Is the Learning Cliff EVE’s Biggest Problem These Days?

This picture is pretty much a staple of MMORPG lore now.

Learning Curves

Learning Curves

The objective is to show how insanely hard/deep EVE Online is compared to the standard MMORPGs.  There are many things you can do in EVE, many career paths which you can follow, but the game is quite miserly in doling out information about them.  The learning cliff was the biggest obstacle I faced back when I started playing, which was almost 8 years ago at this point.

At EVE Fanfest this year, CCP had a panel on the new player experience (video here) in which they trotted out some depressing figures, represented by this chart (which is discussed in the video at the 16 minute mark for about two and a half minutes).

New Player Trajectory

New Player Trajectory

Basically, of new players who subscribe… which means that they got past the trial account period and actually paid money… half of them leave by the time their first subscription period runs out.  After putting down money, they decide the game isn’t for them and they are gone.

Another large chunk goes on into mission running or mining and never goes any further.  That is certainly where the current new player experience pushes you.  That is the route I took way back when I started playing EVE, two or three new player experiences ago. (The tutorial was a lot less smooth back then.)  It is basically the closest EVE has to a standard MMORPG progression path.

But as with leveling in games like WoW, there is a limit to it.  You end up the master of level 4 missions or you earn and skill yourself up to mining in a Hulk… or I guess a Mackinaw these days… and there isn’t much more to do other than grind rep with specific factions, make ISK, and do the same thing over and over again.  So those people tend to end up leaving as well.

And then there is the small group, described as 5-10% of players who pay/subscribe, who end up beyond missions and mining.  They engage in more of the wide range of activities that make up EVE Online, get involved in PvP, appear on kill mails, and stay with the game for a long time.

Clearly, if you have a game whose revenue benefits most from retaining subscribers for the long term, this chart represents a problem.

CCP’s response in the video is to try to get the new player experience to push people into areas of the game that have high retention rates.  I might ask if people stay longer because they do those things, or do they do those things because they stay longer, but I’ll allow for the moment that CCP has data that drives their assumption.

There is a not insubstantial number of players out there who look at that chart and say, “Well, duh!  Provide a richer (and safer) PvE experience!”  To make money, give people what they want.

That can lead to a more philosophical discussion.  CCP clearly has a goal and a vision for EVE Online.  Does altering that vision, which appeals to a good number of their long term subscribers, to chase another demographic make sense?  That sort of thing has blown up in developer faces in the past with things like the NGE in Star Wars Galaxies or Trammel in Ultima Online.

And that still leaves the biggest group, the 50% of players who just walk away without even getting into missions or mining, a group that I would guess is actually vastly under represented in that chart.

A reader dropped me a note that, among other things, pointed out that the chart above doesn’t address people who download and play the trial, made it through the tutorial, and then never subscribed.  We don’t have any data on that, but I would guess that if you included those people in the chart, people who invested enough time to get through the tutorial, that 50% number would grow substantially.

Now, why they dropped the game is unknown.  There are a few possible reasons, including the incomprehensible UI.  But the same reader also included what he went through with the new player experience:

I started working my way through the industrial tutorials…and about halfway through you need to gather resources from within the system, but it isn’t your own private patch of asteroids.  This is a basic function, and I’m fine with it.  The problem is, while tooling around the system in which the tutorials are offered, I get harrassed and threatened by no less than 3 different players over the course of two hours, stating I need a permit to mine there…threatening to blow me out of space…demanding an insane amount of ISK from someone who’s spent a total of 3 or 4 hours in game…and finally threatening to report me as a bot if I don’t pay up and get out.

A few people got angry at me the other day because I mentioned that a player (actually two) on his first day in the game was out in a fleet with us and tackling hostiles.  I was accused of putting forth an anecdotal fallacy, ignoring the fact that I wasn’t arguing that their experiences were typical for new players in the game, misunderstanding… perhaps deliberately… the difference between capability and opportunity.  That it is possible speaks well for EVE.  That such opportunities can be difficult to find does not.

The quote above is also an anecdote, yet I will guess that the very same people who cried “fallacy” a few days back won’t do so again.  It fits their narrative about bad people in EVE.  And there are certainly bad people in EVE.  I don’t think CCP changing their ad campaign from “Be the Villain” to “Be the Hero/Villain” will alter that. (Nor do I think the “Be the Villain” campaign changed the game in any noticeable way in any case.)  To use the tale above as evidence of widespread bad behavior would be a fallacy.

