Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise
Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"
Its summer. Player activity dips so let's cue the "Eve is dying!" mantra along with similar tidings of doom. Situation normal then. Every year is the same. Except it isn't. CCP is approaching a fourth year of refreshing selected parts of Eve. The result? Active player count is the same or less than this time last year. Oh and last year was bad. Whoops. Neville Smit provides a decent analysis on his blog using the data from Eve Offline (see below).
The first thing to take away from this is that wars do not have a long term impact on player activity. The heightened activity caused by World War Bee has now vanished. They came, they pressed F1 and they left. We can now confidently say that the myth that Eve needs big wars to attract players is busted. While big wars don't harm the stats, those players will bugger off as soon as they have had their adrenaline fix or got over their mid life crisis.
And that is a bit awkward, because for the last three years CCP have focused their development almost exclusively on these players and there is at least another year of this to come. A year that will be wasted in my opinion. It is not as if industrial structures are going more defensible than citadels. Great for the wrecking machine posse but why ever build one in the first place? Then there is null. Null is as empty as it ever was despite the introduction of magic wands and rejigged super capitals. Even World War Bee was largely based from lowsec. The changes have failed.
So remove the War boom and what are you left with? A continuing underlying decline in player activity.
And this takes us into the realm of unintended consequences. While the game changes have been targeted to (unsuccessfully) benefit a few, their wider impact has been make the neglected state of the rest of the game worse. The ramifications of the citadel markets are a case in point. The markets are now a shambles and trade is down 40% on last month. Crest endpoints are broken and have rendered sites like Eve Central as largely useless. Player attempts to mitigate the regressive tax that purposely punishes the financially weakest players most has lead to offshoring and ghost orders (until recently) which has in turn turned Jita into a husk filled largely with remote orders. It is dev sponsored vandalism without doubt, but it benefits nobody apart from a very few Fortizar owners.
The effects go beyond Jita. I logged into Hek a couple of times last week. There were between 60 to 80 people in the system. In the recent past you would have expected double or even triple that. From what remains of the market it is clear its days as a viable trading hub are numbered. Even the scammers seem to have given up and rats do know when to leave a sinking ship. I've heard its the same for Rens too. It follows that the networks and activities that have built up around these hubs will join the fall into irrelevance as a result of the new economic order.
All this is to satisfy CCP's myopic neoliberal design dogma that insists High Sec must be outsourced to a few absentee landlords. The alternative being punitively taxed if failing to comply with the ideology. It is a strategy that has failed in the real world and it is a strategy that is failing in Eve. The big irony being that Iceland was one of the first countries to realise it after they got badly burnt. This is just the Citadel fiasco.
There are plenty of other examples to choose from but lets move on because I am sure you don't want me droning on about Skill Points, the CSM, Null Sec statics, etc, etc ad infinitum.
So this is the malaise. Eve has a long term dedicated player-base that CCP largely ignores. It also has a short term fly by night vocal player base that CCP are keen to overindulge regardless of the impact on the rest. Consequently the long term player base continues to haemorrhage away and new players find it hard to gain a strong enough foothold to cut through the cliquishness. Try forming a corp in highsec as a new player.
This isn't news. It is how any number of generic games have died and will die in the future. CCP seem determined to follow that script, or more likely as the vacuous Fanfest Keynote demonstrated, they no longer have the gumption when it comes to either the vision, awareness, capability or capacity needed to do anything about it. So Eve is dying. The debate is really about whether it will be a gentle descent or if numbers will fall off the side of a cliff at some point. CCP's future decisions or lack of them will determine the rate of decline. So if Eve was a horse... well go figure.