Monday, August 1, 2011

Eve's Peak Concurrent Users In July: Did Players Come Back?

Now that CCP will no longer release the Quarterly Economic Report, attempting to get subscription numbers will be a challenge.  Is the cancellation of the QEN a reaction to bad news caused by Monoclegate?  And does that mean the subscription numbers are bad? I thought I'd take a look at July's peak concurrent user (PCU) numbers and try to determine the answer for myself.

One thing that stuck me was that the numbers remained fairly flat all month.  According to the numbers from the 30-day PCU chart on Eve-Offline, July started off with declining activity as the emergency CSM Summit in Iceland finished and a statement was published on 2 July.  The numbers stabilized for a week, but in the middle of the month the numbers started declining again.  The 7-day rolling average of PCU began to rise again on 20 July when CCP reinstated the PLEX for Buddies program that it suspended on 7 July.

A look at Sundays, the busiest day on Tranquility, makes the case even clearer.  In the 6 Sundays before Monoclegate, the PCU averaged 52,500, with PCU hitting over 53,500 as excitement grew over Incarna.  But after the leak of the Fearless newsletter, the numbers plunged down to an average of 49,400 in the month of July, a drop of almost 6%.  This is not a good sign for the game considering that Incarna was supposed to raise the retention rates of new players with not only avatars but an improved New Player Experience.

Now, I am not the only one studying the CPU in Eve Online.  Jester over at Jester's Trek also took a longer look at the CPU going back to the beginning of Eve and is also pointing out that the trend for Incarna is not good.

But do the numbers indicate a declining player base?  The numbers may just indicate players just don't play as long anymore.  In the recent Aurum give-a-way, CCP stated that they were giving away 1,000 Aurum to each account, which is about 108,000 PLEXs.  That comes out to somewhere in the neighborhood of 370,000 - 380,000 accounts, which is still higher than the 356,000 Eve accounts in existence at the beginning of the year.  But if the number of accounts indeed has remained fairly stable, the lower activity numbers indicate a lower level of engagement by players.

Is this the high water mark for Eve?  I don't think so.  CCP's recent partnership with Nexon will probably see a surge of new players as Eve is made more readily available to the Japanese market.  But in the near term, CCP won't have the success they thought they were going to ahve because the players who left during Monoclegate don't appear to be coming back.

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