Yes, this was news on Tuesday, but I had other posts in the can already and the actual event doesn’t start for a week, so it didn’t feel like something about which I had to get a hot take out right away. There were plenty of those out there already.
Besides which, I wasn’t really sure how the whole thing made me feel.
But let’s back up, because history shows that somebody will be reading about all of this for the first time here.
On Tuesday CCP did a mass mailing along with a news post to announce that EVE Online was doing a cross promotion with the BBC’s long running Doctor Who series. Dubbed the “Interstellar Convergence,” (not to be confused with the “Winter Convergence“), reactions to the whole thing were… mixed.
I mean, my daughter thought it sounded great, but she doesn’t play EVE Online and thinks the presence of The Doctor improves every social situation, so there is that. Others were less enthusiastic.
The event, which is set 400 years before The Last Great Time War in the Whovian timeline, brings Doctor Who to New Eden, promising to be “…unlike any other EVE event before it.”
I think it gets there by just bringing another, more popular IP into the game lore. I’m not sure we’ve
jumped that shark crossed that bridge before.
Unearth Doctor Who-related artifacts and use them to track down the Dalek menace. Face off against the infamous evildoers in an interstellar battle of the ages and claim Doctor Who-inspired rewards to take back to New Eden.
After the announcement the reactions and hot takes were rife… so op success if one believes there is no bad publicity. It got a bunch of people reacting to the news. The question is whether or not the right people were reacting in the right way I suppose.
There is even a video, the comments on which are all you might expect. It was nice of YouTube to turn off the down vote counter recently.
Where to begin?
This event is, without a doubt, an attempt to promote the game. Though the BBC has shown it loves EVE Online in the past, with its news division covering New Eden events that most mainstream news wouldn’t touch, the popularity coefficient between the game and the series is decidedly tilted in favor of The Doctor. I doubt anybody is expecting that Doctor Who will get any more viewers out of this promotion, so the hope has to be to bring attention, and new players, to EVE Online.
In my bag of emotions there is some positive hope that maybe this will end up helping the game by feeding more people into the new player experience and the almost immediate disappointment that playing EVE Online brings to 95% of the people who start it. If more people get fed the machine, more players will end up sticking with the game. It’s just math.
But then there is the game lore. CCP has its own dedicated faction of lore hounds who track, dissect, and occasionally add to the foundational tale of the game. After 18 years of nailing down what it means to be in New Eden, suddenly having a Dalek invasion was no doubt a bit of a shock.
I won’t declare that CCP is breaking the lore, but they are certainly bending it in strange and new ways. Objections to the impact this will have on the lore are being met with what is now the standard CCP approach to everything, denial.
CCP has taken the position that this event isn’t at all lore breaking because they dictate what the lore of the game is and if they simply say that this is not canon, then we are obliged to treat it as such. If the event wraps up and you have a sonic screwdriver, a Tom Baker scarf on your avatar, or some other bit of ephemera hanging about, what’s the harm?
My reaction to that is simply to ask if they have ever met the lore focused fan base. Because I am willing to bet that to them bit of boilerplate won’t wash. EVE Online isn’t WoW. It isn’t already so laden with pop-culture references such that introducing a hand grenade that gives you a Mr. T appearance just seems like another day at the office.
While the real world, the community, the rare nod to pop culture, and the occasional Icelandic tradition have worked their way into the game now and then, throwing Daleks and Time Lords into the mix seems like a much bigger step. For the life of the game we have avoided aliens. All intelligent life is on the tree that started somewhere on Earth. The empires are human, the pirates are human, the strange cults are human, and even the Jovians and Triglavians are humans, if heavily modified or divergent.
But now, suddenly, after 18 years, aliens exist… Time Lords and Daleks are things in the timeline of New Eden, which feels like somebody opened a door. Maybe CCP will slam it back shut once they’re done, but they’ve already proven they’ll throw the lore in the air for a promotional event, so who knows. As we have seen, CCP saying something on Monday doesn’t mean they’ll live up to it come Friday.
In the end I am sure the lore will survive, but I think this will still be a bigger deal for some than CCP thinks.