But I will go back to capability and opportunity.

You can assert that some new players may not have the opportunity to get their legs and discover good aspects of the game before the harsh realities come and find them.  More concerning is that “bad” people, for lack of a better term, have to capability of going after new players while they are still getting their first impression of the game.  When you get a PvP game where the established players start thinking that going after the new players in the starting zone is good sport, and the devs do nothing about it, the writing is on the wall.

So I want to know more about that 50% on the chart above.  Because if new players can’t make it out of the tutorial without facing that sort of thing, if they think the player base sucks before they have had a chance to discover the game, then the writing is on the wall for EVE and all the “HTFU” in the world won’t bring it back.

You can argue about what CCP should do about it.  I am sure suggestions will range from putting the tutorials in their own instanced space… though you still have to enter the real game at some point… to making high sec space PvP free… a complete departure from CCP’s philosophy and something in the NGE range of options.  But if new players are important to the game… and they are… then CCP needs to look at that 50% who just leave and why they go.

42 thoughts on “Is the Learning Cliff EVE’s Biggest Problem These Days?

  1. ultrviolet

    I feel like that new player experience chart could apply to just about every MMORPG ever made.

    I guess I would be in that 50% of new EVE players who left after the tutorial but it wasn’t because of any griefers. I just find the large amounts of down-time a turn-off. I always feel like I’m just staring at the screen waiting for some action I triggered five minutes ago to finish. It doesn’t feel very interactive to me.


  2. theerivs

    I think EVE attracts a certain person, and CCP likes that and won’t change it. I tried the game myself, and just found it…well boring. I’m sure as you gain more it opens the game up more, but why do something that isn’t fun.


  3. Kushana

    I don’t think the learning curse is the biggest problem. That implies that there’s something the newbs want to do that they don’t know exists or don’t know how to do. I think the problem is that there’s things they want to do that they *can’t.*

    1) There’s extremely limited solo play. Missions, mining, trading, very limited PvP. Anything significant needs to be done in groups, and groups of steadily increasing size.
    2) There’s very limited play available in small time chunks. See above, minus the PvP unless you count potentially fruitless hunts for targets.
    3) Your ship and role options are severely limited for months, sometimes years. You slotted a friend into tackling immediately. Fabulous. How long before they can pew-pew in your Apoc NI and Ishtar fleets, which may be what they actually wanted?
    4) You can’t work to make your own environment safer. For all the sandbox talk, CCP has arranged the EVE world to cater almost entirely to those who want to harm others, and not to those who want to make it otherwise. For example, you can shoot your corpmates without getting Concorded. Why is that not a corp option, or the option to instantly eject someone who does, making them available to be Concorded? It’s a sandbox; I should be able to make my own corp rules.


  4. Ardent Defender

    Well written. Agrees on 50+% issue as well, though I don’t exactly see a very good solution that I can think of. Trying to appeal to the new players while potentially alienating part of their core player base potentially without clearly drawing a redline somewhere.


  5. Asmiroth

    Curious as to why EvE has to change and not the actual playerbase. I’ve been out for much too long but is a new player not a boon to a corp? Shouldn’t they actively be trying to retain more players? WoW’s /ginvite spam is one thing but you have to admit, it’s a thousand times more effective than “hiding” the best part of EvE.


  6. tsuhelm

    I am one of those that started the free trial and quit during… More time and a better mood maybe I would have stuck it out! (I can grind LOTRO all day long…given time to do so by wife n kids…lol)
    But maybe part of it’s success is to filter off the other players and therefore create the deeply interested and I must admit interesting from the outside, player base that it has.
    I have enjoyed some of this blogs battle descriptions immensely…even though a lot of sitting around does seem to be required.
    Maybe creating some kind of feedback loop from those that get find other paths un rewarding are then pushed back into the other activities….


  7. Toldain

    @Asmiroth Yes, I think a new player is a boon to a corp, but most people who run corps don’t think so. One big reason for that is that it can be very difficult to tell a legitimate new player from a spy/griefer. People will start new characters just to join some corp, get some privileges and loot the crap out of them, and blow a few people up.

