Monday, December 26, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Now Has 940 Employees

I originally planned on writing an article about Cloud Imperium's financial report for 2021. The company has neither posted the information on its corporate blog or filed its group of companies' accounts with the UK. But I did run across an article on Asia One published three weeks ago that provided information about the number of employees.

According to CIG's Chief Development Officer Erin Roberts, the company has almost 1000 employees.

"Right now, we have 550 people working out of the UK, we have 150 out of Montreal, we have 120 to 130 in LA, we've got about the same in Texas and Frankfurt's got about another 120... When you're paying for five offices worldwide and development costs and everything that comes with it, then it (the money) gets used."

At the end of 2020, CIG had 695 employees. Doing some napkin math, CIG spent $116,300 per employee in 2020. If that rate of spending applies this year, we can estimate CIG spent approximately $109 million in 2022. Given that the funding page has already recorded over $111 million for the year, 2022 looks to be another profitable year for CIG.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Producer Live Letter #75 - Introducing Patch 6.3

Early this morning Final Fantasy XIV's Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida streamed the75th Letter from the Producer LIVE. Since I have the day off I thought I'd record some of the information.

Perhaps the biggest news was the release date of the patch, named Gods Revel, Lands Tremble. As pretty much expected by now, the release date for Patch 6.3 is 10 January 2023. Patch 6.31 and the new Ultimate Duty, "The Omega Protocol", will release two weeks later on 24 January. The mid-point patch, 6.35, should release sometime around 14 March. Given the date, expect patch 6.4 to launch sometime in mid-May.

The main scenario questline continues as usual. Also in patch 6.3 is the continuation of Tataru's Grand Endeavor. The Tales of Newfound Adventure continues Completing The Four Lords questline from Stormblood is required to do the new quests. Coming in patch 6.35 is the continuation of the Hildibrand questline and updates to the new Manderville weapons. The new tribal quests involving the Loporrits will also appear with patch 6.35.

In addition to the new Ultimate, patch 6.3 introduces a new dungeon, regular trial, alliance raid, and Unreal trial. The dungeon, Lapis Manalis, is integrated into the duty support system and Zero is one of the NPC choices. Yoshi-P did not provide any information about the regular trial. None of the marketing material or the patch trailer includes information about the trial either. The second part of the alliance raid is named Euphrosyne. The Unreal Trial is Containment Bay P1T6. To qualify for the Unreal trial, players must complete Abyssos: The Eighth Circle (Savage)

Square Enix is also introducing the game's third deep dungeon, Eureka Orthos. Completing the 50th floor of Palace of the Dead is required to access Eureka Orthos.

Yoshida did not forget about old content, as the final six 4-character dungeons in the Heavensward MSQ were added to the duty system. Those are The Great Gubal Library (level 59), The Aetherochemical Research Facility (level 60), The Antitower (patch 3.2), Sohr Khai (patch 3.3), Xelphatol (patch 3.4) and Baelsar's Wall (patch 3.5). The only MSQ dungeons remaining are those in Stormblood.

PvP did get some attention in Patch 6.3. Besides the start of PvP Series 3 and Season Five of Crystalline Conflict, players will find a new map for Crystalline Conflict. Named The Clockwork Castletown, the map has the feel of Doma.

For crafters and gatherers, the Splenderous Tools quests open up with patch 6.35. To access the quests, players must complete the "Endwalker" quest as well as the Disciples of Land/Hand quest "The Crystalline Mean" and unlock the Boutique of Splendors by speaking with Mown in Eulmore. A new set of custom deliveries will appear by talking with Anden. In a much needed quality-of-life enhancement, the developers are adding primary fishing locations, preferred bait, and additional conditions to the Fish Log. A new spearfishing spot will open in Upper La Noscea.

The Island Sanctuary is receiving a lot of attention in Patch 6.3. New sanctuary ranks and visions as well as new items rewards are being added as well as new materials, crops, and isleworks handicrafts. The workshop interfaces are also receiving updates.  For those into automation, the devs are adding an option to collect all available yields and leavings at once instead of having to click on 20 individual lines for each. Animals under care will also be eligible for release upon a new animal's capture.

Island sanctuaries will also become more visitor friendly. Players can now save orchestrion settings and visitors will hear the music. Also, visitors arriving at an island sanctuary will produce notifications.

Also coming to Patch 6.3 is a new treasure map that leads to a new portal called The Shifting Gymnasion Agonon found in Elpis. The Gold Saucer is receiving a third course for the Leap of Faith caled Sylphstep.

One pain point the devs are addressing is the lack of housing. Many worlds are receiving 1800 new plots. Each residential areas on those worlds will receive 6 regular wards and 6 subdivisions. Newly created worlds will not have additional housing due to the worlds having available housing already. The worlds are:

  • Dynamis Data Center: Hallcarnassus/Maduin/Marilith/Seraph
  • Chaos Data Center: Phantom/Sagittarius
  • Light Data Center: Alpha/Raiden
  • Materia Data Center: Bismarck/Ravana/Sephirot/Sophia/Zurvan

The combat UI is receiving updates to give some functionality available in 3rd party tools. Icons for damage types (physical, magic, and unique) will display in both the Battle log and flying text. Also players can toggle the ability to see the remaining times for buffs and debuffs in the party list.

The glamour system will receive updates come January as well. Players will have a wider range of activities they can do while using fashion accessories like umbrellas. For example, mounting while using a fashion accessory will automatically put the item away. Upon dismounting, the fashion accessory will reappear. Useful for rainy days. Speaking for rainy days, umbrellas will have an option to automatically activate if the rain starts falling, thus keeping the player dry.

The glamour system will also expand to integrate retainers into the feature. When changing the appearance of a retainer, players will no longer have to unequip the retainer. Yes, players will now have the ability to just cast glamours and dye the equipment of retainers. For those who use their retainers to store glamour items, the devs are granting the ability to cast glamour on a character's equipment directly from a retainer's inventory.

The above is not a comprehensive list of changes coming in Patch 6.3 or everything discussed in the Live Letter. But I think most players will find something of interest in what I did mention. The special site was updated with the latest information shortly after the end of the stream. Hopefully players will find something to get excited about when they log in on 10 January.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Down To Two

I finally did it. Yes, I reduced the number of my EVE Online accounts from three down to two. When the price hike hit in the middle of May, I looked at my accounts and realized I didn't need three. I really only had 5 characters with a significant number of skill points. Two of my characters have over 250 million skill points, one has over 100 million, one over 50 million skill points, and a specialized PI character with almost 20 million. A lot of people have multiple accounts for multiboxing, but the days of my little three character mining fleets is behind me. So down to two accounts I went.

Consolidating the accounts wasn't really painful. I just needed to transfer two characters from my third, now Alpha account, to my remaining subscribed accounts. The process does take a couple of days. First, deleting a character takes 10 hours. I can think of a couple of reasons for the delay. First, EVE players have a tendency of getting drunk and doing stupid things in the game. By putting in the delay, a lot of tickets are probably prevented each year from hung-over players requesting a character restoration. The other reason is if someone accesses the account, he characters have a higher chance of survival from a malicious actor hitting the delete key on all the account's characters.

The actual transfer process took longer than expected. I kind of expected the 10-hour transfer period. What never occurred to me was I could only transfer one character at a time from an account. Transferring two characters took a combined total of 20 hours just sitting in queues. Once again, I am not complaining about the inherent reasons for the length of time.

