Monday, September 16, 2019

The End Of The Blackout: Hurricane Hilmar Moves Back Out To Sea

I woke up Saturday to news that CCP would lift the imposition of delayed local today in null security space today. CCP chose not to delay its plans.
On July 5, we announced the local blackout for nullsec, which then came into effect on July 12.

This temporarily switched local chat over to delayed mode across nullsec space so that both chat and the intelligence service that it provides behaved the same as wormhole space.

Over the course of the blackout we’ve seen some substantial changes in player behavior and a massive impact on those we believe to be suspected of botting. The duration of the blackout wasn’t specified in order to allow us to gather information without a hard deadline for concluding it.

After 66 days, the blackout of local chat in nullsec will come to an end during downtime today, September 16 and local will return to immediate mode with full population counts and member lists.

The blackout has given us an incredible amount of insight in terms of player behavior, sentiment and ability to adapt to rapid short notice changes. This will help to better inform us on where to take the direction of New Eden in future.
Hurricane Hilmar didn't impact my game play directly. I don't play in null sec, and I don't buy RMT tokens like PLEX and skill injectors. A huge drop in players that affects the economic viability of keeping the servers running? I start to care.

I probably should wait for the September data to roll in before making any judgments. But I do feel we have enough data in now to make one conclusion. CCP let the situation go on too long. Given the way CCP introduced delayed local, I was sure the feature was a one month experiment ending with the release of the August patch on 13 August. When I saw the numbers, particularly for the PLEX market in The Forge, I thought for sure the developers would flip the switch and restore local. I was wrong.

As Ripard Teg's chart shows, the drop in average concurrent users took place after the August patch. Perhaps the decision makers looked at the data, didn't see a drop in Omega accounts or ACU, and decided they would continue the feature. Then the floor dropped out from under them.

Of course, I'm assuming what CCP's data showed them, as they have a lot more data than I do. I can only work with what is publicly available. The next real look we get at activity, outside looking at the PLEX market in The Forge, is 1 October when the final activity numbers for September appear on Dotlan.

Activity through 15 September. Source: Dotlan Maps
While the September MER will not have a lot of data for the mid-month change in local, the Dotlan data will provide some sort of rough approximation for the effect on player activity.

As for now, the big question is whether EVE Online will fully recover from the missteps, or if the game is permanently crippled. I honestly don't know. Which is why we look to the data we have to try to make an informed judgement.

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