Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM"

In recent months, the relationship between CCP and it's customers has been the subject of some controversy. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management has played a key role in these events, but not for the first time they are finding CCP difficult to deal with. What effect will CCP's recent strategies have on the future of EVE Online and it's player-base? What part can and should the CSM play in shaping that future? How best can EVE Online's continued health and growth be assured?

Well Seismic Stan has opened a can of worms there hasn't he! A few of the graphs floating around this week showing declining PCU numbers are worrying to say the least. A few of the underlying issues as I see them....

CCP Needs Money, but....
They are not a charity, they are a business. They need to make money, they need profit. To do this they need to to do two things. Keep existing customers happy to retain them and attracting new customers. Note the use of the word "customer" as opposed to "players". Many players customers are ranting that WiS is a waste of time and that most people don't want it. That might be the case with the majority of current players customers. However, I recall CCP did some market research a long time ago into why people didn't play Eve. One of the top answers given was that you didn't have a human avatar, just a green pod. This was one of the reasons many people didn't play Eve, and to attract new customers this needed addressing. New customers = good for Eve.
Incarna also had the inclusion of A VANITY ONLY micro-transaction shop (although admittedly CCP failed to look up the word "micro" in the dictionary). This will be (eventually, when we're let out of that pokey room) a good idea in increasing CCP's bank balance. 
OK, so they are two good ideas, but they've done a proper Gerald Ratner in deploying it. However don't forget that the underlying idea is sound. More new players and more money for CCP is good for Eve.
They are also looking to grow the company, again this will help Eve. Dust 514, World of Darkness, are all potential projects to grow the company. However, they are doing this whilst seriously p155ing of their existing player customer base. Not a good idea as if the Eve customer base dies, so does CCP's income and development potential. Neglecting existing customers to win new ones has never, ever, worked as a business model! This leads us nicely onto the next subject.

CCP Needs to Think About Existing Customers as Well as Attracting New Ones.
Whilst I agree with what CCP are doing - trying to grow both the Eve player-base and the company, they are going about it all wrong. Eve-O customers are feeling very neglected. They feel that content delivery is shifted from Eve to DUST and WoD. Whether this is true or not, that is the perception. I myself would be interested to know the numbers of "content creation" type devs that are working on Eve-O now compared to say before DUST and WoD. This goes double for the art department which was highlighted as a bottle-neck in the recent CSM minutes. A lot of the talk about the future of Eve Online is about balancing and mechanics. What CONTENT is there to look forward to. After establishments, I see nothing on the horizon other than tweaks under the hood (which to be fair are really needed, but we need something shiny too to look forward too!).
This neglect, whether perceived or real, is losing CCP customers. I know several from my own corp who have had "enough" with Eve and have quit the game (and they never let me haz their stuffz). Whilst this has always happened since Eve day 1, the number in the last 6-months has intensified substantially.
I think this type of problem can be summed up in three words - Star - Wars - Galaxies. Sony Online Entertainment wanted to attract new customers to their game. They made changes that the existing player-base hated, they ignored that player-base and went ahead with the changes......... and the game died.

CCP Needs to Work on Eve Expansions and Continue to Develop and Work With Them Until.... ooooo look! A puppy!
There appears to be a problem where CCP implement something, get so far and then shoot off at a tangent on another project within Eve. Faction War is a prime example. There is still a lot broken with FW, there are so many improvements that could be made, the back story was progressing nicely, Tibus Heth has miners disease and.... Oooo look! A Puppy! Suddenly we're off to T3 ships, then suddenly it's Farmville in space and then onto pointy ships killing everything in sight and whilst that's going on we're let out of our ships into a box room that melts your graphics card. This has left each previous expansion sulking in the corner like the older sibling when a new baby is born. I'll keep on FW as that is not only an area close to my heart, but I think a great example of the "Oooo look a puppy" syndrome that CCP is currently inflicted with.

CCP Need to Realise Encouragement is Better Than Force.
This sounds like a bloody obvious statement - In the sandbox there are so many different groups. CCP needs to think about how the "tweeks" effect all the different groups. For a start stop this obsession with getting 99.99% of players into Null Sec. Make people want to go there, don't force people there. Nerfing hi-sec every five minutes alienates a large number of your players, a VERY large number I would guess without seeing the percentages by security status. The Sanctum nerf again arsed off a large portion of the player-base and in fact encouraged a lot more players to move away from null-sec to hi-sec. Arsing off your player-base is not a good idea!

CCP Need to Realise There is no Such Thing as an Average Eve Player.
In the best sandbox game out there, people make their own fun. You cannot even group people into boxes like carebear/PvP'er as each of these has such a diverse range of "mini-professions". What sounds amazing for one carebear is "meh" to another and "Noooooooooooooo!" to another.
On Twitter recently serveral forthcoming Dev Blogs were builtup to epic proportions by CCP staff posting how great these blogs were going to be and they were "major" and "awesome".
I read them when they finally came out and I couldn't have given a flying XXXXX. What do I care, as a low-sec pirate, about 0.0 or customisable API keys. Who found these blogs major or awesome? What percentage of the player base?

