I really hate when I can't write a post because the numbers don't add up. I had a nice theory about why the famous concurrency graph on Chribba's Eve-Offline.net appears stuck at 30,000 concurrent users. All I had to do is convert the weekly averages displayed by Chribba into a monthy average, then compare that against the MMOData dataset of EVE Online subscription numbers, make a couple of graphs, type some words, and then look like a genius. I did this for January 2009 to May 2012. Sadly, my theory fell apart.
Happily, because I just didn't post my theory without doing my due diligence, I don't look like a complete idiot. I do see a pattern emerging, but I need to convert the EVE Offline numbers into monthly averages going back to March 2006 to see the actual pattern. While I won't go so far as to say the graph is a lie, I do think that many take the graph out of context.
Of course, putting the graph into context is harder because CCP stopped supplying hard subscription numbers to the public after May 2012. I believe that whoever made the decision at CCP would argue that with the reopening of Serenity that mixing the Chinese figures with the subscribers on Tranquility would not really result in good numbers. But perhaps not. CCP did announce the EVE Online had surpassed 500,000 subscribers in February 2013, and those figures included China.
In reality, I think that most players are more interested in the number of subscriptions logging into Tranquility, as Serenity is a completely different world. I know that I am. The subscription numbers after May 2012 would really show the effect of the War on Bots on EVE.
Right now the only data point I have for Tranquility after May 2012 was provided by the CSM elections in March 2013. I haven't checked the math personally, but a commenter noted that based on the turnout, the number of subscriptions was between 408,000 and 410,000, which indicated a 10th consecutive year of growth on Tranquility, not just EVE as a whole. Why bring up the consecutive growth record? Because I believe that CCP stopped supplying the subscription numbers to Ibe Van Geel because, for the first time, the numbers in July 2012 would not show year over year growth.
I know that Hilmar brought in people from places like Trion and EA in order to bring some professionalism and better practices into CCP following the Summer of Rage. But one of those standards is trying to obfuscate the subscription numbers, something that CCP had traditionally, unlike most of the industry, provided transparency on. I think that the outside professionals missed that the player base still has tools to judge the health of the game. But until CCP decides to remove the API that give players access to the information, we are going to use it, even if the numbers by themselves are imperfect because they lack context. If CCP would release the subscription numbers every so often, perhaps the players wouldn't keep wondering and trying to figure things out on their own.