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

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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

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

Immortality

Lets face it, all SciFi boils down to the eternal question of “what if”. What if we could ascend to the stars, what if we had unlimited energy, what if our ability to shape our environment was only limited by our imagination? What if we were immortal?

We all recognize these themes from countless SciFi novels and movies, they make us dream of the possibilities that would open up if when the starting conditions change.  The starting conditions being our current existence, of course.  That’s what makes gives it the “Fi”.  However, as a formally trained scientist, I always ask the “Sci” when I watch a movie or read a novel.  “How” can we beat this pesky “FTL” issue. How can we harness unlimited energy to benefit us all?

Over time, I came to a rather sobering realization, namely that there is one constant in these thoughts: immortality.  Yes, eternal life, a literal fountain of youth.  This is the ultimate goal of all human endeavor but it isn’t limited to humans, we are just the only ones who are self aware of it (as far as we know).  The quest for immortality is the literal essence of life, sustaining its own self while striving for propagation which is nothing but copying of self with improvements where possible. Continue reading

[MAGA] Make Anoikis Great Again

I recently opinioned on the Wormhole Townhall meeting set up by notable CSM member and Hard Knocks leader Noobman.  My concern was that the meeting itself had gone a very predictable path where individuals from Wormhole PvP alliances desperately tried to out-chest-beat each other while leaving many topics that really affect us all entirely unsaid.  So far, so predictable but my comments and post spawned a ping from a HK line member effectively telling me to speak up or shut up.  Either I make my concerns heard to Noobman / CSM or CCP or I am just another one of those /r/eve whiners.

That man had a point.  While I ran this blog since 2009, I rarely go into the specifics what CCP should do to make the game a better place.  I have no professional game development experience and also can only see a sliver of the game itself.  EVE’s strength and weakness are the same, its massive, differentiated and highly integrated structure where one small tweak here causes a massive effect elsewhere.  However its true that some areas in the game are in a pitiful state and maybe CCP doesn’t see it. Continue reading

WH Townhall – I am content

CSM delegate Noobman and member of the most powerful wormhole alliance in the game kindly organized a townhall to update the wormhole community and ask a few questions.  For my remaining two readers I provide a heavily biased summary below.

The full recording is here, at 2h, its manageable, there is so much repetition and group hugs (circle*** for some) that one can easily fast forward. Actual content maybe 10 minutes.

tl/dr  Townhall meeting (real life or game) give the floor to those who take it and in general those are the ones with the most aggressive agenda.  Extremism will always win in a debate as categorical statements are easier to digest and remember.  There is no fighting it and hence I rarely, if ever participate in these events.  Basically, the townhall confirmed what we all expected, Noobman and his friends in C5/C6 space have nothing to do with the wormhole space that I experience.  Large-fleet, capital supported evictions, dozens of farming holes to make money, PvE as the necessary evil are literally a different game from mine.  My purpose in their world is to be “content”, i.e. I serve the role as dumb prey.  To that end, they want me to live in Wormhole space and throw me a few bones so that it becomes worth it.  And when I get too visible, it should be easy to evict me.  Actually, this is fine by me.  I like gnawing on bones.

Here are some cliffnotes.  Sorry if I missed anything, I tuned out a few times when the echo chamber reverberated too much.  My comments in italics.

  • Apparently, CCP has not forgotten about wormholes and fact many (shitloads) of CCP devs reside in low class wormhole space.  Guess even CCP devs need PI.
  • Noobman asked how the T3C changes had affected wormholers and the audience collectively went into EFT/Pyfa mode, started extolling the virtues of one ship over the other.  Consensus emerged after a few minutes:
    • Proteus, Tengu and Legion are useless.  Loki is the only T3C worth flying.
    • The halving of their tank and an increase in signature and DPS means that their role has changed from heavy tackle with staying power to tackle that needs a serious fleet to bail them out.
    • The whole point that T3Cs are more flexible is irrelevant.  Anyone basing out of a citadel has the ability to re-fit or take a specialized ship.
    • I had always flown a Proteus in “bulldog” mode, holding on to the target and tried to kill it with my other character.  I think these days are over.  I have an active-tank fit with good DPS but it is very sensitive to neuting (and has no cap injector).  I expect to move to Stratios soon. At least I won’t lose SP when it dies.  
  • Scanning changes
    • We like it.  A few glitches but overall its an improvement.  Took CCP 3 (?) fixes but its workable now.
  • Big discussion on spawn times of anomalies and signatures.
    • I was surprised about how much HK and the rest of audience cared about PvE sites but its obvious, each chest-beating PvP player has a private farming hole where they run sites to make money.  
    • The spawn rates of anomalies apparently is “class wide”, i.e. a site only spawns if another dies in a same class Wormhole.  With many, many holes being abandoned and accumulating sites (see my discussion about our C2 when we moved in), active holes are empty.  The audience wanted a timer on each site that a newly spawned site despawns after a few days with a chance to conveniently respawn within the safety of their farming hole. Basically, they want Nullsec mechanics
  • Suggestion that sleeper should scram more so that Player battleships can’t use their microjump drive to escape from PvP.
    • The consensus was its too hard to find idiots like myself to kill.  We are called “content” and we are tolerated in WH space for this purpose only.  It should not be so hard to find, tackle and kill us.    
    • CCP is considering that change to add more scrams into sleeper sites.
  • Drone aggro
    • Apparently there is a bug that sleepers attack Drones more than they should.
    • I have not seen it but if I had seen it I would have assumed that it was a new mechanic.  For C2, I stopped using Gallente drone ships and went back to Caldari since drone micromanagement was just too tedious.  If this had been intentional, I would have not cared.  Sleepers are smarter NPC, so why wouldn’t they shoot at drones?
    • I assume this mechanic eats into the AFK money making of their farming holes so it has to get fixed.
  • Drifters.  They are the Battleship-sized sleepers that infest C5 and C6 space when you kill a structure.  They are hard to kill, persist and attack citadels.  (and can be killed with a citadel).
    • Consensus seemed to be that they should spawn if you have a Capital ship on grid or shooting the structure.  This of course removes them as a game mechanic to teams like ours coming with Battleships from a C4 and kill them because (gasp!) its a fun game mechanic but this is obviously of no importance.  ISK/hour is the only thing that counts
    • The idea behind it is of course that the hardcore PvP-ers want more capital ships flown by incompetent fools in sites where they can be tackled.
  • Industry and moons mining.
    • CCP is thinking about it.  Come back in 2018 maybe.
  • Smaller temporary structures to help evictions.
    • Without POS, eviction teams don’t have a safe space to log off.  This makes evictions too hard and the suggestion was to develop a new structure that has a docking ring or something
    • I personally wanted a smaller structure for temporary wormhole camping trips and if it is making evictions easier, so be it.  If anyone wants to evict me, they can do it anyway so what do I care what they need to bring?  
  • Some conversation on using capital ships, cap chargers, dreads etc.  I lost track what the discussion was about.

 

 

 

2nd Summer of Rage – You reap what you sow

I tend to abstain from EVE drama for the same reason that I abstain from real life politics, it rarely affects me and if so, I can’t do anything about it anyway.  But I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus of screamers, may my two remaining loyal and intelligent readers forgive me. I’ll be quick.

So, background, this week, CCP announced several changes to carrier and Rorqual income generation that collectively aims to reduce income from NPC (carriers) and mining (Rorqs) significantly.  The only relevant forum for EVE players – r/eve is writhing in spastic convulsions, unsubbing en-masse and shooting monuments.  EVE is dying, dead and buried, a decaying corpse, Gevlon was right etc etc. Continue reading