EVE is EVIL

Just a quick one – I promise.  James_315 wrote one of his “EVE is dying” pamphlets over at “The Mittani” followed in short order by a sloppy little piece by “The Mittani” himself discussing the announcement that EVE has broken through 500k subscribers and personal taking credit for turning the company around (well, ok, he didn’t but he was close).   That is a little contradictory, isn’t it?

Bottom line,  CCP is boosting numbers by making a better spaceship game but whats the next market expansion?   Growth can only come from one of two sources, either the existing demographic (market penetration) or a new one (market expansion).

The existing market.

Defining EVE’s market is not so easy – its more “Facebook” than “World of Warcraft” for its engaging metagame working outside of the game client and its more “Second Life” than “Planet Side” for its persistent content based on relationships. And while CCP has (hopefully or they need to hire me…) much better data on their demographics, (average) players in New Eden are older, better educated, spend more time in-game and more resources on the game than their average counterparts in e.g. WoW.  It is a demographic more likely to read “Reddit” than spend time playing “Farmville” and marketing campaigns needs to be tailored appropriately.  Point is, in this market, EVE Online is not a game, its a Oreamno had put it on this ” title=”About gaming addiction” href=”https://splatus.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/about-addiction/”>blog).

Marketers asking themselves of course how they get access to that segment and that is fair but I’d ask where do people in that segment come from and where do they go.  For example, I’d try to catch customers directly from IT heavy universities and colleges, even high schools.  I’d go in with the message “EVE is hard” as CCP has done in the past.

EVE Is hard

Allegedly it didn’t go so well -that campaign was pulled pretty quickly – its obvious, why.  “Hard”  is a feature, not a benefit.  Being a hard game is easy – just ramp up the AI of the NPCs or something.  But offering great reward to those who overcome and endure – now that is better design and EVE has that in spades – the rewards for persistence and dedication are phenomenal compared with the rewards that a casual player gets.  So, why not talk about it?  The Butterfly Effect add was the best add CCP ever ran – it didn’t show really what the game does, it showed what what the player experiences.  (so was “I was there” btw, which I still think is one of the best advertisements in gaming history).  So, CCP, you know how to do it right, just do more of that.

And that is the demographic that James_315 wants of course and he is right in his assertion that the game grew from and by this demographic.

New markets

If the core market for CCP is the hardcore geeks with stamina and persistence to stick with one game for 10 years, what other markets are available for the company to expand into? The casual MMORPG market is a funeral pyre for companies going after Warcraft’s theme park – why?  The demographic of suburban 14 year olds with oodles of pocket money and nothing to do but squeeze zits and play online game is a tempting target.  Blizzard went there, shed the hardcore gamers in the process and grew made collecting “Peaceblooms” a  profession worthy of a Deathknight.  And while financially a very attractive market, its extremely fickle – no attention span and retention rates, demands for safety everywhere and instant satisfaction.  In a culture where kids learn that everyone is a winner, shooting a Hulk with a Catalyst can not be tolerated.

Mittani argues that Incarna was going after that market – with walking in station – but that it didn’t work since CCP lost its core customers without attracting new ones to make up for it.  True – that is because Incarna was / is such a screwed up expansion.  The marketing logic remains sound however and it is James_315 biggest fear that this demographic will ruin the game.  Maybe.

But interestingly, the Goons advertise basically just that to their new players.  Snatching them from the cradle, making them valuable tacklers on day 1, showering them with ISK and attention, the Goons understand that a theme park approach is absolutely required for player retention.  So, if they are allowed to do this, why shouldn’t CCP?

And after all, Be Careful goons (and James_315).  You, the bitter vets, are the very small and vocal minority in EVE.  Every time you hear about a 500 ship fleet doing something, you have 480 bored line members who wait for the FC to order them around.  These are just the people who farm in highsec and would jump into other games if EVE was “too hard”.

Bottom line, CCP straddles a few different markets and has to dance on edge between retaining the old bittervets and growing the game universe they created.  I know what I would do in CCP’s shoes that is – advertise the crap out of the existing features in the existing markets but develop features for the new ones.  Shedding a few bittervets in the end won’t be such a big deal if the new markets can pick up the slack.

