I am a believer in the new accelerated release cycle that CCP Seagull has instituted for EVE Online. I saw what a two week cycle did for Guild Wars 2 and knew that if CCP could implement good quality releases, then EVE would experience the same type of player retention and acquisition numbers. I spent some time last night compiling some numbers for a post I plan on writing in early December about the subject. But as I gathered the data, I thought a quick review of September and October might prove interesting.
As the graph above shows, the weekly average concurrent user number steadily declined in September as Hyperion didn't engage with EVE players. But are the numbers as bad as they appear? Taking into account the typical seasonal effects, I don't think so.
I have the full set of weekly ACU numbers from Chribba's EVE-Offline.net going back to March 2006. The data isn't as good as CCP's in-house data due to server issues and API server downtimes, but EVE-Offline.net is the best available source for this type of data. When I convert the weekly ACU numbers into monthly ACU numbers and compare the changes from August to September for the years 2007 to 2013, the average decline in ACU is 4.3%. The decline this year from August to September was 5.1%. While the decline was steeper than the historical average, Hyperion still outperformed the same period last year, when the Odyssey expansion witnessed a drop in monthly ACU of 7.9%.
Oceanus is the first of the small releases that actually saw a greater number of players logged in at the end of the period than at the launch. But I don't think that had as much to do with the content of the patch as much as the news that came out in October. The day after Oceanus launched, CCP Greyscale published his dev blog on the long-distance travel changes. While the player base debated the proposal, CCP Seagull's keynote presentation at EVE Vegas got people talking. Well, that and the prospect of tech 3 destroyers. Of course, the end of October and first weekend of November saw mass movements of jump-capable ships all across New Eden as pilots raced to pre-position ships ahead of the jump drive nerf.
Was the increase in player activity as impressive as the 15.6% increase in ACU from the week of 22-28 September to the week of 27 October - 2 November appears? Not really. The change in the monthly ACU only increased 3.4% from September to October. Of course, the average increase in monthly ACU between the two months from 2007-2013 was only 1.2%, so Oceanus outperformed the average. The patch also outperformed Odyssey during the same time period, as Odyssey only saw an ACU increase between September 2013 and October 2013 of 2.9%.
I don't want to say that EVE is in great shape, because in a year-over-year comparison of October 2013 and October 2014, the monthly ACU dropped 12.7%. But comparing the weekly ACU between the first week of September and the last week of October, the ACU has increased 4.1%. But winter is coming and EVE historically sees an increase in player activity during this season. Who knows? Perhaps the ACU will even get back to June 2014 levels by the end of the year.