Pearl Abyss Promises a Blockchain Economy while CCP Prepares for EVE Fanfest

A couple of things dropped for EVE Online yesterday.

First up was the Pearl Abyss Q4 2021 earnings call.  The company recorded a bump in overall revenue, though that bump had little to do with video games.  Revenue on the gaming front was down some in Q4, which is never a good sign, that generally being a high point for many titles with people having time to play and most titles running holiday events.

This is all covered in greater detail over at The Nosy Gamer, but I do want to pick a quote from the end of his post, in reference to the “play to earn” idea that the crypto bros have been pushing so hard.  Pearl Abyss has bought into that and foresees greater profits with crypto, finishing up that thought with:

We will shortly communicate with you in different stages about what we are currently preparing for. Our company and CCP Games both have operated MMOs for a long time and we do have the knowhow to maintain and manage a sustainable economic system. So we are confident we can create a stable blockchain ecosystem.

Leaving aside skepticism about CCP’s hamfisted, war ending manipulation of the New Eden economy and the myriad of issues that rightfully hound the flawed to the bone blockchain concepts (a presentation given at Stanford on that if you’re interested in more on that), it is readily apparent to anybody paying attention that even blockchain focused companies can’t create a stable blockchain ecosystem.

Bitcoin, which doesn’t suffer from the rampant theft, rug pulls, and scams of Ethereum and its smart contract brethren, isn’t a viable financial instrument due to wild fluctuations in price and service costs and slow transaction times, unless you really need to secrecy it provides and are willing to pay the premium required.  Everything else is worse than Bitcoin when it comes to stability, so how to you build an stable in-game blockchain ecosystem on top of that?

Hint:  You don’t.

Talk about not being able to read the room.  Have they not seen how badly this has gone for Ubisoft or how even EA is backing away from the crypto idea?

Now, I’ll grant that PA hasn’t actually done much on the crytpo front, so it isn’t like I expect it to be in EVE Online next week.  But they do keep talking about it, as does Hilmar, they keep bringing up CCP when they are talking about it, there was that NFT “experiment” during the Alliance Tournament, and it isn’t like CCP has some other game besides EVE Online right now that has any value, much less an actual economy.  There is still time to walk away from this very dumb idea, so maybe cooler heads will prevail.

We shall see.

Then, as part of the run up to EVE Fanfest, CCP did a live stream to announce things the are working on between now and then, followed by a dev blog to sum up/clarify what was mumbled or misstated on the stream.  Seriously, former CCP Dev Carneros pitched them softballs from a list of obviously prepared points and the CCP team seemed quite unprepared to speak coherently to about half of what was brought up.  CCP Swifts enthusiasm can only carry you so far.  It was not their finest hour.

We’re on a road to somewhere…

The highlights were:

  • Mystery Mining Adventure

Now that they have re-created a long career climb to mining perfection again via mechanics like waste, they’re going to introduce a new player experience to put people on that path.  One career agent made redundant, only five more to go?

  • Orbital Warzone

CCP is going to make player owned customs offices (POCOs) harder to defend in order to try and spark some conflict on that front.

  • Another Graphical Update

Literally their words, copied from the dev blog, and not me being snarky.  We’re moving closer to being able to create reflecto-porn on spaceships.  Not quite there yet, but you’ll be able to see structures and explosions reflected in that shiny Amarr gold trim.

  • Together We Compress

They are trying really hard to make it seem like you need to play the Guardians Gala event in order for them to unlock compression, but they are putting it on the test server tomorrow, so that seems like an empty threat.  This version of compression is not supposed to be as bad as mindbogglingly awful first run they put on the test server back in December, but we won’t really know until it lands there.  Some details:

  • Compression becomes a more social ability. The Industrial Command Ships (Rorqual, Orca and Porpoise) are getting new modules, which will enable all nearby fleet-mates to instantly compress their own materials.
    • This remote compression will be available at long ranges – over 200 km is possible.
  • As frequently requested, Gas and Moon Ore resources will become compressible, using these new modules.
  • The Porpoise will be able to compress Gas and Asteroid Ore, and both the Orca and Rorqual will be able to compress all resources – Gas, Ice, Asteroid Ore, and Moon Ore.
  • Compression will continue to be loss-less.
  • The capacity of Jet-cans will be doubled to make it easier for high-volume miners and haulers to work together more efficiently.

We’ll see how it looks soon I guess.

  • The Glorious Battleship

Having pushed the price of even basic battleship hulls past the 300 million ISK mark with last April’s industry changes (and don’t get me started on the price of faction battleships), CCP has decided to run with that and try to make them worth the extra ISK.  To get there they plan a role bonus that will make armor plates 50% more effective, shield extenders 100% more effective, as well as making it easier to fit an MJD when you fly one.  We’ll see if this has any impact on the PvP combat meta, but I bet it makes mission running in battleships a lot easier.  The joys of balancing PvP and PvE.