However, getting to the page so I could select the characters to transfer took some patients. I kept timing out. I only timed out three times before I could select a character to transfer. But the next night, I abandoned the effort after 10 attempts. I wound up waking up early the next morning and succeeded after only a couple of attempts.

By taking advantage of the recent sale on 12 months of Omega time, I only spent $280 for my two accounts for one year of game time. During the sale I spent $119.99 for one year of game time for each account plus $20 to transfer a character to each account. The sale saved me $30 per account off the normal $149.90 for 12 months of game time. Unless CCP offers a really good deal on multiple character training, I've probably spent all I need to on EVE unless I go to Fanfest.

Monday, December 5, 2022

A Messaging Battle

Sometimes I feel sorry for CCP's game devs. They work hard to put together an expansion like Uprising. Players received new ships, updated graphics, new types of ship decorations not tied to the cash shop, and an overdue update of the factional warfare system. As expected after an expansion, player activity increased.

Of course, the haters and bitter vets on places like the EVE Online sub-Reddit couldn't admit that CCP did anything positive to increase player interest. Instead, the causes were giveaways like free game time and a login campaign. Nothing to do with all the improvements CCP's game developers put into EVE

Then we get to the other extreme.

Look, I realize Hilmar's tweet was not intended to engage with EVE players. The target of the head of Pearl Abyss' largest western studio was our overlords in Anyang and investors interested in Pearl Abyss stock. EVE players don't deal in questionable statistics like Daily Active Users. To EVE players, the number of people actually playing the game at the same time they do is a lot more important. If the leadership of CCP wants to engage with their player base over activity, they need to discuss statistics like Peak Concurrent Users (PCU) or Average Concurrent Users (ACU). 

From now until Pearl Abyss' Q4 2022 investors call sometime in February 2023 I'll look at several statistics from inside EVE Online to determine which side is correct, the haters or the white knights. I might even post some of them if real life gives me a chance. Right now, I think the white knights are in the lead. Hopefully that is not an unhealthy dose of copium and the positive trends I see will continue until EVE's next major expansion. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Records Record $23 Million In Sales In November 2022

In November, Cloud Imperium Games rode the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo to its best revenue month in CIG's 10 year history. Out of the $23 million in sales recorded last month, $21 million came during the last 13 days of November. Overall, CIG reached $105.5 million in sales through the first 11 months of 2022. 

Sometimes putting these numbers into perspective helps. In the second and third quarters of 2022, the EVE IP brought in $27.1 million in revenue. If EVE: Echoes made the same amount in sales in 2022 as it did in 2021, then EVE Online made approximately $22 million during that six month period. So in one month, CIG recorded more in sales than EVE Online did for Pearl Abyss from April to September 2022.

Coming up in December is the expected annual statement from CIG of the company's financial performance for 2021. Unlike last year, we do not have a group of campanies' accounts filing from the UK's Companies House to give a preview of the report. We do know the total revenue for 2021 was at least $86.4 million.

From all sources listed on the Cloud Imperium Games various websites, the company has made $599.3 million in CIG's 10 years of existence. 

  • Pledges/Counter: $531.8 (through 30 November 2022)
  • Subscriptions: $22.8 million (through 31 December 2020)
  • Other income: $44.7 million (through 31 December 2020)

In addition, CIG has received $63.25 in venture capital funding. When the next yearly financial statement comes out in a few weeks, expect to see the combined amount of subscriptions and other income to increase by $10-$12 million.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Filed A 10:1 Share Split In October

In about 4-5 weeks Cloud Imperium Games is expected to publish financial information covering 2021 on its website. As part of my preparation to write about the article, I searched on the UK's Companies House for filing information on Cloud Imperium UK LTD. While the company has not yet filed its accounts for 2021, I did see a notice of sub-division of shares filed on 10 October 2022.

Posted on Companies House 20 Oct 2022

For an explanation for what a sub-division is in the U.K., I went to CompanyWizard, a company that specializes incorporating new companies in the U.K. A subdivision, or share split, is:
Share splitting is an option open to companies whereby each share will be subdivided into two or more new shares. This means that the individual will hold more shares but each share will have a lower nominal value.

A straightforward split will not change the shareholders’ rights, this means that the voting control and rights to dividends will be unchanged after the split. All that has changed is the number of shares and the nominal value of each share.
Before writing this post, I asked around on why CIG might have conducted a share split. A passage from the CompanyWizard website summarized the answers I received.
The main reason for doing a share split is to improve the liquidity of the company’s shares.

For example, if a company owner has just 1 ordinary share with a nominal value of £1 they cannot sell half a share, but if there were 100 ordinary shares with a nominal value of 1p, the owner could choose to sell 50 shares. In the same way, a new investor might no be comfortable investing £1000 and only receiving one share, however, they may be more comfortable receiving 1000 shares worth £1 each.

Share splits are frequently done by publicly quoted companies because it can reduce the share price in line with the split, but it does not reduce the market value of the company.
"Improving the liquidity of the company's shares" sounds like CIG possibly is seeking additional outside investment into the company. Considering CIG is experiencing the highest revenue in its history in 2022, with sales to exceed well past $100 million, the news might come as a surprise.

The last time CIG conducted a share split was in December 2017, when the stock split from 100 to 1 million shares. The announcement of the Calders' investment in CIG was not made until December 2018. I should note that the appointments of Ezer Klein and Daniel Offner to the CIG board of directors on 23 May 2018 were likely connected to the $46 million investment the Calders made in 2018.

Another possibility is much more benign. With the current inflationary economy in the United Kingdom, which rose at a rate of 11.1% from October 2021 to October 2022, the leadership might have decided to pass out shares instead of big pay raises as compensation. By conducting a 10:1 share split to create over 11 million shares, employees might feel more appreciated at receiving 10 or 20 shares instead of 1 or 2.

Either way, the public is unlikely to find out the truth for a few months, if not for a year or two. For now, we just have a tantalizing filing announcing a 10:1 share split occurred in October.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Blizzard Entertainment And NetEase Parting Ways ... Almost

On Wednesday evening Blizzard Entertainment announced the suspension of services for most of its catalog of games in the People's Republic of China.

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it will be suspending most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase, Inc. on January 23, 2023. This includes World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Warcraft® III: Reforged, Overwatch®, the StarCraft® series, Diablo III®, and Heroes of the Storm®. Diablo Immortal® co-development and publishing is covered under a separate agreement between the two companies.

Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, covering the publication of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.

We will suspend new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will be receiving details of how this will work soon. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year.

“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”

Notably, the latest collaboration between Blizzard and NetEase, Diablo Immortal, falls under a separate agreement and service will continue uninterrupted.

Blizzard has faced switching publishers in China at the end of a contract before. In 2009, Blizzard switched from The9, the original publisher in the PRC, to NetEase following The9's failure to receive approval from the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

SHANGHAI, Apr 16, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTES) today announced that Blizzard Entertainment(R)'s World of Warcraft(R) will be licensed to an affiliated company of, Inc. in mainland China for a term of 3 years following the expiration of the current license agreement.

Both companies announced a partnership on Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft(R) III,StarCraft(R) II, and gaming platform last summer. Today's announcement further enhances the partnership between Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase and promotes a consistent level of quality and service in mainland China for all Blizzard Entertainment games involved in the partnership.

"We appreciate the enthusiasm that Chinese gamers have shown us over the years, and we've always worked hard, in collaboration with our partners, to ensure that these players receive the same high-quality service and gameplay experiences that we deliver in other regions," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "This new agreement with NetEase will support that goal for years to come, and we look forward to collaborating with them on a smooth transition for World of Warcraft moving forward."