Incarna is (or should be) a Harvard Business Review how not do expand into new markets but it looks like that CCP is turning the corner now and is growing their subscribers.  CCP may have learned its lesson and turned the ship around, in the end, I have more respect for a company (or person for that matter) that persists through challenges, risks big and doesn’t mind getting kicked in the teeth occasionally if the reward is great.

Thats why EVE online is my game.

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11 responses to “EVE is EVIL

    • Oh, so true. Movie trailers would be awesome. Wouldn’t be even better if there was an EVE movie?

      The problem CCP has it that the general audience can not bond with space ships. They bond with people. Just the thing that Incarna (and DUST??) are trying to fix.

      But I fully endorse the idea of movie trailers – it would be awesome. Lets make one (at least lets make an alliance recruitment clip)

      • Did you see Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn or Halo 4 Spartan Ops webseries? They worth the time. Make something similar to these, advertise it a bit and watch the new player numbers increase. :evilgrin: I’m not much into FPSes but even I had a small urge to try it out…

        The Butterfly Effect trailer is the best I saw till now. The second place belongs to the Dominion trailer. It’s end is the best:
        “- Dragon fleet, you can jump in.
        – Do you have a primary target?
        – Just burn them all. This system belongs to us.”

    • Great article!

      I also fully endorse what SkipTrac3r said above. I try to think to myself and knowing what appeals to me and think If i knew absolutely nothing about EVE and saw the EVE Forever Trailer linked above….. at the movies it would instantly without a doubt appeal to me on almost every level of what I find interesting and be curious enough to go have a look to find out more about it or the game. Thing is though CCP don’t make Trailers to show at movies nor have I ever seen an EVE advert at the movies. But these days many game companies do advertise their games at the movies with trailers. I’ve seen a Guild Wars 2 Trailer and even though it was very cool. Thats the only one I can remember as well seeing. Actually I find myself watching fewer movies these last few years as well playing MMO’s.

      On the note of Halo. I know of the game. But i’ve never played the game, don’t play shooters really. But I still know of the game very much. The interesting thing is As mentioned somewhere here already I also watch the Spartan Ops Mini Series on Youtube. Hell I’ve watched them all with interest, but I don’t even play the game. Just I find the series interesting to watch, but how many new players now play the games of the Halo franchise after seeing the series, i’m sure many due to marketing. How interesting could it be for CCP to make an EVE Mini Series of some sort using any part of EVE’s Universe be it Sleepers, or any the other ancient race, the Empire factions or whatever. It would be interesting as well have marketing value and another way to market the game.

      One thing I always wished I would see is either an EVE Movie, and EVE Mini Series or some show based on the EVE Universe. Wish full thinking maybe. But I think it be interesting, here from a guy that grew up watching Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica the old one, Buck Rogers, lost in Space, Land of the Giants. You kinda wonder given what I grew up watching, EVE would already appeal to me, they were all about Space. There are many more potential players out there that EVE has never reached for whatever the reason.

      I like to think at times I understand why i play EVE, the thing is the reasons shift back and forth on any given day as to the various why. At the end of the day though one clear reason is as much as I may have some gripes with CCP, at the end of the day I still love CCP. CCP reminds me of a renegade company and I like those, they willing to do something different. When all the companies are swimming down stream, CCP is the rare one at times willing to turn up river and willing to go agains the stream. That oddity to me plays in part of the reason they have me as a long term customer with their games.

      EVE is Evil, I can agree. She is also a Evil Seductive Mistress.

      EVE in the end to me still reminds me that EVE is still a vision of what it trully can be, still very much hoping it can really ever get there.

      • Thanks! I totally agree, EVE is the richest ground for movie IP, not because it has the best backstory but because it is written by us. I hate to brag (actually, no, I love bragging) but my little venture into fiction would make an awesome movie. Or Mme Thalys’s stories, man that would make a series.

