VR Development Dead and Layoffs at CCP

One of those “note the time and date” posts, Massively OP reported earlier today that CCP was backing away from development of Virtual Reality games, closing their Atlanta office and selling off the studio in Newcastle responsible for now VR-optional Oculus Rift launch title EVE: Valkyrie.  This will mean a job loss for as many as 100 CCP employees world wide, including 30 in Iceland.

EVE: Valkyrie in stasis

CCP says that they will continue to support their VR products but will no longer be investing time into new development for EVE: Valkyrie, EVE Gunjack, or the recently launched Sparc.  That sounds nice, but once you cut the development team restarting on a VR project won’t be easy.

Hello VR captain’s quarters?

In addition to a renewed focus on EVE Online… because what else is making them any money… CCP will continue with development of the shooter known as Project Nova as well as the EVE Universe themed mobile game Project Aurora, which was demoed at EVE Vegas earlier this month.

CCP Falcon had the following to say on Reddit:

With regards to EVE, it’s kind of bittersweet that this puts us in a more solid position going forward, as a lot more focus is back on EVE Online, its services and all the technology and support around it.

The EVE Online development team was not impacted at all by these changes, and remains the same size, working toward the same goals and features that have already been announced.

While that may be so, one of the losses with the Atlanta office is CCP Manifest who was the PR and social media lead who paid a lot of attention to the EVE Online community.  Likewise CCP Logibro who minded the fansites and worked with the CSM appears to be on the list.   They will be missed.

We shall see what this means in the longer term.  EVE Online remains the only money making video game for the company.

Other coverage:

16 thoughts on “VR Development Dead and Layoffs at CCP

  1. Freelancer117

    I for one am going to boycot “project” aurora, and any ccp mobile game they think up.
    Because as a customer I am interested in Eve online, not your flimsical wimps Hilmar.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Freelancer117 – Having seen the Project Aurora presentation at EVE Vegas, it seemed like CCP, in teaming up with another company, was mainly lending their brand recognition to the whole thing rather than much in the way of development resources, akin to Nintendo/GameFreak working with Niantic with Pokemon Go. If that gets CCP some more revenue, EVE Online is probably better off.

    The same goes for Project Nova. While it sounded like CCP was more involved, they are still partnered with another company who is doing a lot of the heavy lifting while CCP is bringing the EVE Online universe to the table as its big assets.

    @anypo8 – Yeah, I spoke to Logibro at EVE Vegas a couple of times and more than a few times through email. He was always open and receptive and fun to chat with.

    @Corelin – EVE’s success is a tenuous thing. How long does an MMO like EVE Online remain a viable concern? Theoretically it could last forever I suppose, but the reality is probably a lot shorter. Do you let the company ride out its days on one bet, no matter how successful, or do you invest in something else to keep you going when EVE does fade?

    It is a very common Silicon Valley situation, a company that has one success and then never gets another that is anything close. One product companies that live and die on their one big thing are the norm. Even Google makes most of their money through search and ad revenue. But that is not how you survive in the long term.

    So I am torn on what CCP ought to be doing. I don’t want them to neglect EVE, but I also know another success would brighten the long term prospects for New Eden.

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  3. Dinsdale Pirannha

    Love this.

    My last subscription for Eve ran out a few days ago. Up until then, Dinsdale had been subbed for 9 years. At this point, I am hoping for CCP to recognize that getting into bed with the RMT cartels was a bad bad idea. Eve may be their only money maker, but the fact is that subs are declining, and CCP is simply exploring more ways to squeeze more blood from a shrinking group of stones. More micro-transactions, and more pay-to-win gambits will be introduced soon.

    But eventually, I am truly hoping, new management takes over, and reverses the path CCP has taken for the last 5 years or so. At that point, I will look at re-subbing.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Dins – I somehow doubt there is anything that CCP could realistically do under any management that would disabuse you of your delusions. But maybe now that you’re out you’ll find a way to let go and move on with your life.

    Like

  5. Freelancer117

    Most mobile games are either tied behind a pay wall to advance futher or are flat out pay 2 win.
    If ccp games under the current management learns how to integrate that in eve online.. wait omega

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  6. bhagpuss

    EVE is very much like EverQuest. They are both established I.P.s with a long track record and very high brand recognition…all in a very specific, almost hermetically sealed micro-market. These aren’t I.P.s on the level of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. They aren’t even I.P.s on the level of World of Warcraft.

    EVE and EQ aren’t even that well-known within their own imagined local sphere of influence. You can easily test that in a current MMO by trying to stary a conversation about either of them in open chat channels – there will be plenty of responses from people currently playing an MMO who don’t even recognize the names.

    Move outside MMOs to the wider gaming audience and recognition will fall off a cliff. Move out of gaming to a global entertainment audience and you’ll struggle to find recognition of the genre itself, let alone a specific I.P. that only exists meaningfully within it.

    It is possible to farm a niche product like that indefinitely provided the goal is nothing more ambitious than stasis. It becomes increasingly difficult as the product ages and so does the existing audience but you can milk it for a good, long time. It’s a precarious existence, though. It’s very easy to see why CCP wanted to branch out into other I.P.s and other platforms to spread the risk and open new opportunities.

    The problem for CCP with retrenching into the core is that issue of name recognition. Everyone reading this knows what EVE means but fronting a new product with “part of the EVE universe” speaks to those people and no-one else. Without a breakout hit that spreads the understanding of what EVE is beyond the pre-existing audience, CCP risks painting itself into a corner, which is what they’ve been trying to avoid. Self-evidently, they wouldn’t be withdrawing from any of these projects if they’d worked.

