Space Bushido. Its why I log in

EVE Online used to have two distinct reputations: a) its a spreadsheet game played by the hyper nerdy, basically those who are so socially inept that their D&D group threw them out and b) total and complete immoral bastards who plan for years how to stab their best friend in the back.  Like all stereotypes, these are vastly exaggerated but have a kernel of truth: EVE is complicated and driven by numbers and mechanic lets you be a total asshat as long as you can deal with the in-game consequences.  The same mechanic that lets you be a dick also lets you (and the group you fly in) actively reject being dicks.  There are pragmatic reasons behind not being a dick, especially in smaller wormhole outfits.  By nature of the wormhole mechanic, we run into each other all the time and getting a bad reputation is a recipe for an eviction.  On the other hand, being true to one’s word allows rapid, temporary coalitions to form to help in a defense situation or when fun demands it.

The video that my corp-mate Seraphessael recently posted shows off the bizarre nerdiness that EVE is and the honor code that our small world lives by. See, in the video,  Seraphessael chose to show the entire engagement, not just the juicy combat parts. That’s a little unusual but I personally love it, it really shows so much more how a team functions than just the choice parts where missiles are in the air (well, vacuum, whatever).

So, first, full disclosure.  I came into this really late, I had had the audacity to eat dinner while the corporation had been “rolling for content”  and I only logged in when the ping went out.

In wormhole space, you push enough heavy ships through a wormhole, it eventually dies and a new one spawns soon after.  The mass-calculation, the fleet coordination, the fits of the various “rollers” are finely tuned and a good corporation can crush a hole within a few minutes, scan down the new one and have scouts in there to search for targets.  Its entirely routine and in Seraphessael’s video, the first 2:14 minutes show the team in rolling action, coms are relaxed and people goof around.  However, when the scout finds a mining fleet with their pants down, the tone and content changes dramatically.  I love this inflection point because in good corporations, within seconds a PvP fleet forms, pings are sent and everyone gets down to business. Unlike Nullsec, its not always organized, there are no real FC’s but the roles are flexible.  Much, much hangs on the scout – whoever it is at this time.  A second experienced person quarterbacks the fight relying on the word of his scout and the competency of his team to execute.  In the video, shooting starts at 4:48, basically 2:30 minutes after the target was first seen.

The fight itself was short and brutal, it could have ended either way since nobody (not our target, not us) had any idea what they were really up against.  We won – this time – but next time we may be the victim.  In this light, notice the call not to loot the field, keep the very expensive mining drones on-field and basically not be dicks.  We had what we wanted (kills), now was the time to display our honor code.

Of course, we could have spammed /local with taunts.  Instead we typed “gf” and nothing else.  We could have looted everything denying our target valuable assets.  Instead we chose to leave the field unlooted.  We could have podded everyone, laughed about them on /r/eve, sent meme-gifs and basically be dicks.  Instead, we chose not to any of these things because it goes against our “bushido” and dishonor would have been worse than defeat.

And here the video:

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CCP has been acquired. This is a good thing

The Icelandic developer and publisher of EVE Online has been acquired by the Korean game firm Pearl Abyss, best known for the MMO “Black Desert Online”.  My first reaction to this news was “finally”, my second reaction “who”?

So, CCP has been on the block for many years.  Privately invested companies are generally not designed to stay for decades, they go public, go under or get bought.  Launching an IPO for CCP was always a thing but with the abysmal record of CCP to launch anything other than EVE online, the company had established itself as a one-trick-pony.   One trick pony with ambition and vision but, well, one trick.  A strong, adult partner was always needed and the rumors had been EA, Viacom Activision Blizzard (edit: thanks Wilhelm, corrected) (owns Blizzard) and others.  CCP never had worthwhile marketing, flubbed on the very most basic money-making schemes (monocle gate, swag store, fan fiction…) and literally markets itself only to existing players.  Successfully, sure but CCP was running out of gas.  No console, no mobile platform, no “quick” game play mechanic, ageing infrastructure, decades old pull-down menu interfaces and much more betrays CCP as running way, way behind their times.  Every other company would have gone bust but the nature of EVE and our loyal fans kept it afloat.  Afloat.  Not more.  This was never enough.  I had hoped for an acquisition for years as it would bring a decision: either death by incompetence and greed to a massive marketing and structural shot in the arm.  Choose one but stop the slow coasting.