    (Another reason is that lots of people can’t be bothered to teach newbies, they find it irritating. People like Pandemic Legion, one of the premier Alliances in the game. They are kind of similar to an elite raiding guild in other games. The exceptional case is the Goons, who love bringing in new players.)

    To play Eve for any length of time, you have to accept that there are people like that in the game, and decide that succeeding and having fun in spite of them is really rewarding.

    To me, it’s exhilarating.


  8. sleepysam

    Put me in the group that didn’t finish the tutorial. No particular reason, I guess I just didn’t feel like learning a new system, in the end.


  9. reformedgamer

    I think your are mistaken. Be the villain is a self serving slogan, just like kill Jews in nazi germany. It brings certain people under this banner makes people behave a certain way, and makes certain things accepted more shaping the game. (Used this analogy only because of Goonwaffe)

    Eve is a in reality a pve game but they hiding it, they should not. Compare kills tracked on dotlan 88 mln npc kills and only hundred of thousands of pvp kills in 2014.

    I feel sorry for eve. With this “be the scammer, noob killer, lier, filth of the earth ” campaign, they will lose all pve carebears to star citizen.
    Just like ultima online and EQ lost every carebear to wow

    Ps that complexity chart is incorrect. Eve progression model is broken. 10 hour player in catalyst can kill a 500mln ship in highsec? 2 tornados can kill an officer fit 4bln “Nightmare”? It’s awesome for villains sending more carebears to Star citizen.


  10. Alicia Aishai

    I have been playing EVE for a year.

    It may not be easy to understand for Wilhelm Arcturus who belongs to a large Null Sec corp but it’s extremely difficult for new players to find.. anyone to play with! I have seen so many new players joining corps and beg for anyone to group with them. Among the people who go toward solo content in your graph, there is a significant part who would like to play with others but just can’t. Hence they do solo content, get bored and leave. Most last High Sec corps are permanently harassed by WarDecers and that has the virtue to prevent people to even do the solo content!

    Myself, I play solo 99% of the time because there is only a handful of people in the whole game I can trust. Joining any null sec /low sec alliance is very hard and a lot of invites are scams (i.e. people inviting you just to blow you up later). The options of a new player in Eve are very quickly limited and/or hazardous.


  11. Knug

    Eve requires you to team up. The current NPE does not (and honestly cannot) ‘give’ you people to team up with.

    Playing any MMO with other folks increase enjoyment dramatically. Eve is no exception.

    The best way to get over the learning cliff? Find good folks to play with.

    And yes, there are more good folks to learn from than there are bad folks that prey on new players. For any new players (and we get several a month come play with our corp) finding mentors in the game makes all the difference.


  12. Alicia Aishai

    @ Knug
    “The best way to get over the learning cliff? Find good folks to play with.”

    I think the point is that this is not easy at all.
    Good that your corp is trying to help new players. I tried to do that myself when I can. But this is only a lucky few that find people to help them. Most people don’t and leave.


  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ailicia Aishai – Wilhelm Arcturus has only been in a large Null Sec corp for about a third of his career in EVE, which spans about 8 years at this point, so please do not assume you can tell him what he does and does not know.

    I ran missions, did mining and industry, and played the market for several years mostly solo both because of not knowing many people in the game and because I am a quiet person. I do not interject myself into things very easily. Hell, I blog which is a very solo activity relative to forums or Reddit of the like. I ended up in null sec because a friend who is much more gregarious than I got out there and then sponsored me to come along. And even then I was pretty nervous about going. A lot of strangers and what if I screw up and all that. But I got past it.

    Anyway, other than complaining that I don’t know what it is like, I am not sure what your point is. You want to play with others, so are you in favor of what CCP is proposing about find ways to channel players into more diverse activities? Do you want them to expand PvE? Or did you just want to vent in general about the game?

    As for places to go… have you looked up EVE University? They have a channel and everything. Or Brave Newbies? Or Red vs. Blue?

    If you’re saying, “I want something very specific but I cannot find it” I can sympathize I guess. But if you’re trying to tell me that no newbie can find a corp, I have to call bullshit. You’re probably just like I was and too nervous to commit. Throw yourself in there, you might be pleasantly surprised.


