Five Problems CCP Will Never Fully Solve

Time to just bang on about EVE Online a bit more before Fanfest.

Revelations – November 2006 – This is where I came in on things

Illicit RMT

To be fair to CCP, nobody is ever going to solve this issue short of abolishing all player trade and like interactions.  If one player can accumulate a lot of something somebody is always going to be willing to pay a little real world cash for it.

And I am not saying that CCP should stop trying to fight it.  There is a level of effort beyond which there are diminishing returns, but no effort at all leads to a worse place.  Anybody who has been in a free to play game like Lost Ark or Runes of Magic knows what gold seller proliferation looks like… though I wonder if people would even notice in Jita local chat.

But some gold sellers are just going to live in the margins, selling ISK or whatever, because there is some money to be made.  Of course, by raising the price of PLEX, CCP has made the margins a bit more habitable.  Nothing comes without a cost.

Botting

Like illicit RMT, I am not suggesting that CCP ignore bots.  And it does seem that CCP has made headway over the years, at least against the more egregiously obvious botting practices.

But here, as with RMT, there is always going to be an area in the margins where CCP is not going to be able to catch everybody.

In part, that is because the game itself is full of dull, repetitive processes that are easily automated.  And it isn’t just mining or courier missions.  If you do a little digging you will find bots that do all sorts of things and bot makers have long learned to put some variability in their actions so that you can’t spot them by looking for exact intervals between actions.

And then there is the fact that false positives are a worse than not catching a bot.  In a game where I suspect four out of five people complaining about bots think that anybody who warps to a citadel when somebody shows up in local must be a bot… which is manifestly not true… spotting who is actually a bot is much harder than it thinks.  Again, the game has enough routine actions that are dull and repetitive that spotting a bot is a coin toss at best.

Capital Proliferation

We have spent the last year hearing from team running the game that cheap capitals are bad.  But CCP also made the decision, against the advice of the CSM, to make the Rorqual a mining monster back in 2016, which made minerals so cheap that capital ships… which were all T1 builds so the cost was just minerals… were suddenly everywhere.  A titan in every hangar in Delve was the GSF goal at one point.

Then, last April, CCP made the big blueprint change and made capital ships very expensive to build, thinking that would solve the problem of there being too many.  What it did was make everybody reluctant to commit capital ships because the replacement costs were suddenly outrageous.  But they were all still there, in hangars, and they weren’t doing the game or CCP any good there.  World War Bee didn’t end on a glorious capital ship brawl, but on a half hearted sub-cap raid into 1DQ1-A, after which PAPI went home.

When it comes down to it, capital ships being blown up are better for the game than them sitting in hangars.  Big, expensive battles get game news headlines.  So CCP has begun walking back the capital ship part of their economic starvation plan.

New Player Experience

The new player experience has gotten better over the years.  I will stipulate to that.  But I rather suspect that it hasn’t moved the needle very much at all on the 30 day player retention numbers, because at some point, no matter how deep CCP goes with the NPE, a player has to leave it and join the rest of us in the core of New Eden… and the game is frankly too deep and too complicated for most people to grasp.

Really, the only long term solution to player retention is a strong, existing community that can find places in their myriad groups for new players to join and learn about the madness that is EVE Online.

Being Anything Besides What It Is

This is something that comes from both within and from outside of the game, the idea that it really needs to be something other than it is.  Remaking the game as something else was on my list of persistent bad ideas that won’t seem to die.

But, as I wrote five years back, there is not going back to the launch state, when all things were possible.  We are 19 years down the road and the game has cemented its reputation.  Millions of people have tried the game, most of them moving on, and thousands of posts and articles have been written about it as well.  Even if CCP were to decide to change directions today and turn the game into a huggy, cuddly space teddy bears simulator with no PvP whatsoever, it would still be eyed suspiciously and… well, the UI would still be an untamable monster that still surprises bitter vets with hidden features nearly two decades down the road.

The only way forward is to embrace the game for what it is and make the best… whatever it really is… that it can be.

5 thoughts on “Five Problems CCP Will Never Fully Solve

  1. kiantremayne

    Re: illicit RMT – yup, as long as there’s a way for players to exchange anything in-game there will be those who do so in return for payments made out of game. Eliminating that would require not having any sort of economy at all… which would be a bit like having a game of football without a ball. And even then there would be RMT for “power-levelling”, or selling accounts, anything that gives people with a disposable income and an urge to feel like they’re “winning” (as opposed to feeling like they’ve EARNED a win) that winning feeling. File under “to fix this we need to fix human nature”.

    Bots – like RMT and the poor, they will always be with us. It’s a never-ending war between bot detection measures and ever-sneakier bots that try to fool those detection measures. Absolutely spot on with the problem that false positives bring too. The staples of any online game’s Reddit are “why don’t they ban anything that looks like a bot?” and “I was banned unfairly!”

    New player experience – the key to retention is not only a strong, existing community that CAN find places for new players, it’s a community that WANTS to welcome and slot in the new players, and not just as new marks to be fleeced. That’s as much a culture problem as a game design one (although game design can help), and EVE’s history has some horror stories it needs to get past on that score.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    EVE has more groups for new players… reliable and very helpful groups… than in the past, but there is that reputation, which is deserved because there are still people in game who enjoy fleecing new players.

    In the end you’re about a thousand times more likely to stick with it if you have a friend who plays already and can steer you past the scams and general pitfalls, so the installed base is more important than CCP seems to feel it is some days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Archey

    The scam question is something I’ve long been of two minds on.

    Eve is a dark, gritty game – I get it. Full consequences PvP – good. Even highsec being not fully safe space – great. High stakes mega battles with trillions on the line – wonderful. High amounts of bro culture – fine. But tricking people out of things by trading on a lack of knowledge of some truly arcane UI quirks or general newbiness – I often wonder if that’s a step too far.

    It’s totally ingrained in the game now and almost seems like the time to change it, if any, has come and gone. But I do wonder how many otherwise willing people it was the last straw for, and if it was worth it just to keep the most toxic of the community around.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. diessa

    What frustrates me about Eve’s community is that often “knowledge of the game” is construed as knowledge — or just memorization — of bad UI. That happens with a lot of scams, but it extends even into gameplay features. For example, a big part of exploration is managing 2-3 boxes blocking your screen while hitting a button to display things in a fourth box and looking for something to appear in a fifth box. More of the challenge comes from being distracted by cumbersome UI than prioritizing objectives or problem solving. Even cargo scanning, which could allow for prioritization, uses more cumbersome UI elements. Add to that the one second server ticks, and it really is a UX challenge instead of a gameplay challenge. This is false difficulty, and Eve in both reality and perception is awash in that; it’s disheartening that this quality has long since been solidified.

    Liked by 1 person

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