EVE Fanfest has come and gone and now it is Monday and most of us are still digesting the news of EVE Online and its path forward into its third decade.
And one of the immediate question is probably, “Was it a good Fanfest?”
I think if 2022 had been a normal year, if the things announced by CCP had come in 2018, then people would have been fine with the what was announced and what CCP brought to the table, or at least no more annoyed than we players, as a group, tend to be. You cannot please everybody.
It might not have been a Fanfest of legend, an inflection point where the game changed dramatically, a Fanfest where a new vision was announced that would guide the game for the next half a decade.
It might have even been a good Fanfest. After all, CCP did go after Faction Warfare, which has had problems for years and which has had to limp along with tweaks and minor fixes while sweeping mechanics changes elsewhere… things like Upwell structures… changed the scenery of the game dramatically.
However, as you no doubt know, 2022 was not a normal year for CCP or EVE Online. We went into Fanfest some things looming over the festivities.
Leaving aside that this was the first Fanfest in Iceland since 2018, the first real Fanfest since CCP was acquired by Pearl Abyss, and the first official event since COVID hit, CCP had three burdens it needed to compensate for.
The first was the handling… or mishandling… of the in-game economy, driven as it has been by something like a college freshman level philosophy spelled out back in 2020. CCP had been trying to reign in the economy for a while as they had made ISK faucets and resource harvesting (the Rorqual problem, which they caused despite the CSM telling them exactly what would happen) too generous, but it had been more of a “tune through modest nerfs” affair. People complained, but got over those changes pretty well.
Then CCP changed things up and decided to redo the economy, causing an era of economic starvation where, as an example, asteroid mineral output was dialed back by 90%. When they relaxed that to 80% and unilaterally declared an era or prosperity, many players were unimpressed. Everything was more expensive, earning ISK was harder, and capital ships were so dear that few dared undock them as their cost to replace was prohibitive. People remain angry about this and even CCP may have finally figured out that they’re still standing a little too hard on the throat of the economy. So quite a few of us, and I include myself, are still salty and distrustful after that.
Second was the subscription price increase. CCP announced that subscription prices would go from a base of $15 a month to $20 a month, a 33% jump. The price had not changed since 2004, but as I noted a year back, people have been trained by tech in general to expect prices to either go down or for capability to go up for the same price.; welcome to the world of Moore’s Law.
That doesn’t really apply to software development, which depends on people who don’t double in productivity every 18 months and who want to get a pay raise every once in a while to compensate for inflation. But fans don’t, or won’t, see that and the subscription hike immediately led to demands that CCP give players something for the extra money they were asking for. That’s not the way this works, but it set fans against the company.
Third, there was how expectations were set for Fanfest. This was a completely unforced error caused when CCP threw CCP Paragon in front of the angry mob after the price increase announcement, which caused him to almost immediately say the following:
We are announcing big content updates for fanfest. it’s the largest one we’ve ever done probably.
Again, I would hate to have been in CCP Paragon’s shoes, but there it was, spoken out and recorded in front of a live audience, copied down and quoted over and over again. Everything would be made better by what was being announced at Fanfest.
That was never going to come to pass. Any serious reflection on the game, the company, and the combined history of the two, would lead you to that conclusion. I am pretty sure most within CCP knew that this was going to be an impossible bar to clear. You can see it in the padding of the daily Fanfest summaries that CCP published, where they tossed in already announced things, like the Siege Green update slated to go live tomorrow, as well as any vague mention of maybe something being looked into at a future date.
That practice is essentially piling shit high enough in the hopes that the sheer volume will be impressive.
So, given those three factors, a lot seemed to be riding on the EVE Fanfest Keynote. The keynote speech is where the high level big announcements are supposed to land. You can go into depth in later sessions, but this is the build up to get everybody excited, the moment that sets the tone for the whole event. We have seen that with EVE Fanfest and like events. Blizzard, for example, knows how to roll a good keynote to make the most of what they have to offer.
However, CCP fell somewhat flat on the Keynote. And when it failed to come close to meeting the already impossible expectations, CCP Rattati got on Twitter and doubled down on setting expectations badly, promising “more tomorrow.” This is metaphor for how CCP is mishandling things. There was not, in fact, “more tomorrow,” save for some additional details, so there was both a misunderstanding of what a keynote should be and an attempt to string players along, compounding disappointment.
So it goes.
Which isn’t to say that the opening remarks and keynote were bad. There was a lot there, and a lot to unpack. In addition to the things I brought up on Friday… and Faction Warfare still tops that list… there were some other tidbits that are probably of interest.
For example, there is now an official EVE Online Discord server, which you can join by clicking this link or using the QR code below.
The Discord server has SIX news channels, so I have five of those now piped into the TAGN Discord server so I will get all the news popping up without all of the other stuff. (I skipped the social media alerts, since I assume those will be news items that will appear elsewhere.)
Hilmar got up and spoke about how many people had played a game that was part of the EVE Online IP.
While EVE Echoes accounts for something like 14 million of those players, that still leaves a lot of people who have been to EVE Online.
There was also some more specifics about EVE Online in general.
CCP has been ramping up the EVE Online development team since the last time there was a Fanfest, with a target of having 150 people working on the game.
That is a pretty significant increase and, as Hilmar pointed out, adding people does not automatically increase productivity. And it wasn’t clear if that included the expanded Shanghai dev team, which handles the Serenity server in China. But that is still a lot of people working on the game, which might lead one to expect bigger things going forward.
But a lot of what came out of the whole thing was vague, unfinished, forward looking, or held back because CCP says they don’t want to spoil a surprise, leaving us with a road map to the game’s 20th birthday that looks like this.
But those are fairly general things, and there is still a lot of details to come on many of them, not to mention the analysis and speculation that the players will do on the bits and pieces that have been revealed.
So there isn’t much concrete here, mostly because not a lot concrete was delivered. We’ll have to wait for the eventual dev blogs to see the details as to what is really coming. But I am sure there will be more opinions coming from various sources. The drama will continue until morale improves.