  14. Alicia Aishai

    @Wilhelm Arcturus
    I didn’t intend to be disrespectful in anyway :)

    I don’t have a miracle solution to propose, but I was giving you my answer to your question: “Is the Learning Cliff EVE’s Biggest Problem These Days?”
    -> Not the biggest problem. Biggest problem is people who can’t find anyone to play with and leave.
    Source: my observations during the last year belonging to a small corp, travelling around and speaking to people.

    The “Learning Cliff” is the biggest issue for the very early adopter, but it’s mostly in the first 1 – 3 hours of him play. Since you mentioned the chart above refers to people who have already subscribed, my own (humble) experience is that most of those are ok with fact the game is challenging to learn. What mostly puts them off is the inability to find any sort of fun group activity in a reasonable time frame, be restricted to solo content which is a very long grind.

    I guess this is a general problem of game with “forced grouping”. It only works well if it’s easy to find people to group with, and unfortunately EVE is the very much opposite of this because

    “But if you’re trying to tell me that no newbie can find a corp” -> people can find corps. Usually just not right one. I stand on my position that most new players are unable to find a corp what will give them mentorship and/or fun activities. The one who do are in the your 10% last bubble :)


  15. Alicia Aishai

    [unfortunately EVE is the very much opposite of this because] it’s a haven for scammers and griefers :)


  16. draekas

    How different is EVE’s experience with player retention different from other MMOs? Is there any similar data that anyone knows about from say, EQ or WOW?

    This may just be a general trend in all MMOs and not just EVE, unless there is some proof otherwise.

    In WoW for instance, what % new players quit soon after paying for an extra month? What % of players keep playing but generally just do solo stuff, with maybe a few pickup group things now and then vs those who join large social groups?

    From my anecdotal experience in other MMOs, these numbers don’t seem to fall too out of place for any MMO on the market.


  17. Toldain

    Pretty much every MMO I have ever played has had scammers and griefers. EQ had them, people who would train you on purpose, for example, or killsteal that mob you needed for your epic.

    EQ2 had scammers. People would join guilds, get permission to use the guild bank, then clean it out. This happened to us.

    Wow, definitely has griefers and scammers, I haven’t played it enough to pinpoint how they work, though.

    It’s enough for me to think that there is probably no game mechanic that can stop scamming and/or griefing entirely. Which means that a game where beating them is the point is kind of more grounded, for me at least.

    Of course, griefing and scamming 2-hour old newbies is a problem. There’s a newbie channel now, and lots of things that are (e.g., can-flipping) elsewhere in New Eden are forbidden in newbie systems. This is enforced by GM monitors in the newbie channel. This is a positive step, in my opinion.

    It can be hard to find people to play with, since players in Eve are generally hostile and suspicious. However, I strongly recommend you check out Eve Radio – they have an ingame channel and a website. They also sponsor events that anyone can participate in. It’s a great idea. The chat channel can get a bit raw, so consider yourself warned.


  18. Alicia Aishai

    Every MMO has scammers and griefers but some more than others.
    Plus the game itself is favoring it. When you group with random strangers in WoW or Wildstar, they can’t steal your equipment. In EVE they can.


  19. Alicia Aishai

    To be clear I’m not venting or complaining about the game. It is what it is. But generally, it’s hard to deny EVE is generally more hostile to new players than other games. I should try Darkfall to compare :)


  20. Kell

    I don’t play EVE…I’ve tried but it isn’t for me. That said, I do follow it from the outside (it can be fascinating) and I’ve got a long history gaming in general, so I’ll throw in my two cents for no one to care about!

    First, I’ll say that I know the EVE community prides itself on being lean and mean, as it were. That’s admirable, and the universe which they’ve helped to build is fascinating to see. I know it’s a cliche that EVE is hostile to new players, but cliches got to be cliches for a reason. Part of the problem with retaining new players is the incredibly unfriendly attitude they face BEFORE they’ve decided whether or not to commit time, money and effort to the game. If you’re a businessman, and someone is looking at your product in a store and seems unsure if they want to buy it, yelling “HTFU!” isn’t going to encourage them. Independence of spirit is one thing…eating your own young is entirely different.

    A huge problem is how do you correct for the “eating your own young” types without fundamentally changing the character of the game? A brute force approach like instanced tutorials insulates players from the reality, and they’ll get out feeling like they’ve been duped. PvP-free zones cuts against the very grain of EVE, and frankly, I can’t see how it wouldn’t completely screw with the economy. Ignoring the problem means you’re potentially cutting off a lot of new players…the lifeblood of any game.

