Over the weekend I realized something strange happening with the PLEX market in The Forge. The ISK value of PLEX traded in the region had not exceeded 3 trillion ISK in a single day since 17 May, which followed a 24-hour PLEX sale that occurred on 16 May. Lower trading activity is common after a PLEX sale, but not for two weeks.
|The ISK value of PLEX sold reached a low for the year|
Before exploring other reasons like shifting markets to explain the decline, I checked the player activity recorded on EVE-Offline.
|The PCU reached lows for 2021 over the last two weeks|
For months, Tranquility saw peak concurrent users exceed 30,000 accounts every day. Beginning on 19 May, that changed as the PCU failed to exceed 30,000 nine out of twelve days. I had to read Wilhelm's last war update to confirm, but Sunday's high of 29,898 players logged in was the first time PCU failed to exceed 30 thousand on a Sunday since the beginning of the current great null sec war that began in the beginning of July 2020.
The date of the decline in both PLEX value traded and peak concurrent users happened around 18 May. What else happened on 18 May? The Great Escape launched. But would the changes to warp nullification and warp core stabilizers really cause thousands of players to stop logging into EVE? As we saw with Hurricane Hilmar in 2019, players need an alternative game to flee to in order to turn disgruntlement into a natural disaster. In August 2019, WoW Classic launched as players realized Blackout would not end after one month.
|The pre-patch for TBC Classic launched on 18 May|
EVE's The Great Escape was not the only game update to appear on 18 May. Blizzard launched the pre-expansion update for The Burning Crusade Classic on the same date. I have a suspicion that Blizzard launching TBC Classic servers is drawing players away. I also expect the actual launch of the expansion tomorrow to noticeably drop activity in EVE for the next few weeks. At that point, a recovery within the next few months doesn't look promising. EVE traditionally sees less activity starting in mid-July with players coming back to the game starting in October.
The good news is that player discontent is way lower today than in August 2019. Still, when the Dark Portal opens tomorrow, we have to watch to see how many people wander through a wormhole and into Outland. I'd wager the number will be noticeable.