A New Kind of Blackout Comes and Goes for EVE Online

Since the update last week when CCP decided to put up the Prospector Pack on the web store, which sold players a fully, if badly, fit ship, skills to pilot it, some PLEX, and 30 days of Omega time, there has been quite a bit of push back on the company from various segments of the community.  Current and former members of the CSM put their signatures to an open letter to CCP asking them not sell packs like this.

Not player produced

Reactions to CCP selling the “wrong” thing have been a trigger in the past, and all the more so since the lesson of skill injectors demonstrated that statements from the company have a short expiration date.  If you don’t push back today, tomorrow the company will do something worse.

The backlash against CCP selling fully fitted ship packs has carried into the world of EVE Online streamers with a protest called The Blackout.

I saw some poor person on /r/eve excited because they thought Hilmar’s disastrous chaos era experiment was returning.  But this is something different.  It even has its own web page. (Since removed, archived version linked at the end of the post.)

A group of streamers has decided to put up a message on their streams to protest the sale of the Prospector Pack and the potential that CCP will offer more such packs in the future.  It is black screen with a simple message:

New Eden Post Blackout Stream

The idea is to get this message up and visible when people look at the EVE Online category on Twitch.  As I started writing this, 11 of the 34 active EVE Online streams were displaying this message, but only one of them was in the first row of results, New Eden Post.

I picked the image above for a reason.  New Eden Post is easily the most popular Twitch channel that is part of the protest.  NEP is also at the center of a minor controversy because of the protest.

When the protest started, CCP inadvertently broadcast the NEP stream on their own channel as part of their program of displaying partner streams when the CCP channel isn’t actively broadcasting.  It is a perk of being in the partnership program.  This bit of comedy, with CCP broadcasting the protest against itself, brought the protest to the attention of the company.  CCP determined that being a part of the protest would put a streamer in violation of the partnership program rules.

You cannot be a partner and be part of this protest.

This led to Redline XIII, who runs NEP, to leave the partnership program.  The departure has led to something of a “did he jump or was he pushed” argument, which seems like splitting hairs to me.  He left because he said that the protest was more important than being a partner.  However, it is also clear that if the protest continued, he would be kicked from the program anyway, so there was only one end result compatible with protesting, and it was CCP who made that determination.

Now, of course, not everybody is against the Prospector Pack. As there are people who will get mad at CCP no matter what they do, there are the usual suspects out there who will support CCP in any situation as well.  Several streams have come out in support of the pack and whatever else CCP wants to sell.

And in between the two camps there is the great uncaring mass of players who likely don’t know and probably don’t care either way.

Will the protest make any difference?

Maybe.

Since I started this post, CCP has announced that they are removing the Prospector Pack from the web store, though the announcement says that they are still working on some sort of pack system for new players that may use in-game produced assets.  But all of that is for fanfest.

The announcement was in the CSM open letter thread, so maybe it was strictly a reaction to that.  On the other hand, that thread got no response for more than a week, and since then the Twitch protest started.  So maybe the protest made a difference.  Maybe Redline XIII did not give up his partner program membership in vain.

Related:

Addendum – Responses to the end of the pack announcement:

7 thoughts on “A New Kind of Blackout Comes and Goes for EVE Online

  1. bhagpuss

    There’s always the possibilty that the Prospector Pack underperformed commercially so it was deemed not worth making a stand over at this time. And that the data gathered from putting it on sale will feed back into a better-targeted offer next time, until CCP work out where the break-point between what makes a significant uptick in income when sales gained are compared against subscriptions cancelled.

    Of course, that assumes they know what they are doing, which is always a big assumption with any gaming company as far as I can tell. Mostly it seems to be a bit of “hit and hope” and a lot of “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. arhanta

    Regarding the ‘great uncaring mass of players’ – I think it would be interesting to find out exactly how much people listen to CCP announcements, CSM communications, and major player-run news sources. Media will always (understandably) enlarge its importance. Do the hundreds of players or clones ‘krabbing’ in the far reaches of nullsec or wormholes truly care about this?

    Numbers, I want numbers. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Archey

    The dark reaches of my mind say it’s something like 1 in 7 or 1 in 10. Take that number with a Kilimanjaro of salt because it may have been actual data or it could have been conjecture- I don’t remember.

    But it is a number!

    Like

  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @arhanta – I am going to guess that, on most things, 90% of players don’t notice the announcements or think about changes to the game until the change has a direct, post-patch impact on their play style.

    And of that remaining 10%, more than half pay attention but don’t post to forums, Reddit, Twitter, blogs, or where ever.

    Then, from that less than 5% left over, many only chime in when it is something that will have a direct impact on their play style.

    And this is why video game companies often ignore player feedback, good or bad. It is always the same voices, often chiming in on the same topic, over and over again. And, in that 5% there is at least a fifth who are pushing for something horrible wrong. That makes it easy to dismiss as the work of cranks.

    One of the complaints about WoW, as an example, is that they don’t listen to player feedback. I am sure they do, their annual April Fools patch notes is almost always drawn from that sort of thing, but they feel safe in ignoring it because they know how many players they have and they can see how few of them are actually complaining. The percentages seem to indicate that feedback is from fringe groups of players.

    What that misses is the changes that those people bitch about, but which also make some chunk of the silent mass of the player base simply walk away from the game without saying a thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Drama Drama Everywhere | Evehermit

  6. zaphod6502

    @Wilhelm: Does CCP post profit earnings each year? If they are struggling to make money maybe it would be better to remove the PLEX function and have subscription only play rather than game packages of dubious quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @zaphod6502 – CCP is owned by Pearl Abyss now, so they appear as part of their quarterly earnings announcement, though they are lumped into the same bucket as EVE Echoes, the NetEase mobile game based on EVE, so we don’t know exactly how they’re doing, but EVE overall was 21% of the Pearl Abyss revenue.

    PLEX has been around since early 2009. If it weren’t making them money, it wouldn’t still be around. PLEX is a cash cow for them. It is their cash shop currency and it has the added benefit of providing a legit alternative to illicit ISK RMT.

    There is no going back to a subscription only model. The ship has sailed. WoW is the rare outlier on that front now, and even they let you play for free up to level 20. In the price war, free is now the opening bid.

    Liked by 2 people

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