Monday, July 13, 2015

Dueling Charts

With the capture mechanics of FozzieSov ready to launch tomorrow, I think EVE is about to experience an increase in activity similar to that experienced with the launch of Crucible in November 2011. Crucible was the expansion that followed the Summer of Rage and saw EVE's activity numbers rebound for two years.

The first requirement is a drastic decline in activity. As I wrote last week, Ripard Teg documented such a decline on Reddit. Below is one of Ripard's graphs covering average concurrent users from January 2014 to June 2015.

Pretty drastic, right? One might even ask if EVE is dying. But one cannot go just by the concurrent user numbers alone. As is my habit, I dove into the real money trading numbers, both the black market figures and the sales of PLEX in the game for ISK. While my latest research on ISK buyers is still ongoing, I think the sales figures from The Forge might interest some folks.

Pretty amazing, isn't it? According to Ripard's graph, the average concurrent users logged in during March 2014 was about 35% greater than last month, yet players in both month's used PLEX to purchase 61 trillion ISK. In the year-over-year comparison I did for the first half of 2014 vs 2015, players purchased as much if not more ISK every month in The Forge, home of EVE Online's premier trade hub, Jita.

If EVE were hemorrhaging players, I would expect the amount of ISK players purchase every month to decrease. I just don't see that happening. What I believe is occurring is that players are not multi-boxing as much as they used to. CCP has made changes to the game over the past year to reduce the amount of accounts players need. Does that hurt the bottom line until the cash shop comes fully online? Definitely. I even expect CCP will take a financial hit as the company moves away from the cult of multiple accounts.

I should add that I probably have a longer time frame in mind for judging the success of CCP Seagull's efforts in guiding EVE Online into the future. The effort to redo all of the major systems in addition to altering the business model to rely less on subscriptions and try to keep the existing player base happy is similar to trying to modify a race car going 200 miles per hour. Despite the delays in instituting the null sec sovereignty changes that helped create the latest drop in activity, I like what CCP Seagull accomplished in her first year as executive producer of EVE Online

Back in November I wrote that I wouldn't give CCP Seagull's tenure as executive producer a final grade until June 2017. I figure she needs that long to fully implement her vision. But for now, the next step in the plan lands on Tranquility tomorrow. Thank whatever deity you worship, because now the pundit class (including yours truly) can stop speculating and start observing.


  1. Does your ISK graph account for the fact that PLEX prices are at an ingame high right now? saying players purchased more ISK in The Forge that this time last year isn't helpful due to the price going up. If you can show an increase (or at least no decline) in the number of PLEX sold then I would agree with you on that front.

    That said, overall I agree. The number of players logged in might be down, but I haven't really noticed any less activity. I think the delicne is mostly due to the multiboxing changes meaning that there are no longer players running dozens of accounts at once. Add to that the current holding pattern with null sec waiting for FozzieSov, and it's no surprise that numbers are down at the moment.

    I don't think it is anything to be concerned about, if the numbers are still declines in a couple of months, then there is a problem and CCP needs to start looking at ways to solve it. But for now, it's business as usual

  2. Back in the day, when Plex average 500mil, I used to sell two when I was selling - now if I time things well, I can get away with selling one...

    So, for me, measurement in Isk is spot-on. That's how I measure what I'm selling - not the number of Plex.

  3. I'm not sure you can draw any conclusions from the PLEX graph. If it's "stable" over time, you may have identified a long term, core group of PLEX users. Or you're identifying the actual marketeers for PLEX, rather than end buyers/sellers. Or any one of a host of other possibilities

    To make matters more confusing, if there are fewer multiboxers, logic pretty much demands that there be fewer PLEX traded. It's highly unlikely that multiboxers were subbing their alts with cash. So what could account for fewer accounts, but no change in PLEX?

  4. So when fozziesov hits all those hisec and/or casual capsuleers (both used to be 67% of the subs) that are currently "waiting" will return because it's patch day ?

    I think not.

    There is absolutely no new content for months, expect for some new missile modules and a dessy or two.
    It's all refurbishment of established systems and tweaks in database numbers.

    The reason why a bi-annual jebus feature did not work is because CCP fooked it up, go check CCP's commitment on Excellence.
    The idea is still good to have a yearly large feature and monthly updates to bring in better numbers.

    Even the CSM thinks CCP should have implemented fozziesov as one package, the company made it possible for average concurrent users to dwindle over time.

    In the meantime PLEX has risen to just below 1 billion isk and the minimum cost for a yearly sub is 132 euro, I wonder if people who return will calculate what they will get for value for money from the company.

    Don't get me wrong, all the changes CCP made since they finally have a plan under Seagull cater to the core of the game's inhabitants.
    It's just not attractive to the general public, ask any gamer what eve online is: they rather read about it, because playing it will hurt them somehow.

    Even CCP acknowledge they are more interested in bringing in lapsed accounts, now with actual people behind the controls no alts allowed.
    And I still have to hear any feed back about their inquiry of what relative amounts the player base is made of, enablers, instigators etc.

    Regards, a Freelancer

  5. Nosy, I may be wrong, but the graph only shows that PLEXes are being traded, not that they're being added nor removed form the echonomy.

    Take a PLEX, trade it 100,000 times and the graph won't be able to tell that from 10,000 PLEXes being traded 10 times each. In both cases will show 100,000 PLEX trades, and the averaged value of each transaction. But won't say a word on whether people is actually adding or removing PLEXes from the economy.

    Did I miss something?