"We are excited to be working with Blizzard Entertainment now on World of Warcraft in addition to Warcraft III, StarCraft II, and," stated William Ding, CEO of NetEase. "By combining Blizzard Entertainment's expertise in developing world-class games with NetEase's strength in online-game operation in China, I am confident that we will be able to deliver the best gaming experiences in the world to our players."

Of course, the new deal also increased Blizzard Entertainment's bottom line.

According to Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, the new contract with NetEase substantially increases Activision Blizzard's royalty rate on revenues from WoW in China. He estimates that with The9, Activision Blizzard collected a 22 percent royalty rate that translates into $50-$55 million annually based on recent subscriber figures. "Although the terms of the new arrangement were not disclosed, we estimate that the royalty rate will increase to at least 55%, and that the new arrangement will generate revenues of over $140 million annually,"

However, only allowing for two months to transfer publishing rights from The9 and NetEase was not enough to prevent a break in service. NetEase became embroiled in a bureaucratic battle between the GAPP and PRC's Ministry of Culture which prevented operation of the game. Despite acquiring the rights to publish WoW in April 2009, NetEase did not receive approval to operate The Burning Crusade, much less Wrath of the Lich King, in the PRC until February 2010. The Wrath of the Lich King finally launched in China on 31 August 2010.

The lengthy approval process for western video games to resume operation in the People's Republic after switching publishers still occurs. In July 2018, CCP Games, operator of EVE Online, switched publishers from Tiancity to NetEase, with NetEase to take over operations on 1 October 2018. But NetEase did not receive approval to operate EVE in the PRC until March 2020. The game relaunched in April 2020.

Given the previous examples of Blizzard's change of publishers for World of Warcraft in 2009 and CCP Games switch in publishers for EVE Online in 2018, we should expect some news of a new Chinese publisher for most of Blizzard's game catalog sometime in the next two weeks. But as for the ability of Chinese players to access their current accounts? Optimistically, that is months away.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Pearl Abyss Q3 2022 Earnings Call

Yesterday Pearl Abyss held an earnings call covering the third quarter of 2022. The South Korean company was able to report operating revenue of ₩97.3 billion, a 3.5% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) increase and a year-over-year (YoY) increase compared to Q3 2021 of 0.9%. 

After the payment of employee incentives last quarter, Pearl Abyss' operating profit returned to the black, recording a YoY increase of 17.6% up to ₩12 billion. Net profit declined 33.4% from the second quarter as profits were inflated in the previous quarter due to tax refunds.

In the third quarter, gaming revenue from Pearl Abyss' main gaming IPs, Black Desert and EVE, increased 4.5%, to ₩96 billion. Black Desert revenue rose for the third quarter in a row, with quarter-over-quarter growth of 3.1% and YoY growth of 8%. EVE IP revenue grew ₩1.8 billion from Q2 to Q3 2022, from ₩17.6 to ₩19.4 billion. The 10.2% increase was even worthy of a call-out by the Pearl Abyss executives on the call. However, when an analyst asked if the increased EVE revenue was what investors should expect going forward or just a one-time event, the executives ducked the question.

The executives had a good reason to avoid answering the question. Q2 2022 was the first full quarter after the big price hike in May. Pearl Abyss Iceland (more commonly known as CCP Games) converts all revenue to US dollars and reports that number to the company headquarters in Anyang, South Korea. From there, the figure is converted from dollars to won. Using the monetary conversion rates from on the last day of the quarter, the EVE IP made $13.6 million in the 3rd quarter, a 0.7% increase over the $13.5 million EVE Online and EVE Echoes took in from April to June 2022.

During the question and answer period, one of the analysts asked about commissions. While sales are up, the amount paid in commissions fell 22.3%, down to ₩16.6 billion. Pearl Abyss explained the decline was in large part due to the decline in mobile game sales. In the 3rd quarter, mobile revenue only made up 16% of Pearl Abyss' gaming revenue. In contrast, PC games now make up 77% of Pearl Abyss sales. Looking back to the first quarter of 2020, mobile games have made up a continuously shrinking part of the company's revenue as Black Desert Mobile continued to shrink. In Q1 2020, mobile games made up 54% (₩71.8 billion) of gaming revenue as opposed to 35% (₩46.5 billion) for PC sales. In Q3 2022, the numbers for mobile sales are 16% (₩15.4 billion) of PA's revenue vs PC sales making up 77% (₩73.9 billion).

A big topic of interest was the status of Crimson Desert. Pearl Abyss in the past stated that upcoming games like DokeV will not be published until Crimson Desert launches. The game was originally planned to have a Winter 2021 release date. However, the CEO refused to commit to releasing a gameplay trailer in the remaining weeks of 2022. He did reveal the company expects to release Crimson Desert sometime in the second half of 2023 and has approximately 50% of PA's 900 developers working on the game.

A rumor brought up by an analyst has hit the DokeV sub-Reddit, so I might as well report on it. One analyst brought up the decline of 59 employees from Q2 to Q3 2022. The loss of developers fell from 977 to 907. The executives tried to explain the drop to the end of an internship program that PA had mentioned on a call earlier in the year. Looking back through the records, the current employee totals are the lowest since Q1 2021.

Another analyst stepped up and asked about a rumor that the core development team for DokeV quit. I don't know where the rumor came from, but it did garner some attention. However, Pearl Abyss is aiming for a release of the game sometime in 2024.

A third game under development, Black Clover, also received some attention. First mentioned on the Q4 2021 earnings call, Black Clover is a game designed for the Japanese market based on the Black Clover IP. Originally announced to launch in the second half of 2022, the game release is now expected sometime in the first half of 2023.

Finally, Pearl Abyss told investors that the company continues work on Web3/blockchain technology in video games. CCP is still the studio working on implementing the tech, but will do so in a new game under development. The executives on the call noted the sustained negative feedback from players led to the decision not to try to introduce things like NFTs into CCP's current games.

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Cyno Is Now Lit

I wound up on r/eve last night reading a post from Katia Sae, the CEO of Signal Cartel. As often happens in a game nearly 20 years old, a player died in real life and the leadership of a player group needed to handle the final details of a players life in a virtual world. 

In EVE Online, players remember the real world dead with a tradition known as a cyno vigil:
Funeral rites are a long-standing tradition in MMORPGs, where player avatars gather together to show respect to fallen friends and enemies alike. In EVE, the tradition often involves what is called a “cyno vigil.” Groups of players gather in a set spot in ships equipped with a cynosural beacon. The in-game purpose of these beacons is to create a signal strong enough for massive capital-class vessels to use as navigation beacons, like a lighthouse shining into a dark night, showing the way home. These beacons ignite the liquid ozone stored in a ship’s hold to create a fire in space visible from light years away, creating a candle blazing in the darkness.

Sometimes hundreds of individual players attend these funerals, each adding their own candle flame to the vigil.

Mourners also attend after equipping their ships with harmless firework launchers, creating dazzling displays of color and noise. These players prefer to express their respects and grief with celebration and extravagance. Some even go as far as to offer their own vessels as a sacrifice in memoriam, either asking their attendees to destroy their ship, or self destructing them in viking-esque rituals.
A poem also exists to commemorate the passing of a player.
Eyes forward, capsuleer, the cyno is not yet lit. 

Consider your modules, your rigs and ammo before you undock, for the cyno is not yet lit. 

