Welcome to the Blog Banter #28. In the light of the recent events regarding EVE, CCP, the CSM and a bleeding player base, blogger Seismic Stan of Freebooted has opened the banter and asks this question:
"In recent months, the relationship between CCP and it's customers has been the subject of some controversy. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management has played a key role in these events, but not for the first time they are finding CCP difficult to deal with. What effect will CCP's recent strategies have on the future of EVE Online and it's player-base? What part can and should the CSM play in shaping that future? How best can EVE Online's continued health and growth be assured?"
Ever since Tyrannis came out, it has become apparent that Crowd Control Productions Inc. has not been treating its flagship game the way a flagship should be treated. They've been treating it as a test bed for an eventual planetary based first-person shooter and its means of communication with EVE (Dust514 with Tyrannis, PI and all that jazz), and also for an eventual vampire MMO (World of Darkness with Incarna, space Barbies, etc.). All this is old news. And now a new name is being given to the part part of EVE Online that is its main purpose in life and it boggles the mind to see a company refusing to name the game that is its bread and butter by the name they gave it. The game is called EVE ONLINE the last time I checked, not FLYING IN SPACE. And because that part of EVE has been neglected for so long because of other pet projects, the player base is now losing patience and a lot of people are leaving for greener pastures. "The 40000 people logged smile at you" or something like that is a comment I have read on the forums lately. And it's a pretty shallow comment when you realise that a year ago that number was more around 50000. Attrition much?
At every FanFest CCP beats its own chest about the number of subscribers. Now tell, how many of you have more than one account? How many have more than five? Hell some people have more than TEN accounts; I seriously doubt that these people have anything remotely ressembling a social life but I digress. I sincerely hope that the number of subscribers is calculated based on mailing adresses and not game accounts because this would only proove that CCP is full of hot air. But people actually logging in and playing, these numbers do not lie. Less people playing despite a very high number means only one thing: interest is waning. And every time CCP does or says something (see what I did there Hilmar?) that upsets player interest, they shoot themselves in the foot. As I write this EVE may not be "dying", but it is hurting. A lot.
Back in June at the height of Incarnageddon, Monoclegate, the Jita Riots or whatever happened on Quebec's St-Jean-Baptiste day, CCP called in the Councill of Stellar Management for an emergency meeting to heal what was a wide-open wound. And now it seems that the paying customers of CCP are being kept in the dark on what was actually said there because of a pesky little thing called the Non Disclosure Agreement. So let me get this straight, we the player elect a council to deal with CCP about some problems, bring some solutions to said problems, and basically making sure the players are happier, therefore more willing to stay on as a customer, but CCP then tells the CSM that it can't inform the players what actually happened? Way to make people trust you CCP! So if the company only listens to what the player-elected council says and does whatever it wants after, then the CSM has failed and has become pointless. Sad to say but there it is.
So the only way to assure EVE's and ultimately CCP's survival is simple: DO NOT ONLY WATCH WHAT WE DO AND LISTEN TO WHAT WE SAY! The players have been repeating some things for years on end now, and the only response we got were things like "18 months", "soon™", "after it is implemented", "soon™ (redux)", etc. All the while releasing the "test bed" material, usually half-finished and broken, which is stuff the majority of the players didn't want or need anyway, and they break something that was working perfectly before. Well I as a player say this: how about adding content that the players actually ask for instead of just improvising stuff that will get ignored. And how about picking up the pieces of the myriad things the players keep telling you don't work as intended. We the players are a major part of the bread that CCP can put on its table. If CCP keeps biting the hand that feeds it, at some point the hand will be a lot more careful before it feeds again.
On a personnal note, I'd like to point out why I came back when I was already on leave even before Incarnageddon started. I've said it many times, there is only a very small percentage of the game that I'm interested in, but I'm interested enough to pay for it. If the part of EVE Online that I love dies, I want to go down with it. As long as there will be people to catch in belts, duals to honor and even ships to lose, I'll be playing. I hope that day is far off and I also hope that CCP smells a really strong batch of player-prepared coffee and adds even a tiny amount of content to the tiny part of EVE I have been into for the past 3.5 years, 4 years this winter.