Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Mittani On The Incarna Launch Mess

Normally I don't blog on Sundays.  But yesterday was a pretty rough day.  I did my first bit of work at 7:30am and I don't think everything finished until 8pm.  Since I was stuck at my computer desk I tried to do Eve stuff but I was continually drawn back to the crisis CCP faces.  I'm trying to stay positive and even made a public statement stating I'm staying in Eve, but I'm getting depressed.  I broke down and opened up the bottle of мускатова ракия that someone was kind enough to bring me from Bulgaria last month (luckily the Chicago area has the largest Bulgarian community in the United States so I should be able to get more).  But even fortified I'm not happy watching not only Pandemic Legion but Chribba jump into try out Perpetuum.

Right now I'm placing all my hopes on a gentleman from the other side of the Cheddar Curtain (as we in Illinois sometimes call the border with Wisconsin), The Mittani, to help CCP pull out of the nosedive they placed themselves in.  Here are some thoughts from our illustrious chairman of the Council of Stellar Management as posted on Kugutsman.

"Why Do We Give A Shit?
"I and the rest of the CSM have been extremely blunt in our demands that CCP issue a formal disavowal of 'gold ammo', non-vanity microtransactions, or otherwise bleeding gold into the sandbox of EVE. My impression is that a quick "Look, the monocles are expensive, but we're not doing gold ammo" would have ended this crisis days ago and CCP wouldn't be down at least 2500 accounts. The fact that CCP has remained silent on the issue is increasingly being taken to imply what everyone fears - that a company which would without irony charge $70 for a space monocle will issue $250 i-win lasers.

"A few years ago, we saw the impact that 'oligarchs' had on the nullsec metagame, when Red Overlord had SerLordex spend a hundred thousand dollars on Eve Online, A Bad Game. The kind of economic distortion that would come from a legalized and pervasive 'gold ammo' style of gameplay would mean that, in order to stay competitive, every PvP entity would be obliged to acquire and use gameplay-enhancing gold items or suffer for their austerity. Perhaps some of you think that 'Pay to Win' is acceptable in a competitive subscription MMO; I do not.

"What The Fuck Were They Thinking?

"This is my impression of what happened, not based on any NDA information or CSM Secret Squirrel shit.

"CCP's Virtual Goods store tried to imitate the business concept of Starbucks. The great Starbucks trick was coming up with a fancy setting and bourgie babby coffee shops, changing the environment of 'buying coffee' enough that the consumer was willing to pay $4 for a cup of coffee where previously he would buy the same drink at Dunkin Donuts for a $1.

"Reading Zulu's blog where he emphasizes that EVE is a 'premium experience' and references designer jeans, it seems like the CCP Marketing department hoped to do the same thing. EVE is so special and spiffy and cool, you see, that in EVE you're not buying a hat for a dollar or two like in Team Fortress, or an entire wardrobe in
Star Trek Online for seven bucks. Those games are Dunkin Donuts. EVE is Starbucks - it's just so different that you'll buy ~virtual goods~ that are almost ten times the prices of comparable MMOs.

"The problem, of course, is that EVE is a broken game. The ship balance is terrible, nullsec desperately needs a revamp, the PvE is laughable, and playing without goons is like stabbing yourself in the balls over and over again. EVE is not a 'premium experience' as it currently stands - particularly if your
ATI video card just overheated and died when you tried to load your Captain's Quarters.

"So it flopped. CCP tried to distinguish EVE from other MMOs in terms of microtransaction pricing, and now people are running around in lynch mobs wardeccing and blowing up anyone who's actually bought something from the NeX. Selling a
virtual shirt that costs more than the real shirts in your own company's store was probably not the suavest move, either.

"Where Could This Go?

"Rumors indicate that ~5000 unsubs have occurred already; there is already significant media blowback over the Monocle, the protests and the CEO letter, with the gaming press unilaterally taking the side of the outraged playerbase. Unless CCP deploys effective damage control and takes charge of the situation, the risk is that the game itself could see an exodus and abrupt subscriber deflation. Meanwhile, a number of 'famous players' such as Ombey, Helicity Boson and Lallante have loudly thrown in the towel and are playing Perpetuum or Tanks or whatever. These people may be pubbie fucks that we don't care about, but many other pubbie fucks follow them as they are ~opinion leaders~.

"Even without the head-up-ass public relations crisis, the Incarna release doesn't look good for CCP. Usually an expansion results in a huge activity spike in subs and online users. While we don't have access to subs information, anyone can chart the
downward slope in average users online since January 2011.

"While in nullsec we have ties to this game that are primarily social and competitive, Joe Pubbie just wants to spin his CNR in a mission hub; there's not much holding the 80% of the Empire subscribers in this game, should there be an obvious stampede towards the exits. And if they do, the economy of the EVE goes into the shitter overnight, CCP's planned 'revenue stream' to fund DUST and WoD vanishes - which will make them even more eager to extract capital from what players remain in the game - and the media has a field day making Horse Armor and SWG:NGE jokes. That's the Doomsday Scenario.
Now, believe it or not, I am a little more disdainful of CCP's pricing strategy than The Mittani.  I actually think that CCP is trying to do what Allods Online did, which is price extremely high and then walk down the price.  Given the reaction that the makers of the Russian F2P game received, I think that CCP really didn't do their research on this matter.

The worst part is that The Mittani's worst case scenario is exactly what I fear is happening to Eve Online today.  I really love this game and I'm afraid that CCP is about to throw everything down the drain in a fit of hubris.

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