    This is why I was more relieved than upset to see EQNext cancelled. Like CCP’s punt on VR, it was a project reliant on technology and/or expertise that either didn’t yest exist or couldn’t be made to work well enough fast enough. Cancelling Next was a smart move for DBG. Whether dropping out of the VR race will revitalize CCP in the same way remains to be seen.

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  7. Athie

    To me, this is fascinating regarding VR. CCP was evidently one of the relatively successful studios in that space, and were also self-evidently hungry to diversify. Yet even so the VR niche proved unsustainable.

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  8. Gevlon

    Oh damn. Falcon survived another layoff. I don’t see how can the CCP execs not see that he (and the likes of him) are the reason EVE is shrinking. I only partially agree with Dinsdale. “CCP” didn’t get into bed with RMT cartels, as “CCP” has no need for them. As gods in their own game, they can do anything the RMT-ers do and more, they have absolutely no reason to share a single dime with The Mittani, or Grath or IWI or whoever is making good money on EVE right now.

    It’s Falcon and a few other devs and GMs who made the deal to rip off both CCP and the players in order to make them rich. I’m sure that simply firing Falcon and hiring any random dude with some community management experience would increase EVE playerbase by 10-20%.

    The problem – at least in the short term – isn’t that Falcon is in bed with the RMT cartels. It’s that Falcon LOOKS like someone in bed with RMT cartels. Let’s face it: the average player would not conquer the stars in an imaginary totally fair EVE. There are only Dunbar number of people who can be relevant in EVE. So being commanded and blown up is the reality of EVE life for the 99% even in the ideal situation. The ganked miner has little reason to care if the killer was a “for fun” Minerbumper or a Goon working on some nefarious plan to make real money for The Mittani. Ergo, if he is fine with being blown up (if not, he doesn’t belong to EVE anyway), he has little reason to care if the game is rigged or not. However when rigging is obvious, when his killer boasts about his dev-fueled invincibility, he gets rightfully upset and quits. It’s like in PUBG where hacking was probably always there the community is getting mad now when hackers have the boldness to name their characters WG-QUN-123456, advertising the hack program.

    Bizarrely, if we’d replace Falcon with someone like Hillary Clinton or John McCain, who at least know the importance of appearances while being much-much more evil than Falcon could ever be, the game would probably also gain players or at least stop losing them.

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Freelancer117 – Omegas? Subscriptions are now pay to win? I mean, I guess, in some literal sense, paying to play enables winning, but still….

    @Bhagpuss – EQ and EVE are of a kind in name recognition and even in peak subscriber base. Both have enough clout with their brand that they can get even mainstream gaming site editors to run a story if they launch something new under that brand. The trick is launching something new that will seem worthwhile outside of the niche. That does seem unlikely, but at least they are getting somebody else to do the dev work this time.

    @Athie – As I mentioned in a previous post, when the industry is bragging about 100 million VR headsets being shipped last year and it turns out that 96% of them were Google Cardboard, it sure seems like they’re trying to paper over a big hole in their plan. But we had an Oculus Rift price cut recently. We’ll see if that makes for a change.

    @Gevlon – I’m pretty sure 90% of the EVE Online player base doesn’t know who Falcon is. People who actually get involved enough to be part of the “community” tend to be outliers, not the norm. We’re the oddballs. Which is why any company should be careful about listening to said “community.”

    That said, I’ll at least agree that Falcon plays his “tough guy” act too often. Then again, I’ve been to Reddit and the forums, it might just be what happens to community people after a while. I would be interested to know why Manifest and Logibro got the axe while he stayed.

    Meanwhile, don’t align yourself too closely with Dins. He wrote his world view down at one point, and it turns out he believes The Mittani controls CCP through a bizarre blackmail scheme. It is really quite intricate. I’ll have to find that link again.

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  10. Krumm

    With regard to CCP only having EVE Online…its a mixed bag. On one hand I like that there focus is mostly on Eve Online. On the other a business must have profitable developments to keep solvent. We want them to make money and at the same time keep their focus on EVE…its a balancing act we want.

    The worse thing that ever happened to Ultima Online was the EA acquisition of it…by a Parent company we all know is truly evil. We do not want something similar to happen to EVE.

    Perhaps what they need to do is the opposite that Blizzard did with WOW. WOW built upon a lot from Warcraft III …which was a RTS with RP Elements. What CCP needs to do is develop some EVE ‘Universe” Games that are not so much about cutting edge technology but about content. Say a 4x around the four empires or something similar to StarCraft. The Steam catalog is chuck full of sci-fi concept to which they could develop ideas for small games. Didn’t a company get rich on a farm game? My Son plays some sort of Star Wars Empires at War game that would be easy to adapt to the universe of eve.

    The scary thing is the upcoming changes to alphas. I know CCP is trying to balance alpha with bringing people in and balancing income costs. Myself I refer free with paid unlocks on the features and so forth that I use. If I could pay to unlock individual skills I would do so because I am more of a casual player. its not about cost of a subscription but rather of the casual nature I would prefer.

    I Hope that is the direction they are looking to go because if they bring in the ability to pay to unlock skills that would bring in money but as is all things eve …what are the impacts of such a change?

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  11. Gevlon

    @Wilhelm: they don’t have to know who “Falcon” is. They only have to see his work. I can’t be sure that it was Falcon who overruled team security and unban IWI. No one can. But everyone saw that an obvious an already caught RMTer have open support. Even Nosy got mad at “CCP” then, despite the act was against the interest of “CCP”. It was done by someone who was on the take, and sure as hell it wasn’t some junior GM.

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  12. Gevlon

    @Wilhelm: similarly, until Sion bragged about it, we couldn’t know that it was Falcon who covered up the monument vandalism, nor that they were Goons. But everyone saw the coverup and was rightfully upset that literal criminals got help from “CCP”.

    Like

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