    Only two potential solutions have occurred to me, though I don’t know how workable they are. Probably they are brilliant…I had them in the shower, after all. Still, I leave it to the EVE players out there to comment.

    The first idea, I think, would be some form of limited immunity for new players. Keep it restrictive in time…roughly the time it would take for a slow player to get through the tutorials. Keep it limited in scope…just a handful of systems in the immediate vicinity of the tutorial. Make it something that can be toggled or lost. Finally, make the immunity (and the reasons for it) very transparent to the new player. This means players can see and hear everything that is going on around them, but they’ll have time to get their legs under them before they are thrown to the wolves. I don’t know how viable it is, or what the potential exploits for it might be. Personally, and looking at it from a purely theoretical perspective, I think it leaves something to be desired because it’s imposed by the devs.

    Alternatively, I think something more player-driven might work. CCP could offer tools and incentives for a sort of “big-brother” plan. I’d envision a match-making service. Experienced players who log in and who desire to do so hit a little toggle that sticks them in a “big-brother” queue. When new players log in, they are given the option of being connected to a “big-brother” who can answer questions, guide them through everything from mechanics to politics to etiquette, and even perhaps run off the griefers who are pestering the new players in the tutorial areas. After the tutorial sections are complete, the newbie is asked if they are “satisfied” with the big brother. If they say yes, perhaps said big brother then receives a small reward (ISK, I’d guess. Money’s always useful, right?) If the newbie goes on to subscribe, perhaps the big brother is also rewarded with some additional subscription time. To me, this seems like the better option, since it would be player driven (though incentivized by CCP), and the passionate player base has always been EVE’s strongest asset.

    Just my thoughts on the matter. Nuke away.


  21. Toldain

    Yeah, I might have had a tone of disapproval. Sorry about that. I realize Eve isn’t for everyone. Nor should it be.

    Interestingly, I think that quality – “Eve isn’t for everyone” – is the secret of their success.

    Eve does terribly at retaining new players in the first hours/days of the game. But it does incredibly well at keeping players playing (and paying them money) over the long run. Once you’ve decided that the game is for you, you hardly ever leave. Or you come back after a break, which most players have done.

    I think the difficulty is the reason for that. It requires a fairly large emotional commitment to make it through the first few months of Eve, and that commitment lasts a long, long time. I’m sure it’s got something to do with cognitive dissonance and random reinforcement.


  22. suzariel

    Of the initial activities you learn in EVE, the only one I found unusually difficult was scanning, but watching a couple of YouTube videos sorted that out. I didn’t realize I was bad at fitting until I started using EVE HQ, but until that point, I just muddled around and got by.

    So, I definitely found the game playable early on, and the learning cliff didn’t seem that heinous to me. That said, I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t fallen in with a group of like-minded individuals almost from day one, I wouldn’t still be playing. I don’t know if I would’ve quit out of boredom with the game itself or irritation with the prevalence of griefer culture, but it would’ve been one of the two.

    Being in a fun group of people kept up my interest level, and my enthusiasm for the game convinced my husband and a good friend of ours to subscribe. They’re still around, 2 1/2 years later.

    One of the reasons the social group I game with works is there are out-of-game consequences for in-game asshattery. Screw someone over in EVE — have social problems with those people and their friends elsewhere.

    If you don’t already know someone who plays EVE, it can be really difficult to connect with people who share your interests and aren’t just ingratiating themselves so they can screw you over.


  23. Whorhay

    I played through an entire 3 month subscription and stopped largely because of griefing. My issue with the griefing isn’t really that it is possible, it is that the developers seem to go out of their way to make griefing more viable. A few Examples below which still stick with me years later:

    Autopilot is nearly worthless, in a game about space travel and ships that can handle FTL they somehow can’t have an autopilot more advanced than a very dull German Shepperd.

    Contract UI’s that don’t make it obvious what is being traded.

    Suicide ganking being commercially viable even for very low values, laughable penalties for suicide ganking.


  24. zaphod6502

    @Alicia Aishai
    ” When you group with random strangers in WoW or Wildstar, they can’t steal your equipment. In EVE they can.”

