Thursday, May 12, 2022

Pearl Abyss Q1 2022 Earnings Call

Some view the world like the glass is half-full. When looking at the results of Pearl Abyss' first quarter 2022 earnings call, an optimistic person might say the South Korean game maker did better than expected. Two analysts wrote their expectations for the call on BusinessKorea last week:

Pearl Abyss is expected to have posted sales of KRW88.8bn (-12.0% YoY,-24.7% QoQ) and operating loss of KRW1bn (negative swing YoY and QoQ, operating margin of -1.1%) for 1Q22. The company should have swung to a loss owing to sales drop and labor cost hikes from new hires, despite declines in marketing spend and other expenses. Sales likely fell QoQ due to high base effect created by Pearl Abyss Capital’s one-off investment gains booked in 4Q21.

Pearl Abyss didn't do quite that poorly, as the slide below shows.

Okay, Pearl Abyss brought in ₩91.4 billion ($75.5 million), beating expectations by 3%. But after the one-time revenue claim from Pearl Abyss Capital at the end of 2021, revenue was expected to plummet from the last quarter of 2021. And while drops in operating profit and net profit fell off a cliff, at least PA had profits to claim.

Gaming revenue rose in the first quarter, up 4.3% from the Q4 2021 total of ₩85.4 billion ($72.7 million) to ₩89.1 billion ($73.6 million). Before continuing, I need to explain why the U.S. dollar total only went up 0.1% instead of 4.3%. The South Korean won is weakening against currencies like the dollar, British pound, and Chinese yuan. In the rest of the article, the won to dollar valuation is calculated using the exchange rate on the last working day of the quarter as found on Xe. So as we can see, the dropping value of the won is boosting Pearl Abyss' profits.

We can do the same with Black Desert IP revenue. Year-over-year, Black Desert revenue dropped from ₩82.9 billion ($73.2 million) in Q1 2021 down to ₩70.9 billion ($58.6 million) in Q1 2022, a 14.5% decline in revenue. The Black Desert IP did post a quarter-over-quarter gain of 5.8%, from ₩67 billion ($56.3 million) up to ₩70.9 billion ($58.6 million).

The EVE IP revenue looked very steady over the last year, with revenue rising 3.4% from Q1 2021's total of ₩17.6 billion ($16.2 million) up to last quarter's ₩18.2 billion ($15 million). Oh, oh. Now we can really see the effects of the weakening won. If converted to U.S. dollars, the 3.4% year-over-year gain turns into a 7.4% revenue decline. 

Continuing on, EVE revenue remained "steady" from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022, only falling 1.1%. Even doing the won to dollar conversion doesn't show a big drop, as EVE brought in ₩18.4 billion ($15.5 million) in the final quarter of 2021.

At this point the pessimist takes over. With revenues inflated by the steadily weakening won, what are Pearl Abyss' plans to increase revenue? The April launch of Black Desert Mobile in China was disappointing not only to the analysts on the call, but to Pearl Abyss as well. From the tone of the call, the real possibility exists that Pearl Abyss will launch no games in 2022.

The analysts tried to get the Pearl Abyss leadership to let them know if Crimson Desert would launch in 2022. The answer was basically, "You'll find out when we tell the public." Listeners on the call were also told that the studio was concentrating on Crimson Desert, which means DokeV most likely will launch after the Black Desert spin-off. One analyst even asked about the upcoming Black Clover mobile game mentioned on the February earnings call. Despite telling analysts three months ago the game would launch in the second half of 2022, the analyst could not get Pearl Abyss to confirm if the timing still held.

About the only big news that might happen in 2022 is Pearl Abyss self-publishing Black Desert Online in South America. The move would mean the South Korean studio would now self-publish around the globe. Perhaps more importantly, every time Pearl Abyss self-publishes BDO in a region, its revenues increase for a time.

New Pearl Abyss CEO Jin-young Heo did answer a question about the future of Pearl Abyss. Below is a transcription of the translated answer.

