Last Friday CCP announced Andie Nordgren, known to EVE Online players as CCP Seagull, was promoted from Senior Producer to Executive Producer of EVE Online. Congratulations CCP Seagull! I can’t think of any current CCP employee more deserving of this opportunity than you.
CCP Seagull immediately reached out to the EVE Online community with her own dev post on the promotion. She also did a reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on the promotion. She said all the right things and didn’t say all the right things. If you don’t get that sentence, it’s okay. You really don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. Let’s just summarize by saying CCP is CCP is always CCP. They are no different from the company I work for. Obfuscation is an art form after all.
But seriously, EVE Online is at a critical juncture. It’s an old game, and after playing it for over six years it feels old. I haven’t logged in to do anything but update training for weeks. In fact, I’ve made a conscious decision to do other things for the rest of the year. I’m not going to unsubscribe, but I am consolidating. My son no longer has time to play and I’ve decided to move his account to Mabrick’s account (I’ve been paying for it all along so technically it’s mine.) And as I don’t really give a rats ass any more, I’ll confirm what many already suspect. The current CEO of Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing is my alt. Kao Jai has never been an active character. He was just there to keep my company running.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Until the gutting of high-sec PI by turning it over to the tender mercies of the players, he earned me about a half billion ISK a month doing PI. But high-sec PI was ruined for me and a lot of other players when it was given to the gods of player driven content to ruin. Since then he’s just been an extra expense. I’ve decided to consolidate that account onto Mabrick as well. These were the gaming account changes I mentioned in my Post QuakeCon Summary post. I’d rather give that money to TESO at the moment.
I’m not the only long time EVE Online player who’s taking an extended break. Probably the biggest bomb recently announced was Jester telling everyone he was moving on. Many have had an incredible upswing in RL workload as the world economy continues to recover so are on hiatus. Other’s have claimed summer as the reason they log on less. That is at least what they claim. I could claim that, but I won’t. I’m going to be honest about it. The truth is I’m tired of the same old static universe where the community is great but the game frankly sucks. Been there, done that doesn’t even begin to cover it. My one attempt at joining into the al mighty alliance level game left such a bad taste in my mouth I’d rather than eat shit than repeat it. Was that too strong? Get over it.
Let’s not lose sight of the key fact here folks: EVE Online is a computer game, not Facebook. Though there are social components to all MMOs, they must first and foremost be a fun game to play. EVE Online stopped being fun for me some time back, and it took months for me to admit that fact. And it wasn’t because I was “so loyal” to CCP. It was because I had such cool friends in that space I didn’t want to let them go.
But guess what. I don’t have to let them go if I walk away from EVE Online. THAT is what Facebook is all about. And I’ve stayed in touch through that medium – as it should be. There are others I’d still like to connect with outside EVE Online, but it’s really up to them. Everything I put on Facebook is public and anyone can read anything. I don’t put it on Facebook if it can’t be public. I’m also not that hard to find since I’ve connected my blogging and my social media accounts. Just follow the links. So, if you want, throw me a friend request.
But enough of this digression. This is a post about EVE Online and the tribulations it currently faces. That’s a steady loss of accounts. For a long time it’s been common knowledge that EVE Online may have 500,000 subscribers, but many of those are alts. Some would say most – I know I would. And after years of looking at the concurrent numbers graph, I’ve come to the conclusion that drops in concurrent logins look a lot like alt consolidation – though I am sure there are a few unsubscribes as well. That’s a big problem for CCP, because that’s what I’m getting ready to do. I’m cutting my monthly spend on EVE Online to a third of my pre-doldrum spend. If the entire player base did that, CCP would see their revenue plummet, and no one would notice because the same number of people still make up the community. Nevertheless, CCP would feel it where it hurts them the most. It’s always been the weakest link in their chainmail.
How does this relate to CCP Seagull’s new promotion? Well, the way I see it – and I’m thinking CCP Seagull must see it this way too – the only way to revitalize EVE Online is to create a different game. No, I’m not talking about EVE: Valkyrie or EVE: Legion. EVE Online itself has to be reinvented. It has to become a new universe with new challenges and new successes that everyone can attain – not just the rich and powerful. To do that there is a lot of old code that has to be ripped out and replaced. Game play must be reworked. CCP Seagull hints at this in the AMA when she wrote, “We are hands-off when it comes to the specific interaction between players, but certainly not hands-off when it comes to designing how the game works.” To get new blood into the game, new players must be given a road to success, and I hope this statement means CCP Seagull understands this. It could just be wishful thinking on my part. Only time will tell. But more on the point of making EVE Online into a new game, she also wrote during the AMA, ” the world should be a living, thriving backdrop – not something that never changes and just waits for player action.” Yes, she said that. And it was the best damn thing I’ve seen written by anyone at CCP for a very long time. It gives me hope that CCP will once again be a real game designer and not just a company resting on the laurels of their success hoping the gamers will do what’s best for them. I think at this point most see that handing the house keys to the teenagers for the weekend, while admonishing them not to have a kegger, has never worked.
So Mabrick will remain active, but I doubt he’ll log on to do anything other than update the training queue for his clone until CCP Seagull is done reinventing EVE Online. If that happens, I’ll return and have a look around. Industry will be practically new to me, and I’m actually looking forward to that, but there are other more meaningful changes that also have to occur. Hopefully there will be many other new things, and EVE Online will be like it was to me in March of 2008 when I undocked from Cistuvaert and said to my monitor, “Oh my god.” The universe was completely open to me then. There was nothing I couldn’t do, and no one to stop me. You see, back then I didn’t have to own all the POCOs, or pay extortionists to mine, or worry about market manipulations rendering my goods valueless. No one said I had to join a group or die; provide content for others or lump it. I just had to avoid can flippers, and that was a whole lot more fun.