Daily Archives: January 6, 2023

The State of New Eden as EVE Online Approaches its 20th Year

CCP usually writes some sort of year end summary that, in turn, generally prompts me to write my own view of events.  And I am often more dour than the rosy image that the company tries to project.  But they are there to promote the game and I am usually just annoyed when they are trying to avoid what seems to be the reality of the situation. [They finally did post something, noted at the bottom of this article.]

For example, back in December of 2021 CCP was declaring an age of prosperity, claiming they had fixed the game for the long term by wrecking the economy, making capital ships too expensive to undock, and generally making players feel anything but prosperous.  My response about the state of the game was less than charitable.

CCP Rattati in December of 2021

CCP was basically deflecting and denying all criticism and telling people everything was great, wonderful, and there was no problems at all and that only they had the REAL data and that the player facing data was apparently just garbage.   Garbage they were feeding us while the CEO was talking about Monthly Active Users, one of the more garbage metrics in the industry for an MMO that depends on subscriptions.

And, on the heels of that, we got a cross-promotion with Doctor Who, which at the time seemed ludicrous but which, in hindsight, turned out to be the peak of 2022 so far as the game went.  Seriously, you can go look at the charts Jester has put together and see how 2022 played out in terms of capsuleer logins.

2022 Player Count Rolling Averages

The 7 day rolling average catches spikes and events while the 30 day gives a more measured trend.  The Doctor Who event ran in January, Uprising landed in November.  In between… from basically March through October essentially… there was something of a mid-year slump.

The revival in November looks okay on that chart… almost a sigh of relief moment… until you put it up against the last few years.

Four Year Player Count Rolling Averages

You get the high point of the year just passing the lowest point of 2020… which was, admittedly, an exceptional year once COVID hit a month AFTER that low point… and then the November peak just reaching up to tap the 2021 line… which was also not a great year… and you can be excused for not being all that excited about how the year turned out.

If you care to go through Jester’s charts he has another one that shows the average annual user logins since 2007, and 2022 is the lowest year on record on that front.  He also has some insights into his charts over on Reddit.

So maybe CCP wasn’t really in the mood to repeat the “everything is wonderful” annual summaries of the last couple of years.

Which is kind of a shame because the state of the game mechanics right now is… much better than it was.

I mean, it is not perfection by any measure, and some past ill considered ideas still haunt us… like citadels… but over the course of the year the CCP team did finally relent and roll back some of the things that had been keeping people from undocking.

They made capital ships at least somewhat more affordable, runed the dynamic bounty system so any system worth ratting in wasn’t sitting at 30% or 50% bounties, tried to put a bandage on the mineral shortage caused by locking keep ores into low sec, and even took a swing Heavy Assault Cruiser meta to make null sec look less like Muninns Online.

And, of course, there was the Uprising expansion, which brought a host of new things, including a long overdue pass at faction warfare.

Unfortunately, there was still a lot weighing against CCP in 2022, not the least of which was still, deep down, refusing to admit to being wrong on any of their garbage economic pronouncements of the last couple of years, and especially the pseudo-philosophical groundings for their decisions, which I have groused about in the past.

You can ask whether or not that really matters, but I think it does.  It mattered back in the last debacle, after Incarna, when CCP seemed at least momentarily repentant about some ill advised moves and, while they didn’t actually apologize… because they never do… they did overtly refocus on flying in space and working on broken and neglected items that players had been asking about for ages.

Then there was the 33% increase in the subscription price… 33% for those who pay in Euros or US dollars, but often more for those who pay in other currencies… that didn’t help anything at all.  I thought it odd that they didn’t opt for a smaller increment, but I could hardly blame them as the price of an MMO subscription has pretty pretty static for the last couple of decades while the price of everything else has gone up.

And there remains the ever present problem of getting new players into the game, something that I suspect was helped by neither the price increase nor the economic fumbling that drove some old hands to walk away from the title.  As anybody who has watched the genre over time knows, the installed base is as important a resource as new players, and you throw one over for the other at your peril.

So it is a time of mixed emotions.  A big expansion and things looking better after a couple years of struggling seem like reason enough to be optimistic.  But the player count being down… and not knowing how much of that expansion bump was due to CCP giving away a week of Omega time to every account… gives one pause.

Okay, maybe not that much pause…. The first known occurrence of “EVE is Dying”

Add in the fact that we have something of a collapse of the online sites that talk about the game… be happy r/eve is still active, because Imperium News, EN24, and a number of blogs went mostly dormant over the summer and have yet to return… and reasons to celebrate might seem a bit sparse.

Then there is the new year.  We don’t even have a Doctor Who event to brighten up January.  But we are coming up to the 20th anniversary of the launch of the game in May.  I assume we’ll have something big in May when the date arrives.  Something to look forward to I hope.

Addendum:  Of course I wrote this early in the week and am finally ready to press publish and CCP gets around to posting their annual summary.

Funny thing… it doesn’t make me want to change anything I wrote.  If you read their post, which you can find here, 2022 consisted of the Uprising expansion and nothing else.  That is the only thing in 2022 worth talking about according to CCP… but I guess if you go back up to Jester’s charts, you can see why.  And Uprising was good.  But there wasn’t any talk about walking back some of their fundamental errors in economic thought which made a difference to many people as well.

As for what is coming, Simplified Chinese in the Tranquility client is a good thing.  The influx of Chinese players since the Serenity server in China saw one faction dominate the game has helped keep EVE Online alive for the rest of us.  Imagine the user counts without them.

Otherwise it is things we expect or have already been announced with no additional details.

CCP needs to have something big up its sleeve to carry the momentum from the Uprising expansion.  Like I said, the state of the game, or at least the mechanics, is much better than it was a year ago.  We’ll see if CCP pull something together to capitalize on that.