  6. I'm currently in the process of selling plex after a nice market up, maybe I have lots alts or it's just a nice % profit ?
    There has to be a graph out there that shows the former assumption:

  7. Yes. This isn't about the number of PLEX being sold, this is about the amount ISK being sold. I'm not trying to figure out how much CCP is making in real life. I'm looking at player interest in the game and the amount of ISK sold, both on the primary and secondary/black markets is one indicator of interest.

  8. The amount of PLEX being sold is going down. But in this piece, I don't care about those who are PLEXing their accounts. I'm more concerned with those buying ISK. Is it widespread, or is it just a bunch of whales? I don't know, but I don't see the whales increasing their buying habits that much.

  9. Yes, my chart accounts for the increased price. The chart shows the actual amount of ISK players purchased with PLEX, rounded to the nearest 100 billion.

  10. Were they really 67% of subs? CCP never told us that figure. They told us the number of characters and the percentage of characters that logged off in the different security bands, but never gave us a breakdown of accounts.

    My theory isn't that high sec carebears are going to come back in droves. My theory is that null sec PvPers are going to come back, and I expect them to probably bring their alts with them, many of which were high sec bears.

  11. You could have 10 bored players interested in bubbling PLEX prices, or 10,000 players interested in EVE and positioning themselves for The Great Joy To Come.

    I didn't mention CCP. But looking how often PLEX change hands shows nothing about interest with the game. It's a perfectly player-agnostic data when it comes to demographics and interest.

    Are 10,000 veterans returning? Or 100 bored veterans swinging PLEX around?

    The data can't tell one from other.

  12. Viince_SnettertonJuly 14, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    There will be an initial surge, no doubt. As I said before, the null sec crowd are going to start cranking up those ratting carrier alts in the ultra-secure enclaves, creating massive amounts of ISK. The high sec crowd, what is left of it, though, will be throwing their hands in the air as plexes head to 1.5 billion, maybe more.

    This release is yet another disaster for high sec, not that the null sec lobby group or CCP cares.

    But as to that surge in activity, I doubt it will hold. The high sec players will stage another exodus due to their loss in relative wealth to null, and when people realize that the griefers and null sec cartels will still run null sec, many people who are going to give sov holding a try will quit also.

  13. Eve online used to be about the players doing their thing in the sandbox, when they discovered something fun the company would act on it to make it better and listened to the community to add more sand, especially during fanfest before the higher echelon management made into a media circus.

    Lately CCP listens to the lobbyists of selected groups, they get voted in by large entities and bring their personal projects and/or constituents agenda's to CCP's HQ.

    For instance; the players discovered a new way to play in the sandbox, use wh travel to navigate across new eden to enhance the gameplay and add content.
    One or more lobbyists did not like this and asked for a nerf, which the company obliged to.

    When you have a business that is at least $70m worth annualy in subs you tend to cater to the lobbyist that provide the core of that value. It's smart business practice to provide services to your loyal costumers, and rest just have to calculate if they get value for money from the company.

    Plex is nearing 1 billion isk and the cheapest sub is a year's worth of 132 euro. Let the rest of hisec and the casual players vote with their wallet first before voting for the CSM imho.

    Regards, a Freelancer

  14. 1.5 bil per PLEX. So belated. I stepped away from PLEX when I realised that: 1) it had ceased to be game and turned into second employment 2) passed the 600mil mark.

    How is wealth passing from high-sec into Null, really? The only turning point has been the increase in null-sec mining. Which would reduce the reliance on high-sec sources. Frankly its a welcome change (this from a high-sec miner). A 20% increase in Null-mining? Not really a major impact, when factored against the increased mex/zyd requirements of manufacture.

    Whether a null-sec player earns 100mil per hour or 200mil per hour, I will still be pulling in 20 mph for mining or missioning (yeah I am one of those "doing it wrong"). I just don't care; adieu, farewell, good fucking luck to you if you can pull in the mega-isk.

  15. Viince_SnettertonJuly 14, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    You talk about Eve becoming a "2nd employment". So when prices skyrocket, but high sec ISK potential remains the same, what does that mean for high sec players: more hours of grinding for the same results today.

    That means a drop in high sec players. Period. Fullstop.

  16. 10 bored players doing this for the last 6 months? Now I know you're trolling.

  17. Back to square one: the market statistics can't tell apart demand from speculation and demand from returning players, and that invalidates them as a measure of interest in the game.

  18. I meant to talk about avoiding turning a video game into a 2nd job. The whole point of the virtual is to escape reality - not duplicate it.

    As I have pointed out elsewhere - which is conveniently ignored by the forum warriors of Eve-O; Bounties and Mission LP/ISK are static items. For that matter so is Incursions. In the meanwhile, PLEX has blossomed to what 900mil? It means what I previous earned in ISK now requires three times the effort to acquire.

    I fully appreciate this matter - and my reaction is obvious. Five accounts has become one subscribed account. But I am enjoying the game more by not spending long numbing hours to support 4 plexed accounts.

    If players are dropping from high-sec for similar reasons - that is actually a good thing. Because it is a game, which should be fun - and grind is anything but.

  19. Here is an experienced dev opinion on what is going to happen

    PLEX prices is going up because there are no new players.
    Before it was like this

    New players face the paywall
    want the shiny battleship nightmare
    Buy plex and sell it for ISK
    Buy the battleship and officer modules
    Lose it to gank and buy plex again

    Now this circle is broken because now everyone knows eve is harsh and unfair and new players are not coming

    Number of plex is static or going down
    Number of isk from veterans is going up because their income is going up

    CCP problem : they listen to hardcore players and don't listen to newbies. Prices of plex will reach 2-3bln ISK. Starting to drive hardcore players out.