

It is still not too late to join in.  You can find all of the Blaugust information at these helpful links:

Each week of Blaugust has a theme that participants can join in on should they wish.

The Blaugust Calendar

This is introducing yourself week, and I suppose I can manage that in any number of ways.

The easy and obvious introduction is me, Wilhelm Arcturus, and the fact that I have been blogging here at this URL for going on 16 years.  In that time I have written and hit “publish” on more than six thousand posts which add up to about as many words as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

The general theme of the blog is video games, with a focus on online games, especially those that we used to call MMORPGs.

More specifically, while I write about other games now and then, I tend to write about the same half dozen titles pretty consistently.   If take a peek at the categories drop down on the side bar, you will see my most written about titles are:

  • EVE Online
  • World of Warcraft
  • EverQuest II
  • EverQuest
  • Lord of the Rings Online

They all have the classic MMORPG vibe.  I don’t play all of them at the same time… I am generally playing EVE Online and one of the other titles at any given moment… but I do tend to keep an eye on all of them and will write about news and changes about them even if I am not currently subscribed and playing.

There are some other titles that come up fairly often, like Minecraft and Valheim, but it is pretty much those five that tend to dominate.

And while I keep up with the news and expansions and such, this isn’t really a news site.  And it certainly isn’t a theory crafting or strategies site.

It is more of a recounting of my adventures in these titles, opinions and reactions to changes, and a long term tracking project.  Towards that latter item, I am always that person who comes back with a post they wrote five years ago when the company said they were doing something and now they say they are not doing that at all and reminds readers of the history of things.

I don’t like facts without context, so I try to add context… and opinion.  I have opinions.

A co-worker once described my style as “strong opinions, loosely held.”

That is to say that I often grab onto an idea or hypothesis and run with it… but that when evidence disproves it I will change my mind with the evidence.  For example, I am of the opinion that CCP’s restructuring of the economy in EVE Online has been bad for the game, that it was based on a flawed philosophy that might best be described as wishful thinking, and that the evidence to support my view is there in the monthly economic report and the online player count numbers that CCP provides as well as the Pearl Abyss quarterly financials.

If CCP came out with some evidence that tended to disprove my opinion, I would certainly listen.  However, the company has mostly offered more unsupported philosophical statements and hand waving generalizations about the future of the game.  As such, I remain unmoved.

On the other hand, I have conceded points to many I have argued with over the years, including Gevlon, who ended up being right about the whole player run market in EVE Online.  CCP “fixed” that as well with their economic revamp.

That doesn’t mean I roll over whenever somebody has a counter argument.  People often think their opinion counts as fact.  Anybody who has been around the blog neighborhood for a while knows one or two bloggers who have decided their opinions are fact.  So when somebody come around in the comments and argues, for example, that WoW Classic was not worth the resources expended by Blizzard or that CCP should turn EVE Online into a completely different game, I am generally unconvinced as the evidence is not on their side.  So I will push back on that sort of thing.

Does that tell you enough about me?

If you want to know what sort of gamer I am, there is always the Quantic Foundry gamer profile quiz.  I’ve done that a few times before… and I have opinions… and I will probably do it again.  Maybe even this week.  There has probably been something new added since last I took it, and it is always good for a blog post.  But here are past results:

If that isn’t helping you, I have also written a series of posts… usually under the “In Person” category… about myself and my experiences outside of video games and the blog.

Or, perhaps you can find some element of me in how I write.  I write in something of a casual tone, closer to the way I speak than the way I write formal documents at work or did back in school.  This leads to some quirks of its own, like my having to go back and remove the word “and” from six consecutive paragraphs.  That is something that isn’t as noticeable in conversation as it is on the page.

I am also not particularly prone to use exclamation points, all capital letters, or obscenity haphazardly.  I generally reserve those for special occasions so they will stand out and provide the emphasis I am going for with their usage.

I am also reluctant to say I “love” or “hate” something here, if only because we’re talking about video games most of the time here and from time to time I feel like those words are used a little more frivolously than they should be.  I have noticed this leading me into an odd situation where I will sometimes say, “I do not love this idea” or “I do not hate this feature,” which sort of backs myself into something adjacent or a notch removed.  Of maybe I just overthink things.

Anyway, a throw away word I use to change topics or indicate I am wrapping something up, those are at least some clues to who I am.  You can take from that what you will.

The Road to the EVE Online Alliance Tournament XVIII

The next EVE Online Alliance Tournament has been announced.  It returned last year after a three year hiatus, but it looks like CCP wants to carry on with the event.

Alliance Tournament 18

Signups for the tournament will kick off on August 9th, this coming Tuesday.  A list of official rules for entry into the tournament will be posted at that time.

Each Alliance Tournament has an in-game faction as a sponsor, and this year it is the Minmatar Republic.  The prize ships come from the sponsoring faction.  However, in order to keep the tournament “sustainable,” CCP will not be rolling up new ships for the prizes, but will be recycling past prize ships, the Freki and the Mimir, which are based off of the Rifter and Rupture ship models.  The ships won’t be direct copies of the original versions that were prizes in ATVII, but will be variations on that theme.