You also asked us about the direction of our new business going forward. And we are planning many things. For example, we have DokeV that uses the metaverse platform as well as others that use the web 3 platform so we are seeing the market trends. And to successfully launch Crimson Desert in line with the Western biggest market, the console market, and also to make DokeV into a metaverse platform and to showcase this to the market. And to have a new project which I have before mentioned, using the current market trends of blockchain and web 3.0 using the EVE IP. So we believe as a game development studio we are going to focus more on these and that will be our task going forward. 

I would love to get a transcription of the Korean language portion, as I believe subtle but important differences exist. For example, in the passage above, the translator used the term "EVE IP", while the CEO used the actual term "EVE Online." Korean and English speakers may walk away from the call with two impressions of what Pearl Abyss plans for the future. 

In today's trading, Pearl Abyss stock declined 6%, finishing the day at ₩57,500. So far in 2022, Pearl Abyss stock has declined 57.1% in value.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Feeling Down About Fanfest

Today is the 19th anniversary of the launch of EVE Online. I have held at least one subscription to the game since August 2009. That's right, I have played through two-thirds of EVE's history. Between the subscription fees and all the EVE meetups and conventions I've attended, I estimate spending between $35,000 and $40,000 on my hobby. While CCP received less than 20% of the total, I have spent quite a lot over the years.

Speaking of travel, I have gone to Iceland to attend Fanfest seven times. I went every year from 2012 to 2018. CCP did not hold a Fanfest in 2019, and my trip in 2020 was cancelled due to the emergence of COVID-19. I started a new job in February so couldn't get the time off to attend this year.

I do have to say, that in all my time playing, this year is the most underwhelmed I've felt at the thought of the news about to come out of Reykjavik from CCP's flagship convention. I started the year wanting to play more EVE following completion of FFXIV's Endwalker expansion MSQ in December. That lasted until March and the news of Prospector's Path and the Prospector Pack that sold Retrievers in the cash shop. Looking back, that was a gut punch. I still fiddle around with planetary interaction, but I really need CCP to come out firing at Fanfest to rekindle my interest in New Eden.

The only problem is, I don't see any indication that we will see CCP release a major content patch following the convention. Or that CCP will make any major announcements over the weekend at all. If they do plan on doing so, they are keeping the news secret.

I find the lack of news disturbing. On 11 April, we have seen a promise to not bring blockchain technology to Tranquility. Two days later, CCP revealed "Siege Green" on the Singularity test shard. So we see some numbers change on Upwell structures. Big deal. Okay, removing the hull reinforcement timers may wind up a big deal. But I don't see an expansion level patch in our near future.

So, what would get me excited? First, that CCP is about to incorporate Hadean's Aether Engine into EVE to allow a huge increase in the number of players who could participate in fights. Did I mention in the last test, the Aether Engine used Unreal Engine 4? Maybe at the same time the developers increase server capacity, they can port our current characters into Unreal Engine and finally get rid of the last vestiges of the Carbon engine.

Next, a full revamp of the mission agent system. Making the PvE in EVE much better would benefit any plan to turn EVE into a play-to-earn game. Forget players like myself. Such a move would make Pearl Abyss investors very happy. The financial world knows our Korean overlords in Anyang could use the boost.

Finally, in this "in case of emergency, break glass" moment, I would love to see a way to finally reach Jove space and run into another race. Not a human-type race like we have today. An actual, alien race. Barring that, I would love to see Triglavians become a playable faction.

Those are my hopes and fears for what we will see tomorrow during the Fanfest keynote address. CCP needs something big. I can hope, right?

Monday, May 2, 2022

Another Record Breaking Sales Month For Cloud Imperium Games

Last week the gaming industry experienced a lot of bad financial news. Everything from Activision Blizzard missing its expected sales of $1.8 billion by $320 million in the first quarter, to a 30% drop in stock price for Pearl Abyss, the news was poor. But the week ended with Cloud Imperium Games bringing in historically high revenue for the month of April.

