Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Key Performance Indicators To Watch During The Summer Of WTF

In 2011, we had the Summer of Rage. Last year we experienced the Summer of Mild Discontent. Until a more catchy name comes along, I will call the summer of 2019 the Summer of WTF, as the current rage was triggered by events that had players asking themselves, "WTF CCP?!"

A lot of players are upset about the way CCP instituted the Drifter Menace on 26 June. Still others are upset about the implementation of delayed local, meaning players do not show up in local until they post. If CCP removes asset safety from null sec citadels as they've hinted at in the past two Scope videos, I expect a lot of players will lose their minds. Let's not forget that the major null sec blocs intend to move against the residents of high security space in some way. How will high sec players react?

With all the disinformation about to flow forth from EVE, how can interested observers tell what the effects of CCP's recent moves had on New Eden? I like to think I know a little about EVE. I may not know much about null sec warfare or flying titans, but I know a little about the statistics that people use to measure the health of EVE. I've put together a set of statistics I plan on using over the coming months to judge the Summer of WTF.

Concurrency: One of the biggest indicators of player activity is how many characters are logged in. Unlike most games, CCP makes an ESI (think API for other games) end point that gives out the information. The most trusted site for historical information on player numbers is EVE-Offline.net.
While the numbers for longer periods are rounded to the nearest thousand, we can compare not only the average concurrent player counts from month to month, but year to year as well. For example, the average number of players logged into EVE in June 2018 was 24,000, or 8% more than the 22,000 logged in during June 2019. In 2018, the average concurrent user count throughout July, August, and September was 23,000. If the number in 2019 only drops to 21,000, CCP would have to call that a win. Larger drops would indicate the changes are hurting business.

The PLEX market: One of CCP's major sources of revenue is the sale of PLEX for the purpose of turning real life money into EVE's in-game currency, the Interstellar Kredit (ISK). While we don't know the actual sales figures, we can get a good idea by watching the market in The Forge. Comparing June 2018 and June 2019, 5.1 million fewer PLEX were traded in 2019, a drop of 9.6%. A further drop in the amount traded probably means CCP's accountants may become concerned. Last year, the amount of PLEX sold in both July and August exceeded the amount sold in June.

Another piece of data to watch is the price of 500 PLEX, or one month's Omega time. Over the course of the summer of 2018, the price stayed relatively stable. In June 2019, the average price of 500 PLEX is slightly over 2 billion ISK, or 43% over the average June 2018 price. A huge price drop would indicate players ceasing to PLEX a very large number of accounts.

PvP activity: I plan to look at two pieces of information in regards to PvP activity. The first is the number of player ships killed, with an emphasis on activity in null and high security space. Those figures I can find on the statistics page on Dotlan. If the null sec blocs decide to add a military component to their planned economic warfare against high sec, the ship kill numbers should show a shift in activity. If we see activity down across the board, that could mean bad things for CCP's bottom line, as ship loss helps drive PLEX sales.

In 2018, PvP kills in null sec increased from 251,350 in June to 260,270 in July. High sec saw a corresponding decrease, from 381,363 in June 2018 down to 298,622 in July. The figures in June 2019 were 263,825 ship kills in null compared to 248,420 in high security space. As a slight diversion from the topic at hand, did the changes to the war declaration system really have that big an impact?

PvE activity: Looking at PvE activity is an obvious statistic, even if secondary. Is the number of NPC deaths declining due to wars, or people unsubbing? Or is that just show the effect of the local changes on bots? If the number of NPC deaths increases, especially in null sec, is that an indication of the player-base adapting to the change? Once again, I'll look to Dotlan to provide the numbers.

The PvE activity in 2018 seems a reverse of the PvP numbers. The number of rats killed in null sec decreased from 210,390,563 in June 2018 to 204,994,339 in July. In the meantime, the number of NPCs killed in high sec jumped from 96,739,369 in June to 04,498,003 in July.

Going into the Summer of WTF, NPC killing is way down year-over-year, with only 88,449,933 NPC's dying in high sec and 176,580,417 in null sec. War has a way of really decreasing PvE activity. So does banning bots.

The Monthly Economic Report: If the above data gives some insight to the number of players and/or accounts leaving the game, the MER can show the effects on the changes to those who choose to remain as well as activity numbers. Unlike the other measures, the numbers for June 2019 are not out and I have not compiled the numbers from 2018. The main numbers I plan to look at over the next few months are:

ISK faucets and sinks: This shows the value of activity in the game. I'm sure CCP hopes to see the faucets decrease and the sinks remain the same. With the changes in null sec, I fully expect the faucets to slow. If the sinks also slow, that is probably bad news for the developers.

Active ISK delta: A lot of people claim the changes will bring them back to playing EVE. If so, the active ISK delta will show if that is true. The active ISK delta shows the amount of ISK leaving or entering the economy based on accounts either being inactive for 30 days or starting up again after being inactive for 30 days. Yes, the figure includes accounts made inactive due to GM actions, such as bans for botting and other RMT-related activity.

The Mineral Price Index and Consumer Price Index: Extracting the index numbers isn't easy, but a big enough rise in these key indices could mean the average player who doesn't follow the meta or EVE news starts to notice his surroundings.

The Regional Statistics: The MER breaks down some of the statistics by region. The two big regions to watch out for are Delve and The Forge. Delve is the home of the Imperium and the biggest market in null sec. The Forge is the largest market hub in New Eden. Big changes in either region will ripple throughout the rest of the game.


With any luck, the collection of these statistics will show that all is well in EVE Online. But EVE players are a rowdy bunch, given to making a lot of noise when displeased. Let me end with a quote from a leaked email from CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson about the Summer of Rage in 2011:
Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.
With all the complaining about the recent changes, we may be at another point in time when we watch what the players do and not so much what they say. And I'm making my preparations to do just that.

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