Friday, July 4, 2014

A Russian Disconnect?

Sometimes the real world invades our virtual worlds.  Sometimes it's Western intelligence agencies looking for terrorists in WoW and other games.  I've wondered if the decline in EVE Online's average concurrent user numbers was affected by the Russian takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.  But the Russian Duma today took the first steps toward really making an inpact on virtual worlds today when it passed a bill requiring the storage of all personal information for Russian citizens by foreign companies operating mail services, social networks, and search engines on servers located in Russia by 1 September 2016.

The ITAR-TASS news agency is reporting today that,"Under the new bill, email addresses and messages are considered personal data. The document reads 'while collecting personal data, including by means of the internet, an operator should provide recording, systematization, storage and update of the Russian citizen’s personal data using databases located in the territory of the Russian Federation.'" The U.K.-based V3 reported yesterday that failure to comply with the law would result in local internet service providers within Russia blocking access to those sites.

The Duma is the lower house of the Russian legislature, so the bill is not yet law.  The bill now moves forward to the Federation Council, but observers I've read today expect passage to prove a mere formality.

But what does passage of such a law entail for game companies like CCP?  I assume that the companies would need to either establish data centers within Russia or partner with a local Russian company to provide such storage services.  If this trend continues, especially if the U.S. government maintains its stance that it can demand information from U.S. tech companies that are stored on servers overseas, I think U.S. game companies could fall into disfavor.  But I'm not sure how Icelandic or other Nordic companies like Funcom would fare in this new environment in Russia.

h/t HVAC Repairman


  1. I don't think CCP would be affected, since in-game messages are not personal, considering your real name isn't Nozy and your Procurer isn't real.

    The only thing that can be affected is subscription data, where you provide your real life credit card and data for CCP. However even in this scenario, Russian players can simply not pay credit-card subscriptions, but buy PLEX time on Ebay (which will surely has a Russian sub-service).

  2. Nothing but more government trying to control something that it ultimately cannot really control. Yet another attempt to erect an "iron curtain", this time for economic reasons, instead of political ideology - but, with governmental greed & power as the root cause, as usual.

    I would not be concerned. Governments move too slow to erect their walls; the Internet is far too adept at adaption for them to keep up.

  3. You might as well blame Roswell aliens or global warming for the decline in CCU numbers. Why go looking for exotic reasons to explain the obvious?

    Players are finding other things to do with their time.

    The cause is simply that playing EVE Online isn't holding their attention - which means that (a) CCP hasn't been doing a good job in its development of new content, to keep their players engaged; and/or (b) CCP has been introducing unpopular changes which have been encouraging players to not play. I rather suspect that both reasons are involved to nearly equal extent.

    1. Because following the battle of B-R5RB, RUS was in a commanding position compared to N3 but were unable to hold onto their gains. Instead, N3 was able to recover and retake many of their lost systems. Did the Russian actions in Ukraine that immediately followed B-R cause dissention/disruption that led to a weakening of the power of RUS?

      There were other signs that something was going on in the Russian community. For example, there is no Russian representative on the CSM. That's very unusual and signals something happened.

    2. I don't know about the real world implications, but the Russian blocks have been fighting themselves for years. Long before Crimea. Hell. Before Russia polarized into it's current climate RUS's favorite past time in Eve was fighting other RUS. As far back as I can remember the Russian Blocks have been primarily fighting each other. Even back during The Great War there was a whole other side of the Russian Block attacking Red and Goon's backdoor, pulling ships away from the BoB front.

      I think you're just looking at this too hard.

    3. "That's very unusual and signals something happened."

      I think that Anon226 has it right and the Russians are simply losing interest, too. Russians like their games to be complicated, and the on-going dumbing down of EVE probably hasn't been too well received by them.

      And, after reading CCP Greyfail's latest devblog, I won't be too surprised to see the downward trend continuing.

    4. To the anonymous posters - you know the law hasn't passed yet, so there is no way it could have affected participation rates? My post is about how future actions could affect game companies.

      I probably shouldn't have brought up how real world tension can cause tension within a virtual world like EVE Online, but it is possible that things like the mobilization of Ukrainian reservists could have affected, in some small way, participation. I'm not sure how many players are from Ukraine, but out of 40,000 reservists, some EVE players probably got caught up.

    5. And for anyone wondering, as of the voting for CSM 8 in 2013, Ukrainians made up 1.6% of all EVE accounts, with Russians making up 9.6%.

  4. Since Ukraine is the #3 on the list of Most EvE players by country, I would say yes. A civil war would reduce their log in time.

  5. Yep. 1) Ukraine players not logging in as often, 2) Russian players not logging in as often.

    For me, it's hard to focus on spaceships when my coprmates are in the middle of a flatout civil war. Starting late february, most of the russian speaking community switched to eve-ru forums to follow the events and forgot about EVE.