  • Crab Season Approaches

They want more capital ships to undock, but won’t make them cheaper, so they are making the CRAB beacons, introduced back in October, cost less.  You need to undock a capital ship to use one, so there you go, more capitals undocking.

  • Bolstered Bulkheads

CCP is going to roll back the nerf to capital resistance modules that landed with the Surgical Strike update in April of 2020 by half.  That and the industry updates of April of 2021 made people dock up their capital ships.  Never mind carrots, we’re now just happy that CCP is hitting us with 50% less stick.

  • Rorqual Hotdrop

Rorquals are getting a conduit jump ability akin to what blackops battleships got last June, allowing them to jump a small fleet.  CCP envisions people taking a very expensive capital mining platform on “mining adventures” with this change.  I nominate this as a candidate for and “unexpected outcomes” award when players get their hands on it.

  • Blueprint Changes

CCP would like people to use dreadnoughts and are thinking about maybe changing the blueprints so they don’t cast 8 billion ISK to build and fit, but they haven’t actually committed to that.  Still, after many months of players going on about this problem, it is nice to hear CCP at least acknowledge that the issue won’t go away by insisting producers will eventually step into line with their grand economic plan.

  • Structure Changes

We have complained about Upwell structures enough that CCP feels obliged to do something.  They haven’t said what, just that it is on the list.

  • No More Quadrants

They couldn’t keep that theme going, so they’re giving up the idea.  The New Dawn age of permanent scarcity quadrant was the last one of those.  They’ll get into their new plan at Fanfest.  As the banner says, a new era approaches.

And then there was a push for Fanfest.  I am wondering how that is shaping up, as early bird tickets, which used to be limited in supply and generally disappeared quickly, were still being mentioned right up to the last day they were available.

Anyway, that is my roundup.  No doubt you can detect some cynicism on my part, though I will say that I think CCP’s two years of “all stick, no carrot” handling of the game warrants a bit of that.  Add in Pearl Abyss and Hilmar talking crypto and CCP removing that presentation about World War Bee I mentioned last week from the press site, and I feel like cynicism is still on the mark right now.

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16 thoughts on “Pearl Abyss Promises a Blockchain Economy while CCP Prepares for EVE Fanfest

  1. bhagpuss

    As an outside observer, based on the popular reputation of EVE when it comes to the kind of things players are permitted to do under the rules, things that would get you a lifetime ban in most other mmos, it seems to me that EVE would be the single worst mainstream mmo to start experimenting with blockchain and NFTs. Leave aside the very real possibility of significant numbers of players just leaving the game altogether, the possibilities for major financial indiscretions that could make waves outside of the shallow mmo pool seem immense.

    It’s going to be one to watch if it happens, that’s for sure.

    Like

  2. Archey

    I have to say I laughed hard at “50% less stick”. I guess that can look like a carrot given the circumstances?

    I feel pretty confident that they will continue the NFT craze until or past the point where it spectacularly fails. This is because of two things: 1- CCP and Eve are fancied to be the embodiment of the libertarian anarcho-technological ideal. There couldn’t be a better match thematically… for better or worse. And 2- CCP has a long history of charging quixotically after their obsessions regardless of player feedback or good sense. The trick is discerning which is an idea they have vs an obsession, and this is looking like the latter to me.

    I’m in agreement with Bhagpuss that this will be one to watch.

    Like

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Archey – Back in December, when CCP bragged about doubling the amount of minerals in asteroids after having reduced that amount by 90% previously, things were pegging the silly meter. And that doesn’t even cover the fact that they removed all asteroids from belts in null sec, so double nothing was still nothing.

    Hilmar said about a decade back that the era of the “Jesus Feature” was over. Now the dev meta is to make draconian changes. then ease up on them slightly and expect adoration.

    As for the blockchain thing, CCP has gone into its usual mode of dismissing all objections as people not understanding (which also happens to be the primary crypto bro talking point) and being coy, saying they don’t have any plans and that Pearl Abyss doesn’t tell them what to do, all while PA is telling its shareholders that blockchain is coming.

    I am both dismayed about this and kind of eager to see what sort of train wreck it will develop into. Some people just want to watch the world burn.

    Like

  4. carson63000

    Bhagpuss, I thought EVE was a bizarre game to embrace “a blockchain economy”, too.

    Surely the only purpose of recording ownership on a blockchain, rather than on a centralized database managed by the game developer, is to allow ownership to be freely transferred out-of-game, without CCP having any involvement?

    Why would a game that is famous for its willingness to experiment with new ideas, like PLEX, to combat out-of-game real money trading, choose to embrace a technology designed to enable that out-of-game trading?

    Like

  5. evehermit

    “There is still time to walk away from this very dumb idea, so maybe cooler heads will prevail.”

    I would not put money on cooler heads prevailing. At best we can hope is that they take so long to implement that others failing before them scare them off, or some world wide health, military or economic disaster distracts them.