The figure on the Roberts Space Industries funding page increased by almost $7.7 million in April, finishing the month at $454.2 million. The figure was the best April for CIG in its 10-year history, surpassing 2020's $4.1 million. Total revenue for the first four months of 2022 was $27.7 million. According to the unofficial Crowdfunding Development Spreadsheet, CIG raised nearly $97.5 million from 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 for the development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42.

Readers have asked why concentrate on the funding amounts. What about the game play? The features? The vision. Let's face facts. All of those things are nice to know when a game is about to launch. But currently we are looking at a possible release of Squadron 42 in 2024 and Star Citizen in 2026 or 2027. We don't know the development status of Squadron 42, and Star Citizen is still in early alpha.

One thing we do know is that CIG does not have enough money in the bank to complete development of the project. Here is the amounts raised by CIG so far.

  • Ship/equipment sales and game packages: $454.2 million (thru 30 April 2022)
  • Subscriptions: $22.8 million (thru 31 December 2020)
  • Other income: $44.7 million (thru 31 December 2020)
  • Outside investment: $63.2 million (thru 31 December 2020)

At the end of 2020, CIG had $63 million in the bank, but had spent $80.8 million that year. For all the dreams of players to come true, the company needs to continue cranking out ships to sell at very high rates. Currently, CIG is on pace to reach $100 million in sales in 2022. Hopefully that is enough to forestall layoffs until the company can open up another revenue source by launching Squadron 42. But watching the coffers fill up in real time is a bit of slow motion drama I find interesting.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Pearl Abyss Stock Take Beating For Last Two Days

Investors in Pearl Abyss put a lot of stock in the news that Black Desert Mobile would soon debut in China. The initial news surrounding the commencement of BDM's open beta in China led to a massive sell-off of the Korean game company's stock.

Pearl Abyss officially released its mobile version of its popular Black Desert label in China on Tuesday with commencement of open beta test (OBT), nearly one year after it gained permit from Beijing authorities in June last year in a rare acceptance of a Korean game label in recent years.

"Black Desert Mobile" zoomed to the top of the Chinese app store game charts, becoming the No.1 downloaded game in the country upon release. It also led the charts of Tap Tap, an app market run by Tencent that is jointly marketing the game with iDreamSky. Black Desert Mobile is a mobile version of Black Desert Online, the blockbuster published in 2015 with cumulative downloads of more than 36 million worldwide.

But the fanfare quickly fizzled out, with the rank sliding to 75th later in the day and recovering to 29th Wednesday morning.

The result? The price per share dropped from Tuesday' opening price of ₩97,000 ($76.25) down to a closing price of ₩74,100 ($58.25). The 23.6% loss was followed up by another loss of 9.7% in trading Wednesday. Pearl Abyss stock closed at ₩67,000 ($52.67) per share for a two day loss of 30.9%. 

Pearl Abyss ended 2021 on a high note, with its stock worth ₩138,300 ($116.28) per share. While the company's stock is still 26% above its 52-week low price of ₩53,100, Pearl Abyss stock has declined by over 50% so far in 2022. With Pearl Abyss' biggest hope for a success in 2022 fizzling out, the next earnings call in two weeks should prove interesting.

Monday, April 25, 2022

EVE Online Prices Break A Historical Barrier

Well, the mad lads at CCP headquarters did it. In the run-up to Fanfest 2022 in less than two weeks, they became the first to break the $15 per month barrier for a basic one month subscription price for a major MMORPG. Sure, I pay $21.99 per month for my FFXIV account, but included in the price is $8/month for my 4 extra retainers. But on Friday, CCP announced the price of a standard one-month subscription (known as Omega time) would rise from $14.99 to $19.99 per month.

Includes the weekend's sale

For those wondering, the price changes are below.

  • 1 month: +33.7%
  • 3 months: +23.5%
  • 6 months: + 21.3%
  • 12 months: +14.1%

The 2 month and 24 month options are new.

The new PLEX prices

The price of PLEX, the item used in EVE Online's cash shop to purchase Omega game time as well as digital goods, will experience its first price increase since May 2017. The price hike is partially obfuscated by the changes in the number of PLEX offered in each package. The only offering that remains constant is the 500 PLEX amount, which is increasing by 25%. 

