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.
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.
- Pearl Abyss – Q4 2021 Earnings call and presentation
- TNG – Review of the PA Q4 2021 Earnings Call
- CCP – The Road to Fanfest Twitch Stream
- CCP – The Road to Fanfest Dev Blog
- CCP – Forum Post with Compression Details
- INN – Battleships are Back
- Ashy in Space – Reverting Surgical Strike
- Reddit – /r/eve response to dev stream
- Reddit – /r/eve response to dev blog
- Reddit – /r/eve response to compression details forum post
- Massively OP – EVE Online Previews Updates
- Massively OP – Pearl Abyss believes it can ‘create a stable blockchain ecosystem