Break free of the station and witness the universe before you, For the cyno is not yet lit. 

Set your ship to fly through the vastness while you wait, For the cyno is not yet lit. 

Pay attention, capsuleer, for those who have gone before you call for you to join them. The cyno is now lit.
Perhaps ironically, the first search result on YouTube for They Cyno Is Not Yet Lit points to Katia Sae's channel.

For the cyno vigil for Zinov, a player who succumbed to kidney cancer on 11 October, the Signal Cartel fleet will depart the Zoohen III - Theology Council Tribunal at 1800 EVE time on Sunday, 6 November. The fleet will make its way to the Fallen Capsuleer Memorial at Molea II, Moon 1 for the can placement ceremony. As the fleet doctrine will be Signal's signature (at least in my time in the corp) hugs fleet, attendees should bring lots of fireworks. Afterwords, the fleet will wind up at Assez X - Moon 1 to hold a cyno vigil.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Makes $7.8 million In October 2022

Just a quick update on the continuing saga of Star Citizen. Without the massive stream of funding the company enjoys, Cloud Imperium Games will have to shut its doors without completing either Squadron 42 or Star Citizen. Fortunately for its customers, the money train continued to roll in October 2022. 

According to the crowdfunding spreadsheet, CIG made $7.8 million in sales in October, lifting the year's total to $82.4 million. Over the past 12 months, CIG's revenue based on ship and vehicle sales was $113.2 million.

Not all is going well for the company. Alpha patch 3.18 is still delayed and possibly will not reach the Persistent Universe until early 2023. Erin Roberts, the Global Head of Production and Chris Roberts' brother, reportedly let slip at a player meet-up that Squadron 42 is 2 years away from release. But with the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo running from 18-30 November, CIG's revenue will almost assuredly reach $100 million for 2022. Not bad for a game with 2 games still in alpha after 10 years.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Changes To The PLEX Price Of A Subscription In EVE Online

I have to admit sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake. Take for example the latest "price" change in EVE Online. When I first read the article, I thought CCP had decided to bow to the crowd and lower the price of subscriptions to the game. Instead, the South Korean-owned game company reduced the amount of work players needed to perform in New Eden to gain the same benefits as subscribers.

Economical Capsuleers,

The New Eden Store now offers a wider range of Omega than ever before, allowing you to get Omega for less PLEX.

As well as the existing 1-month and 12-month Omega packs already available, pilots that swing by the New Eden Store will now find 3, 6 and 24-month options. To account for the new Omega amounts, the PLEX pricing of Omega has been adjusted.

The introduction of the new Omega options and the new pricing means a wider range of per-month savings are available. In short, the more you spend in PLEX, the more you save off the full monthly cost of Omega. The discounts are as follows:

  • 1-month: Full price
  • 3-month: 20% off the full monthly cost of Omega
  • 6-month: 30% off the full monthly cost of Omega
  • 12-month: 40% off the full monthly cost of Omega
  • 24-month: 45% off the full monthly cost of Omega

Upgrading to Omega lets you unlock your full potential through new skills, faster training, and access to 350+ ships. So, make sure that next time you play EVE Online, you check out what the New Eden Store has to offer!

I found the announcement rather strange. Why not put the amounts of PLEX in the announcement? Was the CCP marketing team trying to lead people who didn't carefully read the article into believing the price change also involved paying with real world currency? For those used to working for their Omega time by playing the game, the post was probably obvious. I've never PLEX'd1 my account, though, so the wording threw me off. I didn't realize the amount of PLEX required to buy Omega time was changing and not the real world price.

The new prices in the New Eden Store

For those who don't want to do math before purchasing Omega time with PLEX, the breakdown is:

  • 1-month: 500 PLEX
  • 3-months: 1200 PLEX
  • 6-months: 2100 PLEX
  • 12-months: 3600 PLEX
  • 24-months: 6600 PLEX

The price of Omega time, in USD

Since the marketing team gave the percentage discounts for purchasing Omega time in USD.

  • 1-month: Full price
  • 3-month: 20% off the full monthly cost of Omega
  • 6-month: 25% off the full monthly cost of Omega
  • 12-month: 37.5% off the full monthly cost of Omega
  • 24-month: 43.5% off the full monthly cost of Omega

The decline of the Interstellar Kredit against the US Dollar

Now, if I were the cynical type, I would suspect the change in the exchange rate between PLEX and Omega time is an attempt to shore up the value of ISK. Despite CCP raising the U.S. dollar price of PLEX by 25% on 17 May, the price of ISK versus the USD has declined by 23.4% since the beginning of 2022. Thus, someone buying 5 billion ISK through the approved PLEX process paid an average of $65.75 on 1 January but only $50.35 on Saturday.

Given the poor financial news from the second quarter of 2022, CCP probably would like to see the price to purchase ISK rise the rest of the year, not fall. I see the reduction in the PLEX price of Omega time as an effort to reduce the ISK price of PLEX. The lower the ISK price of PLEX, the more real life currency EVE's wallet warriors will need to pay CCP to buy ISK to replace their losses. The company has tried rising prices directly to temporarily keep prices higher. Perhaps an indirect approach benefiting the work-to-play segment of the player base will have more success.


1. "PLEX'ing your account" is what players call working in the game for subscription benefits instead of paying real life currency.

Friday, October 7, 2022

EVE Muddles Through The Launch Of WotLK Classic

Last week I wondered how the launch of Wrath of the Lich King Classic would affect player activity on EVE Online's Tranquility shard. Would a highly disgruntled player base do what it did in 2019 when they flocked to play on the World of Warcraft Classic servers? Or was the disgruntlement overblown and would they stick around and fly internet spaceships?

To be fair, this year the developers offered players more than the *cough* awesomeness *cough* that was Blackout. On 29 September, CCP launched the Empire Frontiers patch which offered new story events in both the Caldari-Gallente and Amarr-Minmatar war zones. The event also offered early access to the 8 new faction navy ships that will appear in the Uprising expansion in November.

In addition, the Alliance Tournament season began on Saturday with the Trials Tournament. The Trials is a play-in tournament for the Alliance Tournament for those alliances that failed to automatically qualify for the main tournament. The last weekend of the Trials is the weekend of 8-9 October.

The big question though, is, did EVE Online experience a massive exodus with the launch of WotLK Classic? To answer the question, I looked at the week-over-week change in the number of peak concurrent users (PCU). For the first few days after the launch of WotLK Classic, the PCU did drop, although not precipitously. The largest drop occurred on the first full day the servers were open. Notably, the daily PCU never dropped below 20,000.

Then, a funny thing happened. Even before the first full week was out, PCU counts began rising. To me, a sign that the player dissatisfaction wasn't nearly as great as during Blackout. I guess you can't believe everything you read on the EVE Online sub-Reddit. Imagine that!

I don't want anyone to believe that I think EVE is in an entirely healthy state. As seen by the ACU chart above output by Ripard Teg, the concurrency numbers declined in September. While not unprecedented, a September decline is, to use the technical term, a bad thing. And while EVE survived the launch of WotLK Classic, CCP really needs to see the concurrent user marks increase in October. The developers are trying, but can they succeed? I think that's the question everyone wants to find out.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Star Citizen Stumbles To $5 Million In Sales In September

In September, Cloud Imperium Games recorded four thousand dollars short of $5 million in sales for Star Citizen and Squadron 42. For the year, the CIG recorded $74.6 million in sales on its publicly facing funding page. Oh, and during September, CIG reached over $500 million in sales for the 10 year history of the project.