The two big questions are why, and why now. First for the why. In my opinion, the announcement news article was horribly written. Here are the reasons in CCP's own words.

To continue investing in EVE Online’s evolution and growth, and to realize our mission of EVE Forever, we are updating the price of all existing Omega and PLEX. This adjustment reflects global trends impacting general production costs and accounts for years of inflation, amending the 1-month USD subscription rate for the first time since 2004. These adjustments will have an impact on other currencies.

1. To continue investing in EVE Online's evolution and growth. I think a lot of players are going to wonder about that claim. How many expansion level patches have we seen over the last few years. I doubt many people even noticed Tuesday's article on the history of EVE's database server hardware. With the announcement, the motivation for publishing the article goes beyond fan service to a bunch of computer geeks.

2. " realize our mission of EVE Forever..." What? I believe that marketing campaign came out in 2013. Does anyone give it any credibility anymore?

3. "...reflects global trends impacting general production costs..." Having lived through Square Enix' failed attempts to beef up its servers before the launch of the Endwalker expansion, I can sympathize with the increased costs and lack of availability of computer infrastructure and other associated IT costs. Plus, inflation is going to raise the price of labor. The cost of living in Reykjavik is high in the best of times. I don't want to see the staff not able to eat properly.

In addition, CCP Paragon went to Discord and spent 40 minutes talking to players and trying to explain the reasons for the price hike. The big takaway was that the sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine really is hurting financially. I remember how an 8% loss of subs in 2011 helped lead to major layoffs in October 2011. I imagine a sudden drop in players from a country that supplies approximately 10% of its player base could hurt financially.

Finally, for the question of "why now?" My question is, if not now, when? I was at Fanfest in 2014 and saw the aftermath of The Rouge Wedding, when CCP told DUST 514 players about the effective death of their game. At the time, I think everyone agreed the devs should have told players before Fanfest to avoid learning the news thousands of miles from home.

CCP also couldn't tell players after Fanfest. The convention ends on 7 May, only 4 days before Pearl Abyss' Q1 2022 earnings call. The price hikes are bound to come up on the call. Best the news comes from CCP than from a blogger who listens to all of the calls live.

The above reasons dictate that the announcement come before Fanfest. However, the stakes for Fanfest and the upcoming May patch just went through the roof. CCP really needs to knock Fanfest out of the park. 

Personally, I have three EVE accounts. With the price hike, I will unsub one account whose subscription runs out in December and use part of the money to add two more retainers to my FFXIV account. For those interested, that will bring the cost of my FFXIV account up to $25.99/month. My Omega time on my other two accounts runs out in March and August of 2023. I'll keep those at a cost of $25.98/month because I buy my Omega time in 12 month chunks. I think spending $52/month is a pretty good price for entertainment. I just need to rearrange my spending, because a third EVE account is no longer worth the cost.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Star Citizen Reaches $450 Million In Sales

Early this morning the counter on Roberts Space Industries page surpassed $450 million. That's right, Cloud Imperium Games has sold $450 million in virtual good in order to fund the creation of Star Citizen and Squadron 42.

The funding page for Star Citizen and Squadron 42

The total amount of revenue received since Cloud Imperium Games' founding in April 2012 from known sources is:

  • Pledges/Counter: $450 million
  • Subscriptions: $22.8 million (thru 31 December 2020)
  • Other income: $44.7 million (thru 31 December 2020)

Not too bad for a company that showed a negative net cumulative position at the end of 2019.

At its current pace, Cloud Imperium Games will reach $100 million in revenue in 2022. The only question is whether we will see the mark achieved from watching the funding page or if we will need to wait until CIG's 2022 financial statement comes out, probably in December 2023.

I'm not sure these $50 million figures are even newsworthy for CIG anymore. But for now, I think the event is worthy of a post.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Hilmar's Change Of Mind On NFTs In EVE Online

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.

CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, June 2011

In 2011, a leaked internal email from CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson contributed greatly to the event known in EVE history as The Summer of Rage. I use the quote above often, as I believe the events led to an era of distrust between the developers and the players. One of the many concerns were CCP's plans to monetize the game.

Move forward almost 11 years. Players are still worried about monetization efforts that would negatively affect the game. Today, the issues involve non-fungable tokens, the metaverse, and play-to-earn mechanics. On 5 November 2021, CCP announced the company was giving out NFTs for prizes in Alliance Tournament XVII. Six days later, Pearl Abyss stated CCP's parent company was looking for opportunities to introduce NFT into both EVE and Black Desert Online on a quarterly earnings call. Also starting on that November call, analysts began asking about the possibility of introducing the play-to-earn model into EVE. Perhaps more ominously, Pearl Abyss invested $3 million into Hyperreal, a metaverse company whose software can create NFTs the day before CCP announced the introduction of NFTs into EVE Online via the Alliance Tournament.

Of course, Hilmar looked excited about the move to embrace NFTs. 

He even went around to conferences joining meetings with NFT types.

Which leads us to yesterday. Hilmar made a much needed statement about blockchain technology before Fanfest in a few weeks.

There has been a lot of speculation around blockchain technology, NFTs and cryptocurrency and what that means for the future of EVE Online, so I wanted to address it.

At CCP, our mission is to have the EVE Universe outlive us all: EVE Forever. One huge part of this is exploring new technologies and new possibilities - something EVE players know that I’m always fascinated by. This philosophy is rooted in EVE Online’s inception; when we created EVE, it was seen as too radical and ambitious, yet here we are about to celebrate EVE’s 19th anniversary.

Many of us at CCP have been following the new frontier that has been developing around blockchains and cryptocurrencies for the past few years. We’ve read your feedback and we also see what you see - blockchain tech has both a lot of untapped potential and a lot of work needed before being ready for EVE-scale games.

On that note, we have no plans to add blockchain technology into EVE Online’s global server Tranquility for the foreseeable future. For the coming years, development for Tranquility will focus on building exciting new opportunities on top of the robust foundation that has been laid over the past two decades.

While we remain intrigued by the technology, for us, NFT stands for “Not for Tranquility”. Overall, the EVE IP will continue to push the boundaries of digital economies and virtual worlds - and we will continue to explore that outside of TQ.

Fanfest is a month out and personally, I’m very excited – it’s been two-and-a-half years since our last in-person meet, in London during the EVE World Tour. I look forward to seeing many of you in the flesh again and talk about EVE and our future!

CCP Hellmar

Honestly, I don't know how much to trust the statement. The fiscal quarter ended two weeks ago. I have to ask how much did all the talk of NFTs and selling fitted ships do to EVE subscription and sales rates. One thing I've observed about Hilmar over the 12 years I've played EVE Online. He starts changing his opinions when he starts losing money. When Hilmar stated 11 years ago "where we look at what our players do and less of what they say", he was really talking about how much money players were spending. The next Pearl Abyss earnings call should prove interesting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Reaches $20 Million In Revenue In Q1 2022

Cloud Imperium Games, the maker of Star Citizen and Squadron 42, recorded $20 million in sales in the first fiscal quarter of 2022. For the month, March's total of $5.8 million in revenue from ship and equipment sales fell 20% from February's $7.3 million in sales. 

I stumbled across a Google Sheet that tracks funding for the project on an hourly basis. I have seen the file referenced on a couple of Star Citizen videos, so I decided to use the data myself. The results might surprise people.

Remember the stories at the beginning of the year about immense dissatisfaction over CIG changing the amount of detail the developers shared on the roadmap? About that dissatisfaction. In the first quarter of 2022, revenue publicly updated every hour on the Star Citizen website is up 50.8% compared to Q1 2021. As a reminder, CIG had its best year financially in 2021, bringing in $86.4 million, not including subscriptions and other forms of income. 