In addition, there will be some adjustments to the rules, which will include:

  • The IGC thanks the Mordus Legion for their input in the last tournament! We will be adjusting their revised point values, while, simultaneously, making a few of the Minmatar vessels a little more favorable.
  • The IGC has decided to retain the ‘Mercenary’ rule in Tournaments going forward, capping off at a maximum of 10 potential mercenaries per team.
  • The hull limitation rule will be expanded further this year – in scenarios that feature a duplicate hull, the overall ship point value for that hull increases by 1 point.
  • A rolling Conquest ban will be in effect during our Best-of-Three (Bo3) and Best-of-Five (Bo5) matches. Simply put, in Round 1 if Team A wins, it cannot bring that same winning comp in Round 2, but if it moves to Round 3, the comp that was banned out for Team A becomes available again.
  • Penalties – Minor revision here to make it clear – repeat offenses in matches will result in increasing penalties incurred at the discretion of the referees.

In addition, in a follow on to CCP’s statement about player safety and responsibility during company sponsored events, rosters will be vetted and capsuleers that have been problematic may be removed from participation.  The text:

Given the recent policy update, Tournaments are now included under CCP-led initiatives that will review individuals’ account histories for Terms of Service violations. The roster for each team is now going to have a limit on the number of pilots able to fly in the Tournament. Whilst all pilots within an Alliance will be eligible to enter the Alliance Tournament, up until the Roster lock date, when it comes to that cut-off date, each team will be required to submit the names of up to 30 pilots (plus up to an additional 10 Mercs). Those pilots will each be checked that they are not in violation of the revised policies. Any individuals or teams suspected of trying to circumvent this policy will be subject to removal from the tournament and potentially additional CCP-supported initiatives.

As for the timeline, signups commence on Tuesday, with the main event running the second and third weekends of November.  CCP has finally figured out that the US has a major national holiday on the fourth weekend of November.

  • 9 August – Signups open
  • 23 August – Signups close
  • 30 August – Roster (and Merc) lock / Thunderdome access
  • 1/2 October – Trials Tournament Weekend 1
  • 8/9 October – Trials Tournament Weekend 2
  • 18 October – Flagship Lock (Schedule Release)
  • 12/13 November – Alliance Tournament XVIII Weekend 1
  • 19/20 November – Alliance Tournament XVIII Weekend 2

Related:

Blizzard Gets a Boost in Q2 2022 from Diablo Immortal

It is time once again for the Activision Blizzard quarterly financials and once again they are playing the “we’re being acquired so we don’t have to answer questions” card, just dropping the numbers on the investor relations site and calling it a day.

Activision Blizzard

Whatever.  Bobby Kotick is going to get even richer out of this.  There is no justice, but we were already pretty sure of that.

The overall company reported revenue of $1.64 billion, down from the $1.77 billion earned in Q1 2022, and even further down from the $2.3 billion a year ago in Q2 2021, but this time around it wasn’t Blizzard dragging down the team… not as much as last quarter at least.

Blizzard revenue in Q2 2022 was $401 million.

For once of late that was an uptick, as Blizz brought in just $274 million in Q1 2022.

Still, that was down from $419 million in Q4 2021, the $493 million posted in Q3 2021, the $433 posted in Q2 2021, and the $483 million posted in Q1 2021.

As for news about Blizzard, which is the only part of the company that I can be bothered to care about, the report had this to say:

The June launch of Diablo Immortal™, a deep and authentic Diablo experience designed for the mobile platform, marked the start of a rollout of substantial content across Blizzard’s key franchises. Diablo Immortal received high player ratings on mobile app stores around the world, and reached the top of the game download charts in more than 100 countries and regions following its launch. Over half of the game’s player accounts to date are new to Blizzard. The game ranked in the top-10 grossing games in U.S. app stores for the month of June.

Diablo IV, the next-generation installment in the genre-defining series, is planned for launch on PC and console in 2023. The title will support cross-play and cross-progression across platforms, and is designed to be the foundation for an engaging live service, providing ongoing storytelling and new content for many years to come.

In the Warcraft franchise, Blizzard plans to deliver an unprecedented level of WoW content in the coming months, with Wrath of the Lich King Classic launching on September 26 and World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, the innovative next expansion for the modern game, slated for release later in the year. Blizzard is committed to growing its development resources to meet and exceed its community’s expectations, and at the end of the second quarter significantly bolstered its World of Warcraft team through the acquisition of Boston-based studio Proletariat.

During the second quarter, Blizzard unveiled Warcraft: Arclight Rumble™, an action-packed mobile strategy game that gives both new and existing fans an entirely different way to experience the Warcraft universe. Public testing of the game is underway in select regions.

Overwatch 2 is planned to launch in early access on PC and console on October 4. With a free-to-play live service model designed to provide frequent and substantial seasonal updates, this launch kicks off the next chapter for the acclaimed team-based action game.

Blizzard’s second quarter segment revenue and operating income were lower year-over-year but higher versus the first quarter. World of Warcraft net bookings declined versus a year-ago quarter that included the launch of Burning Crusade™ Classic, offsetting year-over-year growth for Hearthstone® and the contribution from the June launch of Diablo Immortal.

The one other thing that Diablo Immortal did was revive the long sinking Monthly Active Users number, the BS metric that Blizzard pulled out when reporting WoW subscribers became a litany of woe.  But they couldn’t even keep that metric up, and it has been in a steady decline since 2018, as noted over at Massively OP.   But Q2 2022 saw the MAU finally rise to 27 million, up from the 22 million in Q1, the nadir of the MAU reporting.

So Blizz has had some luck with Diablo Immortal, but they really need a strong Q3 with Overwatch 2 and Wrath of the Lich King Classic as well as a big Q4 with the WoW Dragonflight expansion to get back on track.

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