The Star Citizen money machine stumbled at the end of September, however. From the start of the year to 20 September, CIG had only failed to record $100,000 in sales for a day once, $97,462 on 27 July. But in the ten days following CIG reaching $500 million in sales, the highest amount recorded in a single day was $90,616 on 24 September. The last time CIG failed to raise at least $100,000 a day for 10 days was from 28 July to 6 August 2021.

I didn't anticipate the slowdown in funding after the milestone amount was reached. Perhaps with Citizen Con and the accompanying ship and vehicle sales led to a pause as players wait for deals. Or perhaps players are unhappy about the lack of new content. Patches for Star Citizen usually come out every three months or so, and CIG released patch 3.17 on 29 April 2022. The last I heard, patch 3.18 has not reached Evocati testing and is due out in mid-November.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A Telling Week For EVE Online

Today is a special day, as we get to witness the first full day a new generation experiences Wrath of the Lich King

The launch of Wrath of the Lich King Classic

For some companies, the competition isn't scary. The example that comes to mind is Final Fantasy XIV. The game's producer and director, Naoki Yoshida, actually urges players to take a break when they begin feeling burned out on the game. With patch 6.3 due out in December, now might be a good time for players to dip over and play what many, if not most, consider WoW's best expansion. If they don't like the game, well, patch 6.25 comes out in three weeks or so.

FFXIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida

On the other hand are games like EVE Online. Two of the metrics CCP Games uses to determine the health of the game is daily active users (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU). If players decide to take a break, the bosses begin to panic. And, in some sense, so do the players.

Courtesy of Jester's Trek

Not only is the activity on the Tranquility global shard the lowest it's been in the last four years, but is lower than any year over the past 16. Lately the decline as stopped and the average number of players logged in over the past few weeks has increased. With the release of new ships imminent and the first expansion in years due in November, the situation is beginning to look up for EVE players.

In 2019, EVE experienced a backlash by players fed up with the changes occurring in the game. The studio's leadership continued to tout the unpopular moves and when the original WoW Classic servers opened up in late August, activity suffered. A lot. The picture of how much damage became clearer when Pearl Abyss published revised revenue figures for EVE at an investors' earnings call in May 2020. The Pearl Abyss leadership also made the following statement at the time.
EVE Online is also maintaining stable performance. EVE Online -- which was known as the most difficult MMO game -- had the most important challenge, which was to motivate the interest of early users. Using Black Desert know-how and experience from EVE Online, many improvements were made. And accordingly, we saw a meaningful increase of new users. EVE Online, which is in its 17th year of launching, shows through many indexes that a well-made MMO game has a very long lifespan value.
The situation is not quite the same today, however. Back in 2019, the studio's top developers either didn't realize, or didn't care about, the player discontent. In contrast, CCP has dropped ideas like including unpopular monetization mechanics like non-fungible tokens and loosened up the economy. Will players look at the improvements and an expansion on the horizon and not turn to the latest shiny? Or is New Eden about to experience another massive player decline? The rest of the week will give us a hint about the future.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Star Citizen And Cloud Imperium Games Reach $500 Million In Sales

Last last night I refreshed my browser and the Funding Stats counter on the Roberts Space Industries website reached $500 million.

$500 Million Achievement Unlocked

Cloud Imperium Games incorporated in April 2012 and launched a Kickstarter on 18 October 2012. I highly doubt anyone thought the single player Squadron 42 and accompanying Persistent Universe would still be under development 10 years later, especially after raising a half a billion dollars. CIG itself estimated delivery of the game in November 2014.

The Initial Star Citizen Pitch Video

Things didn't quite work out with the timing. The amount of money CIG raised so early wound up contributing to feature creep. What initially was a spaceship game became one with a huge first person shooter component. 

CIG doesn't depend on the ship and equipment sales recorded on its funding site. Total known income since October 2012 so far is:
  • Ship/equipment sales: $500 million (through 20 October 2022)
  • Subscriptions: $22.8 million (through 31 December 2020)
  • Other income: $44.7 million (through 31 December 2020)
In addition, CIG has received a total of $63 million from South African billionaire Clive Calder and his son Keith's Snoot Entertainment. The first phase of the investment, $46 million, was originally targeted for marketing Squadron 42 for a summer 2020 release. CIG missed that date also.

But despite all the delays, the money machine known as Cloud Imperium Games marches on. May Chris Roberts one day delivered a finished product and make thousands of players' dreams come true.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

A Shopping Center In My MMO?

Running around Final Fantasy XIV, I thought I'd seen everything in the form of player housing. From 21st century kitchens to 17th century Japanese style homes. I've eaten at a small Starbucks style cafe in my apartment building to visiting a tavern with a live music played by a bard and big hamburgers. The music venues range from discos to a copy of the old Tunnel nightclub in New York City.

A popular item at the launch of Endwalker

But last Thursday I encountered something from a movie. Someone had set up a free company house and turned the building into a shopping center. The house has 15 rooms and most of the space was occupied.

The Forum Shopping Center is built around The Swaggin' Wagon Department Store. Taking up 8 of the rooms, the concept is a bit wild. Each room has a theme, ranging from casual glamour all the way to crafting and gathering gear. The selection is limited by the number of mannequins available plus the 100 item per room limit, but the idea is nicely executed.

What is a shopping center without someplace to eat? That's right, the shopping center has a restaurant called Lil Lyne Mheg Cafe. When I went in, the place was dimly lit with a bard playing on the stage. Have to have the music, right? When purchasing food in an establishment in FFXIV, the prices are a bit high, but that is to help pay for the total role play experience. If you want a place to stick around, buying something from the owner and talking a few minutes helps a lot.

What's a shopping center without specialty shops? The Forum Shopping Center has three. The first one I visited was Time To Dye. The shop goes well with the department store, as people generally like to dye their clothing if they don't have a glamour plate ready. If Tiny manages to expand his dye supply, I can imaging some players searching him out when the Fashion Report goes live every Friday. Too bad the place is officially only open on Thursdays.

The second specialty shop is Eben's Toy Kingdom. The store specializes in stuffed animals and plushie type items for your in-game homes. When I walked in, the room was filled with them. I didn't realize for a few moments that I could buy things.

The final specialty store is Greenhearth Apothecary and Gardens. The shop spans two rooms, with the Gardens a place to buy indoor items. I've seen some of the items, like the Indoor Oriental Waterfall and Indoor Pond, in other people's homes. I personally can vouch for the Planter Partition, as I've used a few in my apartment.

The Apothecary section is the first time I've seen someone selling food and beverages in a shop for actual raiding/crafting/harvesting use and not as a form of roleplay. I have to wonder if the owner is combining a little roleplay with their crafting.

Next comes one of my favorite places, Steamy Ventures. The place is a complementary onsen for people to gather and relax after running around the shopping center. Having built a second floor in an apartment, I have to say the onsen is very well designed. The first floor has two changing rooms, each with a shower. Stairs lead up to the second floor, which has 6 hot baths, three lined up along each side. I wasn't sure exactly what to do, since The Forum Shopping Center is a safe-for-work environment but nudity is mandatory in real life onsens. I played it safe and switched to the bathing suit I use when spear fishing.

Finally, no place in FFXIV is complete without a photography studio. The shopping center has its own place, Peach Pelegrino Photography, to pick up a few gpose shots done by someone with a lot more skill than I have.

