Saturday, October 7, 2017

EVE Vegas: Winning The Race Against Time

One of the long-running themes around EVE Online is, "EVE is Dying!!!" While the game has declined since its peak in 2013, the game is pretty active for a 14-year-old title. Of all the EVE killers to emerge, though, the biggest recent threat is Star Citizen. If the game had come out in the 2014-2016 timeframe as originally advertised, CCP as a company probably would have felt a lot of financial pain.

But beginning in 2015, CCP implemented financial moves to become a major player in the virtual reality market. In April 2015, CCP bought back $20 million in bonds two years early. That news was followed in November 2015 with the announcement that venture capitalists had invested $30 million USD into CCP for the purposes of developing virtual reality games. A week later, CCP's first VR game, EVE: Gunjack, released on the Gear VR, with releases on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR occurring throughout 2016. EVE: Valkyrie also debuted on the three VR platforms in 2016, with a non-VR version releasing just last month. And at the end of August, Sparc released on the Playstation VR.

With the recent emphasis on the development of VR content, Hilmar's presentation on the first day of EVE Vegas, titled "CCP Presents", provided the surprise of focusing on non-VR games. The two games discussed were Project Nova, the followup to DUST 514, and Project Aurora, which promises to bring the EVE Online universe to mobile devices. Interestingly, CCP is not trying to develop the games alone. To develop the new first-person shooter, CCP is working with UK developer Sumo Digital. Doing some research after the presentation made me a lot less impressed with the developer than Hilmar made them sound from the stage, but I guess that's expected at this point. The developer working on Project Aurora is the Finnish studio Play Raven, who seems a good choice to work with as a mobile game studio. Play Raven co-founder and CEO Lasse Seppänen appeared on-stage, where he was roundly booed when he described Project Aurora as EVE Online with less spreadsheets. Yes, EVE players love their spreadsheets!

Now, despite Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games doing their best Blizzard impersonation and announcing the release of Alpha 3.0 to the Evocati test group Friday morning, I think CCP is in good shape. By the time Star Citizen launches, probably in late 2019 or early 2020, CCP's product line should have diversified enough to withstand a hit caused by the release of a new game. Depending what I hear over the next two days, the promise exists that CCP's product line will prove superior to what CIG eventually produces. Two years ago, I thought Star Citizen could cause CCP problems. Now? Unless CIG has something they haven't shown the world, CCP is in good shape.

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