    I think once you get past this mindset you can appreciate the finer points of EVE. Keep in mind your in-game avatar is an immortal. Yes your ship can get blown up, yes you can be podded, but then you simply “resurrect” in your home station.

    Your spaceship is merely a consumable. Every ship that undocks has the potential of being blown up. This single issue is the biggest paradigm shift new players need to deal with to achieve success in EVE.

    Everything you own can be safely tucked away in a station. If you leave station always expect to lose your ship and adjust its value accordingly.

    Don’t allow yourself to be the target of social engineers and griefers. You can still be a nice person and still join a nice corp and still maintain a healthy air of distrust to not allow yourself to be scammed by the likes of “Erotica1” and his ilk.

    As for your comment of not being able to find decent corps I call hogwash. Put a bit of effort into researching the community and you will literally find hundreds if not thousands of reliable corps.

    You choose how you want to play the game. You choose who you trust. You choose when to lay all your assets on the line. Get away from the standard MMO mindset and embrace the larger meta that is EVE gameplay.


  25. reformedgamer

    Zaphod. There is no need to change mindset. eve should change their mindset. Not the players – eve. And if they (CCP) don’t change only l33t pvpers multiboxers and scammers will be left in game. Leaving eve with no revenue.

    Huge number of players don’t want to be around filthy villains. But eve needs carebears to survive. Check comments on people despise this “be the nazi” advertising.
    And I guarantee you eve will be changing soon. Investor pressure you know ;) .

    Goons are already rebranding into The bastion. I am sure they know something.


  26. Jenks

    The griefing is fine. The pve/pvp is fine. The game isn’t too hard to learn. The fact is that the vast majority of people, even the ones craving an emergent pvp sandbox, don’t want to play a game that looks and feels like you’re job is monitoring a radar.


  27. Stabs

    I’m pretty sure harassing other players in a 1.0 newbie system is actually a bannable offence. I think they’re lax about enforcing it though and I think the reason is that Eve aspires towards “bad” qualities. Scamming, suicide ganking and pvp in general are admired, trading, industry and ratting get mocked. This may make sense for some entities but CCP have to take a higher ground or the number of players leaving the game won’t be replaced by the amount of newbies delighted and encouraged enough by their initial interactions to get hooked.

    There’s also an aspiration gap. Newbies join Eve after reading stories about B-R. Maybe the 2 week trial isn’t enough to disillusion them yet. Then they learn a bit more and realise that for most people there’s no way they will ever be flying titans in big fleet fights. (And that’s how they saw the game marketed).


  28. Pingback: EVE – Learning Curve | MMO Juggler

  29. Alicia Aishai

    @ zaphod6502
    “Yes your ship can get blown up, yes you can be podded, but then you simply “resurrect” in your home station.”
    Most new players are struggling with ISK because they don’t know and/or don’t have the skills to earn it. They usually save for many weeks to afford what you would probably consider being a commodity ship so they are unwilling to risk it.

    “As for your comment of not being able to find decent corps I call hogwash” -> let’s agree to disagree on this one then. And again, this is not a judgment on whether there are decent corps out there or not. This is based on so many players have seen motivated to progress and learn but dropped out because they couldn’t find anyone to play with them.


  30. zaphod6502

    ” This is based on so many players have seen motivated to progress and learn but dropped out because they couldn’t find anyone to play with them.”

    I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of great corps and services in the EVE universe which exist to give new players a boost up. All it requires is a littler bit of research. In many cases these are featured on CCP’s news pages so they aren’t too hard to find.

    Some great examples:
    EVE Uni
    The Angel Project (not so much a corp but a service to help provide new players with material and funding).

    All are designed to help new players with ship replacement programs, training, and free skill books. My own alliance (A Band Apart) is very accepting of new players and we also provide a lot of career paths whether your interest lies with highsec, PvP, or even wormholes.

    Finding a good corp is no different to finding a good guild in WoW or any other online game. But with some of the above options it is relatively easy.