I know nothing of Pearl Abyss other than they are based in Korea and launched yet another WoW clone called Black Desert Online.  Apparently its successful in Asia but this is where my knowledge stops.  But the $425 mil sounded pretty high until I remembered an article from last year analyzing CCP’s 2016 cash flow position.  CCP had a record revenue of $86 mil, which makes brings us into the very comfortable 5x multiple.  In fact, it appears low for a tech platform buyout but I am sure, CCP’s investors are glad to have this done and over with.

Now what. My corp slack chatter is a mix of “omg, sky is falling, EVE is dying” to “wait and see” and “weee!!!”.  I personally offered a ISK 100mil bet that we have more EVE subscribers next year than today.  100mil is a lot for me, so don’t belittle that.  I have reasons to be optimistic:

  • With a 5x multiple, Pearl Abyss banks that it generates at least the acquisition costs back in 5 years plus transaction fees, inflation, blah, blah.  Lets call it 6 years.  Stripping the company of its assets and relocating a few engineers will sink EVE (and hence CCP) and reduce the investment to zero.  I have been in buyouts just like that and am not saying its an impossible scenario but I am saying its unlikely.  Based on my personal experience, above $100mil transactions, professionals are involved.
  • EVE has a proven, reasonably stable platform (really large battles and log in issues aside) and a loyal, very stress-resistant playerbase.  There also is no alternative game.  Star Citizen is nowhere and while No Man’s Sky has become MUCH better, its not a replacement for EVE.  No, there literally is nowhere to go other than the next PubG / Fortnite / Escape from Somewhere clone.
  • Pearl Abyss knows the Korean market better than CCP.  I bet their first action is to properly translate the EVE client and market the living daylight out of the game in Korea.  EVE doesn’t have “shards”.  Any, really any marketing effort will be seen instantly in log in numbers (and revenue) and without much infrastructure investment. I.e. its a marketers dream.  Spend marketing dollars and receive bacon.  Ridiculously easy.  Make a swag store, hire @RixxJavix for it and blow the roof off, revenue-wise.
  • In general, Korean markets are run entirely separately from other Asian markets but I assume that Pearl Abyss knows how to sell in Japan and maybe even China.   CCP’s relationship with its Chinese distributor have been strained for many reasons.  If (my hypothesis) Pearl Abyss has good relationships with “person-in-charge” in China, they could double the revenue nearly overnight.
  • Lastly, why does Pearl Abyss buy CCP?  Not for some outdated spaceship game.  Not because CCP is a channel to market, has mobile or cross-platform experience.  No, its because there is no game company that can stage massive, multiple thousand player interactions.  We may complain about TiDi in a 1000v1000 encounter.  Any other game would bluescreen and die.  EVE is the only major title that allows this and this is the core of CCP’s IP.  Replace spaceships with horses or dragons, replace drones with pets, replace lasers with spells, it doesn’t matter.  CCP knows how to manage massive encounters like this.  I am super excited about this as it has the potential for an entirely new class of MMO, where gigantic, multi-day battles rage across virtual cities, landscapes and skies.

Yes yes, eventually EVE will die, really die, we all know this is inevitable.  But my bet is: not for 5-7 years (until cash is recouped) and then its replaced by something massive thats worth waiting and giving up EVE for.

And I have – so far – ISK 200mil 300 mil riding on it.  Go Pearl Abyss, make me rich.

 

Edit: More worthwhile reading about this

Pretty Explosions

Just what the title said.  Things in EVE are very pretty. Especially when they go “boom”.