        The problem with all this is the weird design of pods and ships, its a game mechanic that from the narrative gets in the way. Even Clear Skies forwent this concept for the better and more approachable story of ordinary humans doing extraordinary things. The creator had to make a Frankenstein-hybrid with Half Life 2, I think since EVE does not have an environment that allows character movement.

        I do believe that shutting down Incarna and WiS was the biggest marketing mistake that CCP could have possibly done and I blame the bitter vets for their sensationalist, blood in the water “rage against the machine” for that. CCP tried and failed to deliver an expansion – that is bad enough. But they forever burned the bridge to real characters and therefore to failed to attract movies like the one you discussed as well as customers who can’t bond with spaceships. My wife looked over my shoulder one day when I was about to engage a hauler. She commented that she liked “the other game” I used to play (“World of Warcraft”) better = she associated my character (a Dwarf) with the action. Once CCP gets their collective crap together and stops listening to their brainless trolls in Jita, we may just end up with a game where you are represented by an avatar that flies a ship, not a ship that is flown by, err, somebody.

        Comments?

      • This should be a response to Splatus, but there’s no Reply button in his post. 😛

        As long as the WiS is only an optional bonus and there’s no real downside not doing it and possible to disable as the captain’s quarters now, I’m not against it… And as long as it does not take away too much manpower from doing much more needed improvements and fixes… If I want to take a stroll in some fancy (or not so fancy) corridors, I just log into WoW or Tera or whatever MMO of that type.

        • Thanks Thf – thats exactly my point. Good technology companies don’t listen to their customers. If they did, they would never develop a really good, new product. Visionary products do not come from focus groups. CCP can fix spaceships until they are out of resources. While it may (?) satisfy the 500k of current geekoids and current players. It will not give them a 10x in subscriptions. WiS may have lost them a 100k bitter vets but gained them millions in new players. Henry Ford is rumored to have said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

  1. James_315 is just another “if you’re not playing it my way, you’re playing it wrong” type person. I actually respected his inquisition on high sec miners and all the followers he’s accumulated. I always appreciate a good business plan that’s original and breathes new life into Eve. After reading his article I was a little disappointed in his “my way or the highway” attitude. It lumps him in with all the others who hate people who prefer high sec.

    • Yeah, I just read his scorched earth platform for high-sec. It reads to me like the platform of a troll who accidentally was taken seriously and now is now trying to make it sound legitimate. The Green Party in Germany had the same history. They were demonstrating against “X” (every week a new “X” so that the grunts don’t get bored) and found themselves voted into power. They found out pretty quickly that you can’t evoke real societal change with a raised fist and a banner.

      James_315 is bringing a negativity to the game that isn’t required and desired. Nerf this, nerf that is just tiring. Someone like Hans Jaegerblitzen, TwoStep and Trebor brought a positive attitude to the game, a real platform how to improve it and make it future proof. I don’t know any of the new candidates other than Trebor, Rock Weiler and Rippard and while I have not decided who to vote for, it will be someone with tangible ideas and credibility to improve the game. Not some lazy ganker gone political.

  2. You’re underestimating the WoW playerbase… They spend the same time with their chosen game than EVE players, just because they lack out-of-the-game meta, they have to spend it in-game. And actually, only the in-game spent time is used for any statistics. (based on what I last heard about them about one expansion ago)

    As for James… If there would be noone else to vote for, I’d rather stay away from voting… His bumping campaign was kind of interesting and original. But now they gank as the goons and everyone else did during Hulkageddon… We almost had a personal experience with my bro.
    Unfortunately I don’t know the candidates too, but my vote will go to Ripard. At least I can bet he will do what he promises… To improve the CSM->player communication.

    • Yeah, you are right about Ripard – my reason for this is slightly different and I’ll likely write an endorsement post here – not that it matters too much in the greater scheme of things but I can dream, can I not?

      What I found intriguing is the sheer number of WH candidates. Is that because TwoStep was visibly a WH candidate, stepping down now would leave a void, whereas Hans steps down with a system fixed?

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