Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CCP's War On Bots: Peak Concurrent Users - 1 May 2011 to 5 June 2011

I believe we are reaching a point in time that looking at the peak concurrent user numbers are not telling us much about CCP's War On Bots™.  Not only is the launch of Incarna just a few weeks away, but CCP has begun a campaign to draw more users back into the game.  But the figures still show some interesting things.

My first graph is a 7-day rolling average of peak concurrent users covering 5 weeks, from Sunday, 1 May 2011 to Sunday, 5 June 2011.

7-Day Rolling Average

I changed my methodology since my previous post looking at PCU numbers.  I have switched from the numbers from Eve-Offline's 90 day chart to the 30 day chart.  As a result of the greater granularity of the data, the PCU figures are about 1000 - 3000 users higher than I previously reported.

From 1 May to 12 May, the numbers continued a downward spiral, fueled I believe by aggressive actions against OCR bots by CCP Sreegs' security team.  At that point I believe that a bunch of botters who had been banned for 30 days on and around 10 April were allowed back into the game which accounts for the rise in CPU.

Sunday Peak Concurrent Users

The graph of peak concurrent users on Sundays, the busiest days in Eve Online, definitely show the effects of the banhammer.  The numbers for the 3 weeks from 24 April to 8 May are way down from previous weeks.  As I expected, the numbers were back up on 15 May.

Following this, though, the numbers become hazy.  On 21 May, CCP began a program of rewarding players who recruit new players through the Buddy Program with PLEX.  Following the announcement, although the PCU numbers remained steady on Sundays, the 7-day rolling average increased until 30 May, when both the U.S. and U.K. had holidays in which players did not have to work.

After the 30th, CCP encountered some, to put it kindly, adventures that resulted in extended downtimes that suppressed player turnout on both the 31st and 3 June.  I would guess that the numbers were a result of players just giving up for the day, although CCP always puts something into the client code that keeps bots from working properly until the bot developers fix things.  The continuing software updates could have also suppressed the logging in of bots.

So over the last 2-3 weeks, what really happened?  Did CCP have a successful promotion that was marred by server issues that kept players from logging in?  Did the offer of PLEX to recruit new players fall flat on its face?  Or did CCP Sreegs manage to ban as many accounts as players were able to recruit?  The window into the shadowy world of CCP's War On Bots™ is beginning to close.

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