CCP Faces Longevity Concerns from its Playerbase

CCP is no stranger to drama and scandal.  While issues such as Monoclegate and the rollout of the Incarna release have been the most recent, it is generally accepted by the Eve Community that CCP has communication issues.  Unfortunately, the most recent problems have occured based on that very same problem. 

A relatively minor activity, the releasing of the minutes from the Eve Summits has now become a major hotbed of contention.  You see, according to the CSM and CCP, the summit meeting minutes are to be released to the greater Eve Community in a timely manner.  In the past, this was a simple activity where the CSM would write up the minutes, pass them up to CCP, then CCP would say, “Yep, that’s what happened.”  At the most, CCP would addition some more bits and pieces to round out what happened.

This time however, CCP seems to have decided to dramatically re-write the notes that were taken, and the CSM was rather upset because their notes returned to them highly edited.  In a normal scenario, fault could probably be laid at both the CSM and CCP’s feet.  However the person who made the notes, Trebor Deahdoow, has been doing this for both CSM6 and CSM5 so he should know the process rather well.  Recent leaks from CCP also have made it difficult to believe that CCP is making these changes for the betterment of the Eve Community. 

Unfortunately, there has been no word from CCP.. and the fires of discontent have now begun to inflame a new, major wildfire.

The CSM Chairman has begun to wage a media campaign against CCP, specifically the higher management at CCP, demanding that they refocus their efforts back onto Eve Online.  Problems with the game client, Incarna, ship balance, and major game features like Null-sec, Faction Warfare, even Mining not having necessary updates or changes, and it has started to wear on the Eve playerbase.  A few Devblogs that were released seemed to indicate that CCP was on the right track, but with continued delays in the minutes, the playerbase is getting worried that its concerns were, in fact, ignored by a CCP Management team more concerned with their new projects like DUST and World of Darkness.

One of the more commonly pushed facts is that the subscription base has not increased with the release of Incarna, as documented by one of the more famous Eve Bloggers, Ripard Tag.  His blog, Jester’s Trek, detailed a flat lined subscription increase.  While many players consider Incarna to be an enhancement, the lack of an influx of new players and re-subbing players seems to give creedance to the claims that CCP has stopped focusing on the core gameplay of Eve Online.  Additionally, there has been no major updates involving the “Flying In Space” aspect of Eve Online (except for Wormholes) for nearly two years.

Here is the CSM Chairman declaration:

I seem to have underestimated the scope of my newfound (and, let’s be honest, utterly ridiculous) e-celebrity. My CEO Update was intended to prepare this alliance for the release, in about a week, of a formal spotlight from the CSM on the topic of “FiS Neglect”; based on my experiences in the past, I assumed that if I wanted the gaming media to pay attention to what Some Guy Who Runs A Space Guild says about a niche MMO from a country surrounded by fart-water, I’d have to call in some favors and/or suck some dicks, as well as have the alliance ready to seize Slashdot/Digg/Reddit to even get the time of day from sites like PC Gamer or RPS.

Oops.

Without prompting, Eurogamer picked up the CEO Update, and then a viral media cycle kicked in – one site covered an issue and got a bunch of hits, which means every other site wanted to cover the CEO Update, and next thing you know we’re in full drama mode. Rock Paper Shotgun, The Edge, Eurogamer, Gamespy, PC Gamer, Tentonhammer. I expected some in CCP to see the Update as a shot across the bow – but I expected them to hear about it on Kugu and have a chance to privately make some concessions before the CSM Spotlight came out. Instead, the media’s attention means that we have launched a broadside into CCP seemingly out of nowhere, and everyone who has similar views about the downward course of EVE has looked upon what we did, judged it Good, and unloaded on CCP as well.

The reason that this situation has escalated so rapidly is twofold. One, the chart that Jester drew up (the now-infamous PCU graph used in my update) illustrates something we have felt for some time with an icy clarity. Two, after the foolishness of the Incarna launch and Monoclegate, the media was eager to report on what has become a ‘story arc’ of sorts. The narrative plays well – “plucky players stand up to a corporation to prevent a Sony/NGE disaster”. In an industry plagued with Bobby Koticks, I suspect the average gaming reporter gets a kick out of the CSM/CCP conflicts.

