For most of us old EVE players, the metaverse of the game is as important as the game itself. EVE would be nothing without the player-generated stories of evictions, slander, theft and good deeds, we have become a famed community not despite EVE itself is such a buggy work in progress but because of it. And while blogs and news aggregators used to be our watering holes (EVE Forums have always been limited to new players who just didn’t know any better), the shift to r/eve is nearly complete.
In December, it is customary among bloggers to recap the year and I nearly didn’t make it which is in itself indicative of my state of mind. EVE and blogging are simply not as much in my thoughts as it used to be. There are a few obvious reasons that have (almost) nothing to do with the game itself and I’ll get into it.
As my last remaining loyal reader (hi Mum!) may recall, I bounced around in EVE but always come back to Wormhole Space (aka Anoikis). To me, the uncertainty of connections, resources and enemies, the excitement of working in small, highly skilled teams and the slow, cat-like scouting sessions are the most thrilling aspects of the game. Wormholers in EVE are a little bit “different”, we used to have a fearsome but also slightly weird reputation. I mean, who is nuts enough to stalk an enemy for weeks in order to get a single drop on a site running fleet? We do. Oh yes, we do. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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