Despite writing a bit more than I have lately, I don't have a financial stake in The Forum Shopping Center. No, I just found an unusual place and thought I'd share. Amazing what players can do if given some tools, isn't it?

Friday, September 9, 2022

Uprising - The Next Major EVE Online Expansion

On Wednesday CCP gave a name to the expansion it teased at Fanfest: Uprising. Why the switch back to expansions? Who knows? Did CCP fear a backlash if the company continued to try to implement non-fungible tokens into EVE? Or did the replacement of Pearl Abyss CEO Jung Kyeong-In with Heo Jin-Young in March 2022 indicate a general change of direction away from the blockchain, NFTs and play-to-work schemes at Pearl Abyss? Whatever the reason, CCP's Hilmar Veigar P├ętursson announced in April that NFT now stands for "Not For Tranquility". 

If I were the cynical sort, I'd say CCP spent the month between the NFT announcement and Fanfest thinking up replacement content for the originally planned blockchain/NFT/play-to-work updates. I'd also say the scramble to present alternatives to the player base gave CCP Aurora the opportunity to push her ideas about factional warfare to the forefront. At least, the leadership at CCP seems satisfied to give her the credit for the idea. Of course, if the changes go wrong, the leadership seems willing to let her take the fall. Another reason to root for the success of the expansion.

The expansion is based around a revamp of the factional warfare feature. Introduced in the Empyrean Age expansion in June 2008, the feature really hasn't seen a lot of attention from CCP since the Inferno expansion in May 2012. In August, CCP issued a dev blog and produced a one-hour stream to update players on the new system.

One of the interesting themes is that all the features introduced in Uprising is just an introduction. In addition to the factional warfare upgrade, the developers will introduce the first steps of the Heraldry system.

Alongside this big shake up of combat strategy, opportunities to earn rewards that unlock Heraldry on ships will be made available. Corporation and alliance logos on ships will act as the introduction to Heraldry, with many more customization options on the horizon following this initial launch such as citadel SKINs and holograms on ships.

Oh, and did I mention new ships? Not a lot of details about those, but we may see new ships introduced for the first time since the introduction of EDENCON ships in the Lightning Strikes patch in June 2020.

CCP is promising an increase in information as we approach the launch of Uprising. Hopefully the hype train can pull players back to the game. Because at the end of August, the number of players in the game rivaled the low point of Blackout.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Rakes In $5 Million In August

For the first time in 2022, Cloud Imperium Games failed to set a new record sales total for a month. Last month's total of $4.96 million was $350,000 shy of 2020's sales of $5.32 million in August. Still, the total was still over $320,000 more than last year's total.

The company developing Star Citizen and Squadron 42 is still on pace to easily surpass last year's total of $86.4 million in sales. Through the end of August, the company had recorded sales revenue of $69.7 million in 2022. During the 12-month period running from 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2022, CIG brought in $113.3 million. The company is well on its way to surpassing the $100 million mark in 2022.

As of the publication of this post, CIG is less than $3 million shy of $500 million in sales listed on its website. The Kickstarter campaign for Star Citizen began in October 2012. The company should reach $500 million well before the tenth anniversary of the launch event.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Pearl Abyss Q2 2022 Earnings Call

Pearl Abyss held it's quarterly earnings call for the second quarter of 2022 yesterday. The South Korean game maker experienced a 2.8% increase in revenue compared to the first quarter of the year. Year-over-year, revenue increased by 6.2%, up to ₩94 billion.

Taking into account the strengthening U.S. dollar, Pearl Abyss revenue declined by $3.3 million (-4.4%) compared to the first quarter of 2022 and $6 million (7.7%) compared to Q2 2021.1

The profits for the second quarter look a little strange. For the second year in a row, Pearl Abyss ran an operating loss in the second quarter of the year. The executives on the call explained that the company runs an employee incentive program in which Pearl Abyss spent ₩8 billion, including ₩7.5 billion in treasury shares.

The net profit of ₩32 billion, or 34% of the company's revenue, seems unusual considering the operating loss. Pearl Abyss explained that ₩18 billion of the profit came from tax refunds. The figures also were related to financial gains due to currency valuations.

For the second quarter in a row, Black Desert revenue increased, this quarter by 4.8%. Year-over-year, Black Desert revenue increased 5.8%. The Black Desert IP usually gains revenue when Pearl Abyss takes over publishing in a region. With the company now publishing in South America, Pearl Abyss now publishes Black Desert Online globally.

The intellectual property experiencing the biggest declines is EVE Online and EVE Echoes.  EVE revenue declined by ₩600 million compared to the first quarter, or 3.3%. When converted to U.S. dollars, the decline was $1.5 million, or 10%. Going back to Q2 2021, EVE IP revenue declined year-over-year by ₩500 million, or 2.8%. But when won is converted to dollars, the quarter-over-quarter decline was $1.5 million (-10%). Compared to the second quarter of 2021, the decline was $2.5 million, or 15.6%.

The big EVE news was the disclosure Pearl Abyss plans on opening a new server for Chinese users in Q3. A dev blog was released on 15 July with the details on the move, with a better translation posted on the EVE Online sub-Reddit a day later. If the move works in China, would CCP start a second server in the rest of the world?

The only other news was the lack of updates on Pearl Abyss' upcoming titles. The investment analysts did hear that the company plans on releasing an in-game video trailer sometime before the end of the year for Crimson Desert. Other than that, the company may not launch another game until 2023.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

It's Asher's Alliance Now

And a war that should have been over in weeks took another 6 months. I was specifically told I was not allowed to attack, that all I could do was camp. Because even though we had one of the greatest moments in the history of wars in Eve Online there was a still a 5% chance of failure. And that 5% chance of failure was too much of a risk to lose our merchandising and our subscribers. The goal was not to win, it was only never to fail.

- Asher Elias, Goonswarm Federation Executor, 28 July 2022

With the fall of The Mittani from the leadership of Goonswarm Federation and The Imperium, a lot of people have celebrated. Some are disappointed I did not jump on the bandwagon and mindlessly support everything posted on the EVE Online sub-Reddit. Sorry, but relying on that pit of misinformation for accurate news is folly.

But I am about to break that rule. Why? Because The Mittani's replacement, Asher Elias, posted his first speech as the executor of Goonswarm Federation there. With no reliable sources of information available to cover the fall of The Mittani and what follows, I decided to listen to what sources friendly to The Imperium have to say. I recorded the words of Brisc Rubal and Merkelchen on the first The Meta Show episode following The Mittani's resignation. I think Asher's first speech to the alliance is also worthy of recording for posterity.

Hi friends. I haven’t come up here to read you a typical talk about the alliance and what it needs this week, I don’t have an itemized list from each department with bullet points to hit. Instead, I have come to talk to you about Eve Online. I think every one of us can think of another game that if you want to have fun for 60 minutes easily blows Eve Online out of the water. But if I asked you about a Halo match you had 5 years ago you couldn’t tell me a single thing about it. However if you get some Eve nerds sitting around the digital fireside you can bet that they will start waxing poetical about a fight that happened, 5 or even 10 years ago. They will fondly remember their FC and call out the time that they saved the day by landing that scram or the time their titan died and they reshipped into another titan and jumped back into the same fight. I’m an Eve romantic because of those chats around the fireside. There may be a million other games that are better to play but there none that are better to experience. Eve is the game that we tell stories about. Eve is the game where we fondly remember our comrades that we fought with and hope they are doing well, wherever they are in life.

