Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The CSM's Fall Offensive Has Begun

On Friday (2 September) The Mittani posted his dissatisfaction with CCP management on Kugutsuman:
"There are two fronts to the political metagame of the CSM. On one front, that of micro-level gameplay, we have done very well with FiS negotiation, focusing the next expansion on 0.0 issues and communicating our views with absolute clarity. On the other front, dealing with macro-level business decisions and squaring off with CCP's upper management, our 'carrot' strategy has failed. We can get along peachy with Stoffer and fix FiS at the micro level. But at the macro level, Hilmar et al control the amount of resources that good people like Stoffer gets, and they seem to think their subscriber curve will go upward even if they spoonfeed us excrement.

"Worse, our interactions with CCP's upper management in the aftermath of the Emergency Summit have shown us that the suits are not treating the needs of the players with the gravity they deserve; our willingness to negotiate in a chill way with the FiS teams (which has met with obvious success) is being misinterpreted as a sign of weakness and compliance by the suits.

"So the gloves come off. There's not much point for Goonswarm striving to 'fix EVE' by seizing control of the CSM and negotiating successfully with the FiS devs if the amount of resources allocated to FiS itself dwindles and the game continues to stagnate. In the coming weeks we are going to be making some extremely loud statements regarding the neglect of FiS, the failure of Incarna, and the need for CCP's management to pull the game out of this stall. We need something new to do, not something new to wear.

"This will not take the form of an incoherent threadnaught (though that certainly got results, last time) but we may seize control of the internet's dynamic media - Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, and the gaming press as a whole for several news cycles."
On Sunday (4 September), Trebor Daehdoow posted some of what got the CSM so upset:
"However, after a considerable delay, what we got back from CCP was quite disturbing. The minutes had been significantly rewritten by a senior CCP employee (who will remain nameless because we are not sure if this was done on this person's own initiative or on orders from higher-up. It was not, I am happy to say, either of the CSM's advocates inside CCP, Xhagen and Diagoras, who were on vacation at the time). What has been euphemistically referred to in public as issues of "tone" was in fact a major rewrite which grossly softened the severity of CSM's concerns and criticism of CCP.

"Furthermore, we were told that CCP's position was that the minutes were a 'joint report', as opposed to what minutes have traditionally been -- a report by the CSM to the community about the meeting.

"The CSM was unanimously outraged. CCP was attempting to put their words in our mouths; in effect, turning us into unpaid spokesclones for the CCP PR and Marketing departments."
The gaming press may have forced the CSM's hand by paying attention and publicizing The Mittani's Kugu post.

Edge (September 5th):
"Management at Eve Online developer CCP has been accused of neglecting the popular MMOG and its users, doing little to arrest a stall in growth of subscriber numbers brought on by the controversial Incarna update, and of being 'hell-bent on running Eve Online into the ground.'

"The claim comes from Alexander 'The Mittani' Gianturco, chairman of the player-elected Council of Stellar Management (CSM), who in a lengthy blog post accuses CCP of ignoring Eve Online after shifting focus and resources to its World Of Darkness MMOG and the Eve-linked online shooter Dust 514."
PC Gamer (September 5th):
"'In the past,' says Gianturco .'EVE expansions were based off the desires of the players, to augment their behavior. Player Owned Stations exist because CCP noticed players stockpiling goods in safespots in GSCs. Outposts were added based on the obvious attempts to build more infrastructure in 0.0. Wormholes provided a place for players to indulge in a no-local environment and explore the unknown.” Gianturco then points to the Eve players statistics, claiming that Incarna had no noticeable effect on player numbers, unlike previous expansions.'"
Rock, Paper, Shotgun (September 6th):
"Whatever the result, those flames could end up reaching pretty high. Unfortunately for CCP, players like Gianturco are much better at this stuff than they are. The company has been prone to devs saying the wrong things, as well as making some catastrophic design errors along the way. Of course that’s almost always forgiveable because things can change, and the game is a work-in-progress. It’ll evolve. It always does. But CCP are increasingly unable to come away from misjudgements or battles with player-opinion while also looking like a winner. This will be their most difficult challenge yet. And I believe that’s because this is the most fundamental battle they are ever going to face: a battle over how to run both their game, and their company.
"What is being fought over is fundamental because it’s about what paying a subscription for a game actually means. The subscription model of gaming is a cash-machine the likes of which gaming has never known, but it is in decline. It’s being experimented with in Eve, which is adding a “cash shop” for extra income. You still have to pay a sub to play, but not you can buy a few extra bits and pieces if you have the money spare. It’s a milder version of the system that now powers dozens of free-to-play projects. This isn’t the issue at stake here."
And if you only click on one link from this post, go read the Rock, Paper, Shotgun article.

With the gaming press starting to pick up the issue, The Mittani began the media campaign yesterday.  He did a brief interview with Eve News 24:
Q: What sort of measures do you have in mind to coerce CCP into getting back to reason, considering that being CSM chairman also puts some limits on you?

The Mittani: CCP is enormously reactive to media pressure. We’ve seen that before, and we’re going to see that again.

Q: Having a background as a lawyer, would threatening with a boycott campaign (legal in some countries) against these new products CCP is producing was been considered?

The Mittani:  Nope, that wouldn’t do anything as those products haven’t been released yet people often suggest really foolish tactics for pressure on CCP such as resignation, violating the NDA, etc.

All you need to do is have them called out in the media for their failures. Devs are very reactive to the media because the media influences customers significantly.

Resigning is the kind of tactic teenagers think matters. Many CSMs have resigned in snits over the years, it’s accomplished nothing, ever.

The Mittani ended the day doing an interview with DJ Funky Bacon along with fellow CSM members Trebor Daehdoow and Seleene.  This is an interview that I would like to get a copy of and I would recommend people listen to.  The interview will be on the Rewind section on the Eve Radio site.  The show is found under "Funky Bacon 6th of September" and will be available for 7 days.  If this were a weekend I'd actually try to write up the details.

UPDATE:  One final thought.  The analysis of player activity posted by Ripard Teg at Jester's Trek seems to have really fueled The Mittani's resolve and given him proof that something is not right in the game.  I do have to make one statement about his articles, however.  Jester states that the average daily usage is unavailable.  I checked the Eve-Offline site and the average user graph going back to 2006 is up-to-date and data is available, at least the way I mine it.  This is not to knock the numbers that Jester uses, since I use the Eve-Offline site as the source of my analysis on peak concurrent usage as well.  I just point this out to state that if CCP had been hiding the numbers (which would be stupid) they have wised up.  Then again, CCP is not publishing the Quarterly Economic Newsletters anymore, so thinking that CCP is looking to hide bad subscription and usage numbers is only natural.

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