So how can the CSM help? What needs to be done in Eve? Lets run through.....

Money - 
CCP are on the right track with getting new players in via Incarna and the VANITY ONLY OPTIONAL ITEMS FOR EVER AND EVER AND EVER NeX store. They cocked up the deployment good and proper, but they are getting there. Once we get establishments and we are socialising with other players then may be I'll spend some AUR. But not before, what's the point in a nice pair of boots right now? How can the CSM help here? They cannot. If they back CCP they will be flamed to death, but CCP making money and attracting new players to the game is critical for the future survival of Eve (providing you don't upset the whole existing play-base). CSM, keep out of this one, you cannot win!

Development -
Once a feature is developed, it needs support. Please kill that f****** puppy to reduce distractions. Things like faction war shouldn't be a "stick it in and forget about it". It needs support and continuing development. The CSM should be badgering CCP to fix what is broken and to continue development of existing features and not to just be concentrating on the next expansion every time.
Bug and "issue" fixing should be given a very high priority. Put down that Amarrian bar and look at the faction hit when remote repping a GCC corp mate when in FW for example!

Involving the Players, but Don't Rely on the Forums. The CSM Evolved....?
The CSM, as a sounding board, is way too small for a game like Eve. Also the voting system makes it geared up for large alliances. There needs to be a larger "sounding board" group that is ACTUALLY LISTENED TO by CCP! Multiple representatives are required from each area of the game so that a holistic approach is taken. Break the CSM into 12 heads of section each covering an area of play-style. Below them are 10 "advisers" who have an interest in that area. Think of it like a Government. You have a Secretary of Defence, Secretary of State etc and each of them are backed up by a team of advisers. Why not try and get as many play-styles within Eve into the CSM?
This needs a lot more thought than I'm giving it but something along the lines of the following:-

Empire Carebear
Empire PvP
Empire Corporation and Alliance
Null Carebear
Null PvP
Null Corporation and Alliance
Capital Ships
WH Space
PoS and Stations
Faction War
Trade, Science and Industry

(I use Empire to group high and low sec together).

Now each of those 12, of which one will be the Chair, won that seat in a vote similar to current CSM voting. However, you need to show that you are actively engaged in that area. You want to go for the FW position? Then you should know FW inside out! 

The 10 runners up in each position are now the advisory team for the winner! They don't get to go to Iceland on jollies but they are used as a sounding board/focus group to assist the CSM Representative for that area. By having named positions on the CSM you are getting a more diverse range of players. Imagine the suggestions and enhancements that could be given to Team BFF by that group of 132 players who are each passionate about their area of the game!

Communication -
I think we all agree that communication between CCP and the player-base is poor. Lets have more communication and use the CSM more to get the message across. Keep us up-to-date with current thinking. It's OK to say "That thing we said 2 months ago, we're looked at it and it won't work or would break something else so we're not doing it". But at least get feedback from the players, don't go hurtling down one route and find you've really misjudged the feelings of the players.

CCP PLEASE listen to the players. I know 95% act like angry kids and the forums are full of flame, hate and trolling.... but in that mess there are a few real players who are trying to help you create the game we all want to play.

Nobody wants Eve Online to be the next Star Wars Galaxies. Please, please, please CCP, don't do a SOE!

Other Banters already up -

Seleene's Sandbox - Reality Check*

Jacabon Mere @ Dying in Lowsec (One Hauler at a Time) - The Future of EVE (Blog Banter 28)

Evehermit's Blog - Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM."

Suicidal Pancake @ Horizon's Edge - Blog Banter 28: The Clock is ticking...

Blastradius1 @ Blastrad Tales - (BB28) Consultant

Tgl3 @ Through Newb Eyes - Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM."

Shadai @ Sleepless in Space - Sticks and Shenanigans (Blog Banter #28)

Kirith Kodachi @ Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - I Was There - Blog Banter

Drackarn @ Sand, Cider and Spaceships - Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM."

Rixx Javix @ Eveoganda - Blog Banter #28: Space, the Final Frontier

S.W. @ Confessions of a Closet Carebear - Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM."

Cozmik R5 @ Beyond Space - Blog Banter #28: Here's My Coffee CCP

The Silent Bleat - Is EVE dying? & The CSM

Trebor Daehdoow @ Confessions of a Starship Politician - Behind the Power Curve and into the Coffin Corner**

Sessym @ Rants from New Eden - Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM."

Kuan Yida @ Random Posts from Auga - ooc: Blog Banter

Lex Starwalker @ EVE A to Z - Blog Banter Resurrection: the Future of EVE

No comments:

Post a Comment