Kronos – The Last Big EVE Online Expansion

In addition to WildStar’s official launch, today CCP is deploying the Kronos expansion for EVE Online.

EVE Online - Kronos

EVE Online – Kronos

This might be the final big, bi-annual expansion for EVE.  The game has a long standing tradition of putting out two free expansions every year… or so.  There is a long line of splash screens that document the march from 2003 forward. (Though changes to the launcher have made those splash screens a thing of the past, which is sort of a shame.)

As with such expansions, there is a laundry list of changes and updates with Kronos. (Plus some music!  I like it!)  EVE Online expansions can challenge your expectations as to what an MMO expansion can and should be.  If you mention an expansion in the context of EverQuest or World of Warcraft, you can probably take a stab at the content sight unseen and be pretty much on the mark in general.  More zones, more levels, another race or class, more raids, more dungeons, maybe some new trade skill or something like housing or such.  There is a pretty standard format to build from.

EVE Online expansions though can range far and wide.  Sure, more often than not “new ships” will be on the list along with some sort of rebalance.  But sometimes the big feature is just making old features work better.  I think Crucible was one of the more popular expansions just because it focused on a lot of nuts and bolts issues that made the game better over all.

So “fixing stuff” can be an expansion in New Eden.

You’d probably be pissed if you spent $40 on a “fixing stuff” expansion for EQ or WoW, but since EVE expansions are free, that can actually be a big deal.  Sometimes the small things are the best things.

So, on the big laundry list of features for Kronos, I am probably most interested in the changes to blockade runners and deep space transports.  Moving things around in EVE is always serious business.  And then some of the superficial things interest me.  The ongoing “death to asymmetry” campaign for Caldari ships continues as the Crow and the much maligned Moa hulls get sleek new models with Kronos.  The Moa especially has long been a sore spot for some, so it is nice to see it go from ugly duckling to Firefly-esque beauty.

And that is the joy of the big expansions.  It is like Christmas and there is something under the tree for everyone, even a goof like me who is more interested in pretty ships than freighter changes or drone rebalances or pirate faction ship updates and changes.

But going forward, the twice yearly package is going to be changed to more content drops spaced out more evenly over the course of the year.  CCP has a rationale written out for why they are making this change and how they expect it to work out, going from two expansions to ten every year.  And they have a graphic for the idea.

EVE Online Forever

EVE Online Forever

But I have to wonder how it will work out.  Those who follow the demographics of the game have pointed out that expansions tend to also be peaks in subscriptions as older players come back to see what is new.  Big expansions make for big events… even if they are not always what CCP expected. (Roll stock footage of shooting the monument after Incarna.)

Yet, big events also make for big expectations as well.  As Neville Smit points out, there is often some let-down… or a lot of let-down… after an expansion.  As at Christmas, new toys and don’t necessarily change the reality of your situation.  More releases with less content will mean that there will be both less to see and less to be disappointed by I suppose.  We will have to see how that balances out as we move forward into this new plan.

The CCP Train Schedule

The CCP Content Train Schedule

First up is Cruis, which is supposed to include the industry re-vamp that was originally slated for Kronos, but which turned out to be too controversial initially so ended up getting pulled out for a re-think.  That change, no matter how it ends up, will be a big deal for a lot of players.

But will it make as big a splash?  I’ve written about content pacing before.  I am going to bet there are a bunch of WoW players out there who, facing a long summer before Warlords of Draenor can be expected, might like smaller but more frequent releases.  But for all the faults of Blizzard’s long (for the industry) expansion cycle, it does make every expansion a big deal.

Is it better to hit (or fail to hit) a grand slam every couple years, or to get to just get on base more often?  You’ll say “get on base,” but nobody writes headlines about that.  We shall see.

But I still miss the splash screen for each new expansion.

8 thoughts on “Kronos – The Last Big EVE Online Expansion

  1. Sugar Kyle

    With nothing to back up my opinion I wonder if Eve’s spontanious events and fights bring in more people than the expansion announcements do?

    Also, the regular cycle is a good way of saying were alive and kicking after a decade.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Sugar Kyle – I have no doubt that events and fights bring more *new* people to the game. Remember how there was TiDi in the new player zone after B-R?

    But for getting former players back, or at least getting players to log on… which creates the potential for content… expansions represented peaks on the concurrent user graph.

    Somebody once did I nice post showing the spike (or lack of spike in a few cases) in players after each expansion, but I cannot find it, so I am going to link to this post over at The Nosy Gamer because it has a nice chart that shows a bit of what I mean.