And then there is the disappointment factor.
I think it is fair to say that at the end of 2021 there was a vocal chunk of the community angry at CCP over a variety of issues related to their handling of the economy. CCP’s objective and repeated demonstration that they believe that scarcity must be made permanent by essentially codifying it in the mechanics after promising that scarcity was not going to be a permanent state ,and briefly suggesting that the game was entering a new age of prosperity, has left people bitter and distrustful. We were angry already.
Add on to that the encroachment of NFTs and crypto into the Alliance Tournament and Hilmar out and about extolling the wonders of blockchain and play to earn in video games. (The article says there are no “concrete” plans to add this to EVE Online, but CCP has exactly one video game right now, so unless there is going to be a new crypto version of Hættuspil launched, New Eden is the destination.)
That has rightly made the community suspicious about the company and its plans as it seems quite possible that CCP, perhaps at the prompting of Pearl Abyss, might just drag New Eden into the dystopian libertarian hellscape that is cryto because it will make a few quick bucks now, and the long term be damned.
Then you can pile onto that all of the other things that players have been grousing about for ages, like Faction Warfare, low sec, PvE, and all the things that come up whenever we start examining the game, which has led to a general annoyance about CCP ignoring work that people feel needs to be done. Players that have been simmering close to a boil about long neglect are unlikely to be appeased by a splashy cross-promotion that reminds them just how far down the priority list they are.
Finally, there is the chemistry, or complete lack thereof, between the two IPs, EVE Online and Doctor Who.
Sure, there is some crossover between the fan bases. I used to watch Doctor Who back in the day (Tom Baker, best Doctor) and have poked my nose in with the relaunch over the last couple of decades. But the two are cut from very a very different cloth and they do not mesh well in my eyes. They each scratch a very different itch in the pantheon of scifi IPs. There isn’t a huge draw for the EVE community in this, and the Whovians seem somewhat taken aback by the whole thing as well.
All of which has managed to ignite responses online, and especially in /r/eve, hostile to the whole endeavor. The kindling was all out there and CCP managed to throw a match right in the middle of it.
Welcome to EVE Online. It must be a day that ends in Y.
The whole thing just makes me feel like I need a nap.
It is a half-assed cross-promotion that breaks the lore and doesn’t really appeal to either fanbase, and feels like it could have been done better. But CCP apparently needed something to boost the new player count, and you make deals with the IPs that are available to you. It could have been a worse IP I guess. At least we don’t ammo for our festival launchers that burst into Mr. T shaped fireworks I guess… though, I might be down with that.
The thing about New Eden is that it is on our timeline, just way out in the future, so you can find a lore reason for capsuleers to discover Mr. T or KPop or Doctor Who. You could have somebody dig up some holoreels of Doctor Who reruns… if the BBC didn’t copy over them… and have a burst of in-game mania for the subject that leads to ship SKINs or apparel or jelly babies or whatever. As somebody pointed out, we already have a knock-off sonic screwdriver in the game. Maybe even have the Guristas steal them and send us off to retrieve lost episodes. Sillier things have been done. Instead we’re going to fight actual Daleks.
And the reaction of the EVE player base has been over the top, though that largely due to this promotion sitting on top of a host of other issues that have stirred up capsuleers. It is another reminder that nothing happens in a vacuum. CCP is drifting perilously close to the situation Blizzard has found itself, where nothing they do seems to make the base happy. They are not there yet. There are still a host of concrete things they could do for the game that would make people happy. CCP just doesn’t appear to be all that interested in any of them.
In the end I just hope it was worth the cost in Dollars or Euros of Pounds as well as the cost in goodwill from the community.
- CCP – Doctor Who is coming to EVE Online!
- Massively OP – EVE Online is kicking off a huge collab with Doctor Who
- MMO Fallout – Eve Online Collabs With Doctor Who
- INN – Exterminate This!
- TNG – EVE Online, Doctor Who, and The Interstellar Convergence
- Investory Full – Did Somebody Call for The Doctor
- The Greybill – Exterminate! Exterminate!