But as time goes by we started getting bitter. It’s easy to start building up anger at this game and at our enemies. We’ve seen how the sausage is made. Everyone here has an idea for how to improve things and we’ve all been frustrated when what we would like to see change doesn’t happen. But, we have also been part of the problem. There’s a problem in video game design where if you let the player sit around and build up their walls and their weapons they will do it in such a way that they will never attack until they have no chance of failure. Until they’ve optimized every last bit of fun out of the game. How many of you here who played Age of Empires or Starcraft can say you didn’t do exactly that. When the game let you, you made your army so big that by the time you finally attacked your CPU foe they had absolutely no chance. And after you did that there was this brief, tiny moment of happiness as you watched the enemy fall so swiftly. But it’s like playing Grand Theft Auto with all the cheats on, it’s fun for about an hour then you get bored.

In our last war, World War Bee, we fought in M2- and we did what every player seeks to do. We utterly destroyed the enemy. We had their titan fleet trapped, we had their morale destroyed. And did we take advantage of that? No, we decided that instead of threatening their keepstar exit route we would sit in that same system for months ineffectually camping them in. Our intel after the war told us that our enemies were shocked at this, they were ready to crumble and they thought we would surely attack their keepstar in NPC Delve and they knew that once we did - they would have to leave.

But we didn’t do that, we let them rebuild their shattered morale. And a war that should have been over in weeks took another 6 months. I was specifically told I was not allowed to attack, that all I could do was camp. Because even though we had one of the greatest moments in the history of wars in Eve Online there was a still a 5% chance of failure. And that 5% chance of failure was too much of a risk to lose our merchandising and our subscribers. The goal was not to win, it was only never to fail.

And to me that was a betrayal. The amount of time that everyone had put into the war was immense. People made sacrifices of their friendships, their money, and their personal lives. I remember friends inviting me to see a movie on Friday night but I would turn it down because I needed to be within sprinting distance of my PC at all times in case the enemy attacked. And when I was told that we couldn’t finish the war it spoke volumes to me about what was more valued, the time and lives of the people who run it or the smallest of chances of failure of the empire. It wasn’t right. But I stayed on, I finished the war at great personal cost, and I didn’t say anything negative. I just told people I was taking a break because I didn’t want to threaten to tear apart the group that I care about, so I just waited for the right time.

And now that time is here, this is our time. It’s time for things to change. If you joined Goons because you wanted to have a totally safe titan until the day you quit the game of boredom then this is no longer the place for you. It was easy in the past to sit behind our player erected walls and have our leader insult our enemies based on the things they did out of game, based on who they were. The policy, unspoken but ever-present, was to make them so angry at us out of the game that they had to attack us in the game. This is corrosive, and it’s no way to run an alliance.

From now on we will make people dislike us because we evicted them from their space. Because we made them move three times. They will want revenge because we fought them not because we made fun of how their leader looks. You will get the chance to be part of the stories that people tell about this game. You will have the chance of incredible victory or the chance to experience failure. It’s time we start pushing in the chips that we’ve gathered. You bought a super? You built a titan? It’s time you had a chance to use those not to shoot an undefended fort but to shoot their guns in anger. To become the story.

In Eve you can’t vote for an alliance executor. But there is a truly powerful way you can show your endorsement of a leader. You vote with your feet. And I’m going to ask you to vote for me. Eve Online is a game that delivers greater experiences than any other game but it also demands more sacrifices. And when you are staying up that extra hour late even though you’d rather be sleeping because you work tomorrow your alliance leader won’t be missing it because he’s got other things to do. He will be right next to you in fleet.

So if this is the future you want for Goons, the future you want for the Imperium, I want your endorsement. I want you to resub that capital account. I want you to show up to fleets in greater and greater numbers. Be there next to me - we will create those memories, those stories together. There was a time when every one of you was a romantic about this game but slowly you lost it. You took on the title “bittervet” and you bore it proudly like armour so that no one could accuse you of loving it and make a fool of you for liking it like you once did. If you ask me if I’m bitter about Eve Online, about Goons and the Imperium. No, no I’m not. I’ve fought with every one of you and all I remember are the good memories. How can you not be romantic about Eve Online? So I thank you for the trust you’ve given me, and I ask you to be a romantic about Eve Online, about Goons, and the Imperium again with me. I’ll see you in fleet.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Sales Hit $5.9 Million In July 2022

Cloud Imperium Games exceeded $490 million in overall sales in July, selling $5.9 million in virtual goods last month. The monthly figure was high for a July, exceeding the $3.2 million figure in July 2020 by 84%. So far in 2022, CIG brought in $64.7 million.

In July, CIG introduced a technical improvement with increased server capacity. In update 3.17.2 released on Thursday, the server cap increased from 50 to 100 characters. I normally don't comment on technical news, but after 10 years of development, the ability to have 100 players play together is noteworthy.

Monday, July 18, 2022

The Mittani Steps Down

Folks in the chat have been attacking us saying we are both apologists. No, we’re not apologists, we are apologizing. There is a difference. We’re not trying to hand wave away what happened. Everybody involved in this process understands completely what happened wasn’t okay and it needs to be fixed, period. Things like this can’t happen again.

- Brisc Rubal, The Meta Show, 15 July 2022

I have said for years now that if the Goons were defeated in EVE Online, the causes for the defeat would come from within. The Imperium's last major defeat in The Casino War occurred due to infighting within Imperium member SpaceMonkeys Alliance. The conflict between the owner of IWANTISK and his alliance leadership eventually led to Eeep financing a war against his coalition. The result was the collapse of several Imperium alliances and the removal of The Imperium from the galactic north in 2016.

The latest political shockwave to damage The Imperium also came from within. The Mittani has resigned his positions as head of Goonwaffe and as head of The Imperium. The event was announced in an alliance ping and a post on the Goonsfleet forums.

My people, I’m afraid that the sheer amount of smears being flung my way across the galaxy are simply too much to handle at a personal level. The fact that my divorce, the loss of my dog, and a terrible number other of outright lies and falsehoods have been heaped on top of each other has resulted in me becoming simply too radioactive to continue leading Goonswarm without my presence being a net negative for the wider tribe.

The accusations that I am aware of are unsubstantiated falsehoods, and I did not sign up to be the scapegoat for the entire galaxy. You deserve better in leadership than having to continually be confronted with MITTANI MAN BAD day in, day out; I, and my partner, deserve better than to wake each day to find some new horrific slander being levelled against me. The only honorable thing to do is exit in an orderly fashion. I have transferred shares to Xttz and will be making TheAdj Interim CEO of Goonwaffe.

A challenge of this position – sitting in the Big Chair – is that the entire rest of Eve Online feels that they can, without boundaries, restraint, or evidence, fling all kinds of shit at the leader of GSF. I do not envy my successor, but hope that my exit will clear the way towards a better future.

It has been a tremendous honor to serve you these past 12 years as CEO. We have, together, built the greatest and most interesting space empire in the history of the internet, and then we have beaten the entirety of the rest of the game with it in the greatest war in the history of the internet. Your successes, your friendships, your community, and the bonds we have formed with one another through all of the madness that is Eve Online will be memories I will keep forever.

As I transfer roles and hand assets over, the current team will continue stabilizing the organization. They have been hard at work and information and announcements will be coming. Please bear with them as they have been trying to both build new systems and improve processes, while managing a very challenging and complex situation. Please be gentle with them.