    Anyway, this is yet another post to mark a point in time so I can come back and revisit what happened next year.


  3. bhagpuss

    Rising two years into GW2 with bimonthly “content drops” and no expansion I can categorically say that expansions are better. I also believe that MMO companies have cleverly repurposed and repositioned what we used to call “patches” and resold them to us (literally in some cases) as “Expansions” or “Content Drops”.

    Back in the day when Everquest was pumping out two boxed expansions a year SOE also managed to come up with a non-stop rain of free content at the same time. Remember the Bertoxxulous Plague? The Invasion of Firiona Vie? The Darkening of Lesser Faydwer? Bloody Kithicor? The Warrens? New Splitpaw? New New Splitpaw?

    I could go on at considerable length. I still use those times as a yardstick and pretty much every MMO for the last ten years comes up short on that measure. Very short indeed in most cases.


  4. Stabs

    I’ve had a very enjoyable day playing with the new content. We went down to low sec, spotted and chased a couple of Garmurs, then found a Barghest bpc which we sold for 1.5 billion. Gevlon Goblin is moving in not too far from us and DBRB led a roam to the HERO heartlands in a Garmur.

    The game played very smooth technically and the new stuff is lots of fun. There’s content I haven’t had a chance to look at yet like the Prospect (I’m a sometimes gas farmer) and the sound customisation.

    I really do think it may be a patch that solidly improves Eve, particularly lowsec. The belts are very busy. If it turns out that the game becomes a bit flooded with Mordus ships as a result then people will use them as doctrines (they’re very good and fun to fly). There’s a lot of pvp in the low sec asteroid belts and of course you can hunt the FW plexes while you check the belts.


  5. Chanina

    I’m playing eve for almost 7 years now so my knowledge about how a new player will be attracted to the game is very limited. But for the overall health of Eve I think the 6 weeks release cycle is a good choice. The company has grown and there are multiple teams working on small and big stuff. I would assume that we will see “big releases” and small ones depending on the features that get ready. Like Cruis will be a big one for industry players but for a non industrial it will be relative small.

    CCPs developer staff is most likely not as big as the one for Blizzards WoW but the latter want to SELL the expansion for a decent price while CCP doesn’t charge extra for the update. If I had to pay for expansions in Eve I might leave the game. That’s one of the reasons I stopped WoW at the first Expansion. I am already paying for the game.

    The Marketing department from CCP will have some challenges without that expansion hype but on the other hand they can market Eve with what it already has. Lowering disappointment for the failed hype and promoting stuff that already exists.

    “You’ll say “get on base,” but nobody writes headlines about that. We shall see.” Indeed we shall. But how many headlines of Eve where made from expansions and how many where triggered by (player) Events or its long lifespan? If I where at eve marketing I would take a good look at what the other MMOs do and when they do updates. While the player base of these other games are waiting for the “next big happening” push the advertisement button. Role out good trailers and hook up those who are bored by there current game. Don’t just hum along with small advertisements, make them big and short. And independent form releases, the customer doesn’t pay for them extra.

    To keep players (whether new or old doesn’t matter) engaged in the game, it has to be healthy and enjoyable. I think that will be best reached with the 6 week release cycle.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    And now, in the cold light of day, we’re seeing a “morning after” problem I didn’t even bring up: Patches. Kronos has some problems, making it like every other EVE expansion ever. Not boot.ini level problems, but problems. There will be patches. History shows that post-expansion patches can go on for weeks before things settle down.

    With the new plan, I hope the person who needs to do the patches for one release isn’t important to a feature that is supposed to drop six weeks down the road in another release.


  7. Matt

    WoW doesn’t do expansions often, but its patches are usually only about 5% dedicated to patching anything, with the rest being a mini-expansion in all but name. It’s not a bad balance between stability and novelty.


  8. Dersen Lowery

    Well, if a bug is patched late enough that it knocks a feature back one release, that penalty is only a few weeks now.

    What this is, honestly, is crisis mode. They’re set up to deliver features more or less as soon as they’re done, however long that takes. Mynnna has pointed out, in his blog, that Seagull’s vision is basically “we’re rewriting the whole game, and then stargates.” Marketing is a secondary concern. With a brace of new sci-fi multiplayer games on the horizon, and with its own substantial ambitions tabled for so many years by bad code (and bad management…), CCP has to retire its substantial technical debt as quickly as possible.

    This is not doom and gloom. EVE is not dying. It is, however, hitting the gym for a few years of badly needed high intensity interval training. That’s good news. CCP may go back to expansions after their code base is back in shape, or they might not if the rapid-release schedule works well enough for them.


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