Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Was Inferno An Incarna-Level Event?

I think that Incarna will go down in history as the measuring stick for bad Eve Online expansions.  That's why I got a kick out of reading the reactions of players upset with the new unified inventory system comparing Inferno to Incarna.  Of course, I'm not a power user who engages in POS management or alliance logistics so I didn't think much of the change.  Well, that is not entirely true; I loved all the tears I collected from the botting forums because of all the difficulties bot developers had adapting to the change.

Still, threats were made about mass unsubscriptions and how everyone was leaving the game.  I even had this comment left on the blog...
"The numbers are lower from unsubscribed accounts, due to the unplayability for a lot of functions used ny [sic] Industrialists, and the new Infinigeddon. I have cancelled all 4 of my accounts. My former Alliance LEader cancelled 4 as well that are 5 years old.

"I know of 4 similar 'cancelled all accounts' players just from my Local Area In-Game.

"It's just too much nonsense anymore for casual play."
And that comment was to an article that showed a massive drop in the average number of users online before Inferno to corresponded suspiciously with the launch of Diablo 3.

Showing the Diablo 3 Effect
But in the interest of being fair and balanced, I really should take a look at the numbers after launch.  I've downloaded the daily average concurrent user numbers from Chribba's Eve Offline and compared the 7-day rolling average for the first thirty days after both the Incarna and Inferno launches.  I omitted the average for both launch days because those tend to skew the numbers downward.

The tale of two expansions

My conclusion looking at the numbers is that Inferno truly was not an Incarna-level event.  In the first 30 days after the launch of Incarna, the 7-day rolling average of the number of players on Tranquility dropped 8.3%, from 31,990 down to 29,468.  In contrast, the ACU after the Inferno launch rose 9.5%, from 25,984 up to 28,359.  A clear win for CCP, right?

Well, not really.  The problem is that the average concurrent user number is still not back up to where it was when Diablo 3 launched.  On 14 May, the day before D3 launched, the ACU on Tranquility was 29,583, which means that 30 days after the launch of Inferno that the number of players logged in was still down 4.1%.  I'm not sure what CCP's internal seasonally adjusted numbers are, but I can't believe that not seeing growth, even with the competition from Blizzard, made senior management in Reykjavik very happy.

Of course, ACU does not tell the entire story.  I'm anxiously waiting for MMOData to come out with version 3.9 of its charts to see what the latest Eve subscription numbers are.  One possibility I have not mentioned is that all the missing people were maintaining their subscriptions and playing in the DUST 514 beta.  If that is the case then perhaps only CCP Unifex is unhappy and the rest of senior management is out trying to find a decent beer to celebrate with.  So while I'm confident that Inferno was not a disaster, I'll wait another month or two before judging how successful the expansion actually was.


  1. You might also give some credits to the well known "summer hole" which appears regularly in this time and won't change for some weeks.

    Diablo 3 is a remaining factor as some are still playing it but I've seen many returning from it and the TS3 Channel for diablo is empty most of the time.
    I don't think that CCP Unifex would be unhappy if so many eve players are sitting in the dust beta. Haven't seen an interview with him where he's not praising it in highest tunes.

    All those "unhappy players" who threaten with "I cancel all subs" are just those who want attention. I'm sure the great majority that unsubed during incarna didn't went to forum and wrote they are leaving they just did it. Some went to forum but not the majority.

    For myself, I like the changes made and most of my corp mates like them too. The remaining ones are at least not upset about it and don't think about quiting the game.

  2. I'd point out that not concurrent users pay $ to CCP but active accounts. For example I run 6 accounts. 4 of them don't play more than 3-5 minutes/week (just refresh training queue for Archon, Rorqual, Ragnarok, Nyx), so their contribution to the concurrent users is zero. Yet they pay just the same amount as the guy who is cloak-AFK in enemy space 24/7.

    The very idea that Inferno CAN have any effect like Incarna is weird. Incarna thrown a philosophical change to the players, one that many refused completely. People do unsubscribe games if they go pay-to-win (I did with World of Tanks). However I've never heard anyone who unsubscribed over an UI annoyance.

    Also, consider the possibility that the lost accounts belong to the botters, possibly because the character standing in one place for hours, attempting to put an item into a non-existing container is a very easy sign for CCP that he was botting. If they negwalleted a botter, he is unlikely to buy PLEX legit to un-negwallet (he started botting exactly to avoid paying), he probably just stopped playing or in best case PLEX-ed up his main and dropped his botter accounts.

  3. I'm a new player so I don't know what summers are like for EVE, but it *is* summer. The weather is nice, people have holidays, and while I might use those to play games, shockingly most people do not.