  31. Ranamar

    I *found* a nice corp (twice, even…) without knowing people. In both cases, however, it was a bumpy ride, and I went through a lot of stupidity and dumb luck of opportunities falling into my lap to get from “looking for a good corp” to “in a corp that doesn’t actually do what I want” to, finally, “in a corp that does what I want.” … and then, the second time, I quit when I tired of typical nullbloc culture. (Fortunately, that time, once again I found a good corp, again unexpectedly, but, this time, because RL friends tracked me down.) Despite having had it happen to me, I have difficulty believing it’s easy to find a good corp. Most of the reason I don’t believe it is that I ended up in both of the corps where I enjoyed myself when the corp I had been in before disbanded and was absorbed by a better-managed organization. That takes a certain amount of determination, faith, or lack of knowing you could have it better to get through.

    From what little I remember of my misty days as an actual new player… and some frustration from much later, I’d say the two problems they’re facing when it comes to retention is (1) providing players to find people they want to fly with that they aren’t afraid is rife with people who just want to exploit them, and (2) helping people explore ways to make money in a way that’s acceptable to them. I’m not sure how much of (1) is real and how much is imagined, but, for these purposes, imagination is as bad as reality. For (2), I had a “why haven’t I been doing this all along?” moment at a point when my main had 50M SP and I started a manufacturing alt. It was dumb luck that I finally discovered something where I actually felt like I was getting ahead.


  32. Kethry Avenger

    I think that both your last article’s anecdote and this article’s anecdote are true.

    I think for anyone of the random people who decide to play eve it is probably much more likely they will end up in the group not playing in goonswarm. Also if everyone was in goonswarm who would you shoot?

    But to the main points. I think CCP needs to keep making the game more accessible without eliminating the interactive complexity between players and groups.

    I truly believe that there is in fact to much preying happening to the new random solo player or new corp of a small group of friends who enter the game. I don’t think they should be instanced off into complete obscurity but the devs and gms might have to take a more active hand in protecting the new bro. Maybe sting operations. GM’s acting like new player accounts randomly seeing if there is “harrasment” in starter systems.

    I think the new corp problem is mostly an issue with the wardec system. I think wardec’s should be mostly limited to legal access to remove in space anchorable assets. I put up a starter idea here.

    I don’t think EVE should change what it is to accommodate new types of players but it might need to have a better way to give most new players a chance as they start.


  33. Dr Bob Madeveda

    I’ve been playing on and off for a year now, and love my solo PvP. I’m in a corp, of solo PvPers, more for the forum and chat than any fleet. I love all parts of PvP, the fit , the hunt, the fight. But I only really understood about a ship as a thing to lose after 1 month in RvB. This was after 6 months in FW. Perhaps the tutorials could include duels between new players in cheap T1 fit frigs. About 20 odd consecutive fights. Give them a chat window to discuss the fight, then throw them out again! And again…and again…

    PvP is not really in the tutorials, but a major part of the game.


  34. mbp

    I am not sure that EVE can achieve new growth by making the game more PVE friendly. The market for PVE games is clearly in decline and there is a lot of very high quality competition out there (WOW, SWOTOR, TESO, WILDSTAR etc.) and most of these are struggling to hold onto players. In fact the main growth in online gaming in recent years has been PVP games such as LoL and World of Tanks.

    Perhaps a more realistic growth path would be to put more no-consequence pvp in the game. I think the popularity of Red Versus Blue has shown the demand for this but the chance of a new player finding out about RvB is small. Even the loss of a frigate might seem intimidating to a new player and I think we can all remember the shock of losing your pod for the first time.

    I haven’t really worked out how to implement this without upsetting the current game and economy or opening new avenues for griefers to abuse new players. Here are a few options:

    Option 1. Ships/modules/pods up to a certain value are completely reimbursed everywhere. I don’t think this would work well and it would probably lead to some form of abuse. It also doesn’t solve the problem that the security system and its complicated rules are some of the biggest hurdles for new players to overcome.

    Option 2. A new class of system where security is non existent but all losses (ships modules and pods) are immediately replaced back at a home base. You would probably need to ban any mining or production in these systems or perhaps not allow stuff produced there to be brought outside. This might work. I especially like the notion that players could feel free to shoot at anything any time without fear of devastating consequences.

    Option 3. Actually building on option 2 just get rid of Concord entirely and make every region free for all combat but vary the reimbursement level depending on the system level. In 1.0 systems you get 100% like for like replacement scaling down to no reimbursement in 0.0. Get rid of the silly insurance system. In order to keep the economy balanced you would need to scale drops in inverse proportion – nothing drops in 1.0 but you get a higher chance of drops as you lower the security. Think this might work?