So, here we stand, surrounded by a torrent of unplanned media attention. We can back off and let the dust settle, or we can increase the pressure on the suits to ensure that Flying In Space is once again something worth playing. If CCP chooses to be vindictive towards GSF or the CSM because we have dared to speak out against the neglect of spaceships in this spaceship game, we have already provided them with ample cause. After all, who would believe that this perfect storm of media coverage was an accident, not some conspiracy? I wouldn’t believe it, even though it is actually the case. We must twist the knife. Now that we have found CCP’s Achilles Heel, we must achieve some kind of victory for the players.

Great, I don’t run a gaming news site. How can I help prevent CCP alpha-testing World of Darkness in EVE?

You can do two things to help save EVE. First, and crucially, you can ensure that the truth gets out on the main Eve Online forums, which were recently converted to a new system that allows both rapid posting (no more 2 minute timer, thank god) and +rep. As a bonus, this involves tearing a cadre of fanatical pubbies into tiny strips of flesh. It seems that there are a few very vocal badposters who believe that the problem of FiS Neglect is literally a ~goon conspiracy~, and that everything would just be peachy in Eve Online if CCP just buffed hisec missions (again).

We do not want to spam or obliterate the Eve-O forums; instead we must take stern control of the narrative there to ensure that the badposters in that cesspit are not heeded by anyone of consequence.

Secondly, generate hits on media stories covering the FiS Neglect crisis. The gaming media functions on a shoestring budget and is desperate for traffic; we have learned since 2007 that the best way to get the media to pay heed is to give them the traffic they are so desperate for, rather than spamming forums indiscriminately and hoping someone deigns to write about the cacophony. A profit-driven scalpel is needed, rather than a sledgehammer. (I have a suspicion that being on the inside at TTH has taught me some useful methods to leverage gaming coverage, but we’ll see if this works. No guarantees.) You can generate hits by linking articles that cover topics we favor on social media, or you could simply comment on their articles and provoke discussions.

The blogging community has also taken up the charge, with a “Blog Banter” discussion that most of the blogging community has made mention of (Blog Banter is a question or set of questions given to the Eve Blogging Community to write about.  For more information, please go to: Freebooted).  The question proposed was the following:

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?

The questions have produced a flurry of responses, most of them negative towards CCP.  Many echo the belief that CCP has not put any focus on its only game.  Probably the most celebrated responses relating to this was Trebor’s, which was found here: http://treborofthecsm.blogspot.com/2011/09/behind-power-curve-and-into-coffin.html and Seleene’s, another CSM member, found here: http://seleenes-sandbox.blogspot.com/2011/09/reality-check.html.  Another post at EveNews24 from the CSM Chairman, the Mittani, also is an important read in this discussion: http://www.evenews24.com/2011/09/06/the-united-states-of-the-eve-interview-with-csm-chairman-the-mittani/

CCP has already let nearly two weeks go by without responding to the allegations.  The problem CCP now has is that the one group CCP needs to have in their corner, the one group that can help them not have this ending up being another major PR nightmare, is actively campaigning against them.. publicly.  As CCP has been notorious for its bad communication, all players wondering in the back of their mind..

“Is this the beginning of the end of Eve Online?”

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One comment

  1. 1

    I’ve been playing Eve for a bit over 3 1/2 years. What I like to do is run missions and make isk to buy shiny new fancy ships to run more missions in. This may not seem like much to many people but I get to socialize with members of whatever corporation I’m in at the same time and this to me is FUN. Things started to go downhill gor me with the Tyrannis expansion and the nerfing of mission loot. Now I have the useless to me ability to walk around in a station while interacting with nobody or anything and the chance to buy pretty clothes that have to no use to me whatsoever. I cancelled my subscription, which is paid for until Oct. 22. I’d been toying with the idea of continuing to play using PLEX but the more I think about it the more I figure it’s probably not worth it with Eve in it’s current state.

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