CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.
–CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes, Economy Discussion
I ebb and flow in my interest in the CSM, which in its way reflects CCP’s own wavering commitment to the institution over the years. And, of course, the topics being discussed and how much information we get affects my interest as well. Some of the summit minutes have so much redacted that what is left just isn’t worth getting worked up about.
This time around there were actually a few interesting topics. The key one for me was war declarations, or war decs. These have been complained about since I started playing EVE Online back in 2006.
There is a whole section devoted to war decs in the minutes, reflective of there being a dedicated session on the topic. The minutes from that are somewhat interesting. That section of the minutes opens with a pretty ominous note:
In the EVE Leadership meeting the CSM was presented with numbers resulting from research
into the state of war declarations in EVE and those numbers quite starkly showed how
asymmetric the situation is, and how war declarations allow a small number of players to
negatively affect a huge number of people, with low risk.
After that, however, the discussion in the minutes goes the way it has always gone. Everybody knows war decs are a problem but there are always reasons why CCP won’t get rid of them completely. Along with the all-time greatest hit, “we don’t want high sec space to be completely safe,” there is now the problem of Upwell structures which litter New Eden. Without high sec war decs you can’t blow those up.
So the discussion flowed through a set of ideas guided by that, with talk of costs and victory conditions and the like. The session notes end with a mention of how war decs favor the aggressor, how corporations who get war dec’d tend to just stop playing when there is a war going on, and how some organizations like Red Frog avoid the whole thing.
There was no real indication about a future plan for war decs or whether or not CCP would do anything about them in the foreseeable future. While disappointing, that was hardly unexpected. CCP hasn’t like the war dec situation forever so far as I can tell but hasn’t done much save tinker with it over the years.
The minutes then move on to the session on the economy where starts off CCP Larrikin by confirming that the current level of NPC bounty payouts is not sustainable and that most of it comes from carrier and super carrier ratting. No surprise there.
It isn’t until the second page of the economy section, a point by which I am sure some people have already uttered, “yadda yadda yadda” and moved on to the next section, that we come to the paragraph with which I chose to open this post.
I chose that quote for a reason. It takes away a lot of the ambiguity about war decs.
If you’re paying attention, you will hear people complain about war decs. It tends to be anecdotal information. Somebody got war dec’d and it sucked. But somebody always has a story about how something in the game sucked, so how do you assign a priority to it?
Well, the CSM saw the data, and maybe CCP will share it with the rest of us at some future date, but the reaction seems to be enough. War decs kill corps and CCP knows it, and likely has known it for some time. Furthermore it is bad enough that CCP put the following line in the meeting minutes that they themselves edited:
…it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.
CCP endorsed that statement by putting it in the minutes. Remember that.
What is the all time, long term problem for EVE Online? If you said, “player recruitment and retention” you get a prize.
Which brings me back to the section of the minutes that was specifically about war decs and the decided lack of urgency that comes through on the whole topic. The discussion reads to me like it is a topic that needs to be fixed eventually, but which they can get to in the fullness of time when they have the ideal solution. That quote from the economy section makes this seem like much more of a “hair on fire, do something now!” situation. If it is really that bad, I’m with Brisc; turn the feature off. We can live without war decs for six months or a year if it stops driving players away.
There are other parts of the minutes worth looking through. The economy section, as noted, is worth a read. There was also a whole session about the new player experience that explains, in part, why CCP ditched the epic NPE experience for the current version based in The Agency, something I wrote about last month.
And there was a discussion of the updated customer support policies, marketing and recruiting and community outreach which are likely worth a read.
But for me the primary take away from the 53 pages of minutes is that high sec war decs are bad for the game, CCP knows this (and has likely known this for a long time), and yet they are still dithering about a solution. I’d be hard pressed to come up with something more important for them to look into given the statement in the minutes.
Addendum: Others covering the minutes