  35. Isey

    I have done the trial several times. I love the look of EVE. I love spaceships. I also love PVP. The first couple of times I did feel a bit overwhelmed (even as an MMO vet) and one time I actually went into a starter, mining Corp assuming it would help ease me in. It did a bit.

    What did it off for me (and this was a long time ago) was I followed a “how to start in Eve” guide that was recommended and I was told (at the time) to download an app so I could skillup without logging in in game. Because it takes time to level, you need to be on top of that and needed to be on top of that….

    I’m sure they streamlined it since then or it has changed drastically but that was the turn off that I had to manage leveling on and in real time.


  36. wokyr

    I myself got had on my tutorial, years ago. Was pretty scared for a while, as I didn’t knew what I did wrong to allow someone to kill me.
    Today this can’t happen as the UI give way more information, and harassing in noobs system is forbidden.

    But what may be a pretty big issue is noob corps and wardecs.
    Sure there’s the big ones like Eve Uni or others, that can help you a lot, but the smalls ones are often harassed by players wanting a nice KB for their new PvP corp (I talk from recent experience)…. and you can’t do much most of the time.

    What could be an idea would be some form of corp between the NPCs ones and player ones ; NPCs corp can’t be wardecced, but there’s nothing social on them, and that’s a big issue. Sure you can join a special chat, but it’s not the same.
    So something interesting would be a system allowing a corp to have wardec impunity, but without industries advantages or a real corp ; you have to pay the 10% npc tax, you can’t anchor POS or others corp structures, you can’t have a corp tax or maybe a very small one, you can only have 1 corp hangar… things like that to avoid exploiting the hole.


  37. sid67

    I’m in the 50 percent and I left for reasons that had nothing to do with heroes or villains. No, I quit for a much more mundane reason: the core combat mechanics are boring and even the visuals (for combat) are boring.

    I doubt I’m alone in that opinion. Oh sure, there is an adrenaline rush when you are risking a ship but the “how” of it is all terribly bland.

    I like the villians, I like the empires, I like the risk, I like the depth of the economy. But the actual “game” part of Eve is about as exciting as a turn based pen & paper game.

    IMO, it’s a smarter move for CCP to focus on converting the 40 percent who solo into the 10 percent who group.


  38. spinks

    I’d be in the 50% who left after the first paid month. The group of people I was going to join with a corps decided they’d rather do wormhole stuff and I wasn’t able to join them, didn’t see any obv way to find another corps and the EVE chat interface was so spammy it didn’t look like a useful way to look.

    So I flew around for a bit, did some missions and trading, and called it a day. No bad feeling, just not able to find a guild that fitted within the time.


  39. John

    I played for a few years. I think my main has a bit over 70M points, so I’m not entirely a noob. I’ve scaled the learning cliff.

    The issue I have is that I can’t play the game the way I wanted to play it. I had hopes of being a high-sec industrialist. I actually enjoy mining. I find it relaxing. For manufacturing, I can certainly run a spreadsheet and figure out how many of what I should make, and which ingredients I should buy and which I should mine or make myself.

    Unfortunately, CCP really (REALLY) wants me to participate in PVP. All of the high-end minerals can only be mined in null sec. All of the good moon goo also comes from there.

    You aren’t safe in high sec. You can get ganked. Cheating, scamming, and suicide bombing are actively encouraged. There is no such thing as a safe corporation – look at the stuff that’s made the news over the years. At this point I basically trust nobody that I don’t know in meatspace. CCP encourages and advertises all manner of sleazy behavior, including but not limited to stealing and outright betrayal.

    If I could mine on my three accounts and manufacture T2 items and spacecraft, and run the occasional level 4 mission, without fear of griefing and with some little bit of profit, I’d gladly pay and play. Not only can I not do that, but every time I get close to accepting a not-too-irritating setup, they nerf something further to try and force me to move to low- or null-sec.

    I’m not going. If they don’t want to let me play the carebear parts of their game and still have fun, they don’t get my money.

    I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way.


  40. zaphod6502

    You should definitely check out Star Citizen based on what you have stated. It may offer a more “user friendly” experience than EVE for those that wish to dabble in the manufacturing side of space games.


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