Backstory: someone in my corp had found these structures vulnerable and organized a fleet to finish them.  We were in Sleipnirs and related boats and made short work of it. What was surprising (to me at least) was the sheer quantity of stuff that dropped.  I mean, freighters worth of PI material, ships of every class and fitting, ore, blueprints.  Since there was no opposition, one can just assume the entire corp left EVE or – much more likely – realized that mining in Delve is safer than HighSec or Wormholes and just wrote off the entire hole… Either way, fun night for us…

Athanor

Astrahus

Social Media as business model – free advice to CCP

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook graciously flew into Washington DC to visit a retirement home for ageing white men and explain to the residents how the interwebs works.  This was nice of Mark and he did a good job; those he couldn’t convince that Facebook is on the same level of social responsibility as Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama he will just have to buy later.  No, all booster-seat and water-sipping memes aside, his lecture was a total success and he must have left satisfied that his usual routine of apologies and vague promises of “transparency” will stall regulation of his empire industry for at least one more election cycle.  As his only concession, it is assumed that Facebook will offer some form of premium service where the consumer pays directly in exchange for data privacy.  For the company, this would be a great boon since they would receive this direct revenue in addition to revenue generated by selling the data on.  If found out, they would just send their CEO to DC again to apologize / bribe; a pretty good return of investment.

But we are here not to talk about Facebook but EVE Online, the only surviving Multiplayer Game where interactions between players actually matter.  EVE is made by the Icelandic firm “CCP” which has successfully built a company without any marketing whatsoever relying on their tribal customers to acquire more and more accounts. CCP has used the revenue to launch incredibly successful games like FPS, VR games and Vampire MMOs but fundamentally relies on generating revenue from its EVE players to sustain its business.  Unfortunately however, there are fewer and fewer players, even when we purchase more and more accounts.  The likely end-game for EVE are 4 US-players with questionable personal hygiene using their 30k accounts each to battle a Sino/Russian bot alliance flying weaponized Rorquals.  As long as CCP gets paid for accounts and not players, this is financially reasonable but as a social medial platform not satisfying.   Reddit’s /r/eve might dry out and of course that is where EVE is really played. Continue reading

Salt

As both of my readers know, I don’t play EVE to actively upset or annoy other players.  The practice of doing so, deliberately harvesting tears (aka salt) as it is known is abhorrent to me.  The discussion about this is as old as the game itself and I am not going into it.  I said it before, I love EVE for the fact that you can choose to be a total asshole while not being one is also a choice.  Other games simply don’t have the game mechanic to really negatively impact another player.  Please, CCP, never dial that back.

So, whats this all about?  The other day I logged into the game ready for some interaction with my corp mates and look for trouble.  The (really) nice thing about NOMEX is that there are nearly always people online even if not hunting all the time.  Which means if I do what I do best (scout / tackle), I can have the cavalry called in within a few minutes.  And so I go out scouting down a C1 connection, not even bothering bringing my other character as rear guard.  If I find something with my Proteus, I’ll tackle it and my fleet mates will bail me out. Continue reading

If it wasn’t for Real Life…

Edit This just in. A fast/furious little skirmish that started as a rapid gank on a Gila that ran one of the event sites and escalated when our target dropped a Bhaal plus many other things on us.  RIP my little Stratios, you will be missed replaced.  

 

As my last remaining reader knows, I moved to a new corp “Anomalous Existence” and am happy as a clam in this outfit. They are small enough to know all the guys and gals but big enough that stuff goes down all the time.  Unfortunately most of the times when I see a ping, I can’t log in for Real Life reasons.  I don’t mind too  much right now, as long as NOMEX doesn’t kick me out, I am happy where I am. My reduced online time however means that I have to scrap all things EVE extraneous like PvE, reading about EVE and of course blogging. Continue reading

Expectations are met

My last post was about my move to NOMEX and what my expectations were.  I had hoped for a low-class WH PvP-centric corporation with minimal (asymptotically approaching zero) drama and lots of lots pew-pew.  I am delighted to report that all my expectations were met.  Just a look at yesterday’s killboard and you get a feeling that this is a corporation that’s going out and shoots “all the things”. Continue reading