    Like

  6. Anonymous

    Has anybody not in the libertarian cult ever explained what the purpose of an NFT is other than be able to say you own one? Has anyone ever explained why the blockchain is of interest to anyone other than drug dealers and speculators?

    Like

  7. Silverangel

    Blockchain is a software platform that uses a distributed network of unique tokens to do things. It’s not going to sicken your livestock and make your wife mount a broomstick when the full moon hits.

    Like

  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Silverangel – Yes, and I made some very specific statements about how bad it is for the uses people are proposing for it, including a link to a paper pointing out many of its flaws, and here you are giving me the typical crypto bro nonsensical “you don’t understand” answer. If you cannot refute the problems being brought up, you just resort to insults. That is the level of argument in favor of blockchain most days of the week, and it isn’t convincing.

    It is just software, but any company evaluating it against alternatives available will see that it is slow, inefficient, expensive, and flawed, leaving out environmental impact and the fact that the majority stake in all of it is owned by a very small group of people whose primary purpose is to cash out.

    Like

  9. Silverangel

    I don’t have the of day to refute every anti-crypto post. And there are a lot of grey areas, which are exacerbated by anti-crypto engaging in many oversimplifications and generalizations that would take essays to discuss. I could point out that you are using insults by calling people “crypto bros” here and in your blog post. So you went there. What’s fair is fair.

    Like

  10. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Silverangel – At least I provided some substance in my post, while you have refuted nothing. Your two comments so far are devoid of anything beyond the level of “nuh-uh!” with an insult tacked on to the end of one and a whiny “you insulted first” to the other.

    That is the level of argument the pro-crypto faction has engaged in constantly, some handwaving about over simplification and not understanding and you think you’ve made a point when all you’ve demonstrated is the complete lack of substance you bring to the discussion. I doubt you could refute anything, frankly. Your screed about having a comment deleted over at Massively OP was all bile and no substance as well. Fascism? Really?

    Poor little you, you want to get rich on the crypto grift and the facts are getting in the way. You want to get in bed with scammers and criminals and you don’t want your feelings hurt? Good luck with that.

    Like

  11. Silverangel

    Wow, this is really escalating here. I guess Jack Dorsey, Cathy Wood, Elon Musk, Brian Kelly, other investment analysts I could name, and many brilliant blockchain developers, are all criminals and scammers then. To be clear, my original comment was more directed at the comments here in the thread, not you. Sorry if you felt personally attacked or something.

    Like

  12. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Silverangel – You forgot Brad Pitt on the list.

    And everybody you name stands to benefit greatly from blockchain because it is a closed system that generates no value on its own, so somebody else has to buy in for them to cash out, so I am naturally suspicious of their motives. But when I look at how blockchain actually functions, I am sure they are in it for the money and not the technology because the technology is suitable for the purposes being proposed. The benefits… everybody loves to shout “decentralization” like it is a shamanistic blessing that means something special… are minimal and the cost and overhead are huge. I can do everything blockchain offers with a Google Cloud Portal account better, faster, and cheaper. It is a no brainer.

    I worked with a very smart guy who went on to be a senior exec at Juicero, which was another very dumb idea that failed as expected. To this day he insists that it was good tech and a good idea. He isn’t dumb or evil, but he was invested it the idea and everybody isn’t smart about everything all the time.

    Like

  13. Silverangel

    Well, there do need to be healthy participants for the blockchain to function in the first place. And no one will participate unless there is a profit incentive for holding the tokens. And the developers can control to some extent the value of the tokens. There is almost a game economy sort of model to it, and full disclosure these are real reasons why I’ve invested. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean most much less all of these people are greedy, criminal, and just want to be quick and filthy rich. I just want modest returns on a diversified portfolio, and maybe pay in crypto someday without needing either cash or a credit card. What about the greed of credit card companies? How much energy do all those credit cards consume? What about the plastic waste? Thanks for your perspectives.

    Like

  14. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Silverangel – Have you looked up how much electricity a single bitcoin transaction consumes? It is bad technology. A lot of ATMs can sit running idle for months for the same amount of power.

    I don’t love banks or credit card companies, but the main financial system serves billions of people daily while blockchain caters to maybe 400K individuals, so the wastefulness of blockchain is way out of proportion to any benefit it might give… and, as I stated previously, it gives no real benefit to anybody save for those who control the system and get paid for each transaction.

    Blockchain is objectively bad for the purposes it is being used.

    Like

  15. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Silverangel – No, it is not, and waving it away like it is does not does not constitute an argument, it just makes it seem like you can’t refute it. Basically, you have not said one thing of substance nor even one thing that refutes any assertion I have made.

    And this is exactly the level of discussion that nearly every blockchain proponent offers up.

    You put your money where you like. You have my opinion and good tech will overcome bad arguments, while bad tech will fall apart no matter what one believes. We’ll see how it plays out.

    But coming here over and over and essentially saying “nuh-uh” isn’t going to change anybody’s mind. You have a whole blog of your own, I invite you go to town on blockchain there at your leisure.

    Like

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