Last month I speculated that CIG was on pace to receive $100 million in revenue from ship and equipment sales in 2022. With major sales event like Invictus Launch Week, CitizenCon, and the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo still to come, I feel more confident in stating CIG will raise $100 million in 2022.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Axie Infinity Related Blockchain Ronin Network Hacked For $540 Million

On Tuesday, the Ronin network, which powers the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity, publicly reported a major security breach.

LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - Blockchain project Ronin said on Tuesday that hackers stole cryptocurrency now worth almost $615 million from its systems, in what would be one of the largest cryptocurrency heists on record.

The project said that unidentified hackers on March 23 stole some 173,600 ether tokens and 25.5 million USD Coin tokens. At current exchange rates, the stolen funds are worth $615 million, but they were worth some $540 million at the time of the attack.

This makes it the second-largest crypto theft on record, according to blockchain analysis firm Elliptic.

Ronin is used to power the popular online game Axie Infinity, which uses non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and is the biggest NFT collection by all-time sales volume, according to NFT market tracker CryptoSlam.

Ronin said in a blog post that the hacker had used stolen private keys - the passwords needed to access crypto funds - to make off with the funds.

A lot of reporting is using the higher number over $600 million, but I will use the valuation on the day of the hack. According to Axie Infinity publisher Sky Mavis Ltd., the funds are still in the hacker's crypto-wallet. The publisher also stated the hack occurred due to social engineering, not a technical flaw in the Ronin network. But reading a blogpost from Ronin leaves me wondering exactly the social engineering involved. To me, a little bit of human error was involved, leaving an attack vector open to potential hackers. For those interested in the technical details, the blogpost included details of the attack.

Sky Mavis’ Ronin chain currently consists of 9 validator nodes. In order to recognize a Deposit event or a Withdrawal event, five out of the nine validator signatures are needed. The attacker managed to get control over Sky Mavis’s four Ronin Validators and a third-party validator run by Axie DAO. 

The validator key scheme is set up to be decentralized so that it limits an attack vector, similar to this one, but the attacker found a backdoor through our gas-free RPC node, which they abused to get the signature for the Axie DAO validator.  

This traces back to November 2021 when Sky Mavis requested help from the Axie DAO to distribute free transactions due to an immense user load. The Axie DAO allowlisted Sky Mavis to sign various transactions on its behalf. This was discontinued in December 2021, but the allowlist access was not revoked. 

Once the attacker got access to Sky Mavis systems they were able to get the signature from the Axie DAO validator by using the gas-free RPC. 

We have confirmed that the signature in the malicious withdrawals match up with the five suspected validators.

The blogpost detailed 6 steps the company took as a result of the security breach.

  1. We moved swiftly to address the incident once it became known and we are actively taking steps to guard against future attacks. To prevent further short term damage, we have increased the validator threshold from five to eight.
  2. We are in touch with security teams at major exchanges and will be reaching out to all in the coming days. 
  3. We are in the process of migrating our nodes, which is completely separated from our old infrastructure.
  4. We have temporarily paused the Ronin Bridge to ensure no further attack vectors remain open. Binance has also disabled their bridge to/from Ronin to err on the side of caution. The bridge will be opened up at a later date once we are certain no funds can be drained. 
  5. We have temporarily disabled Katana DEX to due to the inability to arbitrage and deposit more funds to Ronin Network. 
  6. We are working with Chainalysis to monitor the stolen funds.

The Washington Post reported that the breach was noticed days before Ronin became aware of the hack. 

Since tokens fluctuate in value, breaches can have an effect on trading. The crypto community on Tuesday was abuzz about the action of “Cobie,” an enigmatic crypto figure (real name: Jordan Fish). He generated an intense back and forth on Twitter when he said he had taken short positions on a large number of NFTs from the game last week because he perceived security flaws.

Since The Nosy Gamer is a blog dedicated to video games, I should at least mention a little about a game I have only recently heard of. The Wall Street Journal gave a description.

“Axie Infinity,” launched in 2018, is part of a small but fast-growing number of so-called play-to-earn games. Also known as blockchain games, they largely center on the buying, trading and selling of virtual assets backed by nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. The games are considered an early foray into the metaverse, a more immersive future version of the internet where people are expected to work, learn and be entertained.

“Axie Infinity” had more than 1.7 million daily users in February, according to Sky Mavis. In it players collect digital pets called Axies that they use to compete in battles. They can sell and trade the creatures for digital currency. Some Axies are worth more than others.

Finally, since I haven't written any posts explaining what NFTs and play-to-games are, I'll conclude this post with a video put together by the Wall Street Journal. Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2022

EVE Online Taking Two Steps Forward

I want the services hinted at to investors in South Korea proclaimed to the world at Fanfest. Services that the player base will love. Services that don't include selling ships in the EVE Online cash shop. Hopefully in the run-up to Fanfest in May CCP will start dropping information showing I'm completely wrong. But I have my doubts. I really, really do.

The Nosy Gamer, 15 March 2022

I really want CCP to make the first live Fanfest in 3 years something to remember. In past times, the run-up to the event involved hearing and reading about a lot of the content the developers planned to introduce at the yearly event. Hopefully Tuesday's news item is a taste of things to come, listing five areas of change coming soon to New Eden.

The first area involve nerfs to Upwell structure defenses. The nerfs are:

  • Standup Point Defense Battery: Will now require ammunition along with a longer reload time.

  • Standup Guided Bomb Launcher: Will hold fewer bombs and have a longer reload time.

  • Standup Anti-Capital Missiles: Damage to be reduced.

  • Standup Arcing Vorton Projectors: Will no longer have the ability to target subcapital ships. The projectors will lose the ability to headshot fleet commanders in a subcapital ship such as a Monitor.

The one buff involves increasing the missile speed of Standup Missiles to allow them to catch and damage subcapital ships.

The second area involves mining. After years of nerfs, the Rorqual is receiving a buff in the form of a new module. The industrial capital ship will soon have the ability to conduit jump 30 mining ships next to them, giving mining fleets greater operational range.

The third area involve buffs to subcapitals. The Proteus Tech 3 cruiser will receive more fitting room to allow for a better tank and full rack of blasters without the need to sacrifice a slot for a fitting module. And in response to recent battleship buffs, the Tech II bomber will receive reduced cooldowns for their bomb launchers.

In addition to the ship and module changes, CCP is introducing the Feature Preview system. From a separate dev blog published Tuesday:

As a part of our ongoing efforts to lay the foundations for EVE Online’s third decade and continually improve the world’s largest living work of science-fiction, we're happy to introduce the Feature Preview system – allowing players to opt-in and engage with complex features still undergoing active development, test driving them directly in the EVE client.

Our aim is to more fully incorporate feedback into our prototypical process by allowing you access to these features early while we design them. Your invaluable feedback on past features has already allowed us to improve and shape them into better additions to EVE – and this new way of testing will allow far more exposed development, enabling earlier chances for players to express important feedback while also allowing our team to gather information on how you play EVE and what will best aid you in that pursuit.

The preview system is available on Singularity and comes to Tranquility in April. The debut preview feature will be a UI unification project, aimed at improving consistency, creating a better onboarding experience for new players, and reducing cognitive load for all players. The features offered in the preview system are temporary and can be easily turned on and off. Your participation is optional, and it is important to note that the features you will be given access to will not be in their final form. We look forward to learning from what you, the players, think as we introduce new features and build the future of EVE Online hand-in-hand.

Finally, CCP will work on blueprint changes to faction ships, dreadnoughts, and capital ships, releasing their work in April before Fanfest.

Not everything is promising. We still have the specter of the developers introducing new RMT systems at Fanfest as we discovered in a Friday night news dump.

One of the topics for Fanfest is a new project that we’re in the middle of developing, that will transform these and any future packs - a paradigm where packs of this type will be supplied by players, ensuring that any ship we offer to new players through sales, will have origins from actual player work in New Eden: Made for new players, by veterans. This feature will also not only supply each ship from the player base but allow the community to influence which ships will be put in these packs.

Still, CCP seems on its way toward ... something. Hopefully, we continue to hear good things until CCP reveals all at Fanfest in the first week of May.