As for me, I am going to touch some grass and smoke some weed. It’s been an honor and a privilege~

The story of the fall of The Mittani is too big not to give some time to cover. My problem is what can I use as a source of information? The EVE sub-Reddit is out as a source. Yes, a lot of the stories swirling around were on r/eve. The problem is, the EVE sub-Reddit is full of misinformation in the best of times. And that is what I say when I feel charitable.

As I've said for years, r/eve can suck the desire to play EVE out of a player faster than an officer-fit Bhaalgorn can drain the capacitor from an Atron. I don't say that just due to the negativity found on the sub-Reddit. I also believe r/eve is a huge anchor on CCP and EVE Online's popularity due to the types of posting I see. Will people post lies on Reddit to improve their position in the game? Yes. Will people post lies on the sub-Reddit accusing people of horrendous crimes in order to gain revenge for in-game activities? Also yes. EVE is a game where players go way over the line in the types of behavior decent people should engage in. The EVE sub-Reddit is a distilled form of that toxic behavior, made worse by the amount of players who no longer play the game hanging out on the site. In short, friends don't let friends visit r/eve.

So where to turn to? Would you believe The Meta Show? Yes, the Twitch stream often acts like a branch of The Imperium's Ministry of Truth. But even with The Mittani acting at his worst, the show is a lot less toxic than r/eve. (Admittedly, being less toxic than r/eve is a very low bar to clear). With the former space emperor no longer on the show, what would a Goon-friendly source say about the recent events? On Saturday, the show resumed, hosted by long-time host Brisc Rubal and Karmafleet CEO Merkelchen. I'll quote extensively from Saturday's show because the most sugar-coated story should come from that source.

I'll start with Brisc's opening.

Today, July 16th, 2022, the news of the day. Probably the biggest news we’ve had in EVE Online in quite a long time. The Mittani, one of the most well-known players in the history of EVE Online, has resigned as alliance leader of Goonswarm Federation and coalition leader of The Imperium. This follows a week or more of some of the toughest times I think we have seen in this game in quite a long time. Allegations of sexual harrassment, allegations of the mishandling of complaints, allegations of all kinds of things in the community, real life and in the game. 

Many of you didn’t think we were going to do the show today. Many of you didn’t think I was going to show my face or that I would come on here and defend The Mittani. Many of you thought we were going to just sweep this under the rug and that nothing would change and nothing would happen. But I think it is obvious based on what has happened in this community over the last week that this is absolutely something that we need to talk about and it is absolutely something we need to make sure never happens again.

I probably need to point out that some subjects are taboo to discuss on Twitch and YouTube. Things like pedophilia. Given some of the chatter on the Internet, "allegations of all kinds of things" is probably as close as we can expect a streamer not sure of the limits to go in describing the situation.

Next comes Brisc's soapbox segment. I'm not going to post the entire thing, but most of it will get the message across.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the last week we have seen what I think many players in our community would consider some of the most toxic behavior they have ever seen – in game, out of game – and it has come from players that you all know, players that we have all played with, people we have known in real-life and friends. This community has done what I have thought was not possible and has almost torn itself to pieces. And it is happening at a time in EVE Online when the game is in as rough a shape as it has been in the last 20 years. 

Every night on Rampage Inc, Merk and I take a look at the number of people playing and it is in the 13 thousands and the 14 thousands where just a year ago it was in the 30s. This community needs some work, folks. Let’s be honest. 

Now, what have we seen over the last week? We have seen accusations. We have seen call-out threads. Reddit has turned into – everyday something else breaks to the point where people are very concerned - that they don’t even want to look at it. They want to walk away from the game. This community is too toxic. It is the worst community they have ever seen. No wonder no one wants to play this game because look at how we treat each other. In real life and on the forums and on Reddit and elsewhere. 

We’ve seen threats of physical violence. We’ve seen, “Don’t come to an EVE meet because I’ve got a lot of fists ready for ya.” Yesterday, as you all may have known, someone emailed my work, letting them know, “Are you aware that Brian Schoeneman, the political and legislative director for this union, is on a talk show with a person who’s been accused of sexual mismanagement?”

I’m used to this. It is not the first time it has happened to me. Many, many famous EVE players have had things happen similar to me. In my time I’ve had death threats. I’ve had people mail things to my house. Someone mailed a pair of ping-pong balls to my house because apparently I needed to get a pair. And on more than one occasion people have called my office. They’ve called my wife’s office. Someone called my wife’s office and let the receptionist know how much of a piece of shit I was. This community oftentimes shows the worst of what we can see on the Internet. 

Now, that being said, I want to talk about some other things I’ve seen from this community. On Rampage Inc this community has raised more than $10,000 for charity. I have seen through the PLEX for Good campaigns, this community has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to benefit refugees from the war in Ukraine, to benefit folks displaced by the wildfires in Australia, folks who were impacted by tsunamis in Indonesia, natural disasters around the world. I have seen the best of this community. I have seen people fighting COVID by playing this videogame. I have seen people reach out to one another in times of trial and trouble and tribulation. I have seen the good that the Broadcast4Reps group has done. I have seen people rush to the aid of a player in Vegas who fell, not because he was drunk, but because he had a health issue. And I’ve seen at EVE meets from Fanfest to Vegas to elsewhere friends helping friends get around when they’ve had a little too much, making sure they get home safe. I have seen this community come out when players have passed away. I’ve seen us run GoFundMe’s for funerals and to help the families of those we’ve lost. 

Many people would say after this week that this community is in very rough shape and it needs a lot of work. And what I would say to them is a paraphrase of one of the best statements I have ever heard from an American president. There is nothing so wrong with the EVE community that it cannot be fixed by what’s best of the EVE community. 

All of us own each other just the basic ordinary human dignity of being kind. Treat others as you want to be treated. If someone in your fleet is being racist, mysogynist, sexually harassing others, stand up to them. Tell them that behavior is not okay. There is no place in this game for racism, misogyny, sexual harassment, any of those types of behaviors. No one should be felt to be ashamed because of their sexual orientation. No one should be made ashamed because of where they’re from or what they look like. 

We have to be better as people, and it starts – not with CCP, not with alliance leaders – it starts with each and every one of us deciding that we are going to be better people…
I'm sure some would like to see all people in Imperium leadership kicked immediately from the game, ensuring The Imperium's collapse. Putting on my cynic's hat, I don't think CCP will commit economic suicide in that way, even assuming a mass punishment is warranted. 

I understand why some people watched The Meta Show and felt a lot of deflection occurred. A lot did. But I believe a lot more contrition occurred than the critics give credit for. And since the apologies give some sort of scope to the issues, I'll post some more.

This segment came from Brisc about some of the past content of The Meta Show.

I see people in the chat saying, “How can you say something like this when this show when this show has been purveying hate for blah, blah blah, blah blah.” And you have Olmeca on Twitter saying “these guys are all attacking everything.” 

I have tried on this show to keep it in the game. I know that this show has failed many times to keep it in the game. And that Mittani and myself and others have crossed lines that many of you have thought were too far. And for that I want to apologize. If you thought what we were saying was too much, was too hard, it was too far across the line. That it was impacting someone in real life you have my absolute sincere apology. That was never our intention. 

Our job on this show, our goal on this show is to be entertaining and to talk about things that are happening on EVE Online, and because so many of us play this game so much that it becomes a second job or a hobby or part of our lives. For many of us we’ve been playing this game for 16 years or more – 20 years. Not having EVE Online in our life is not something we ever want to contemplate. And I know that means it is very easy to get very too attached. It is easy to get very angry and very frustrated – or very whatever you want to say – and go off and say things and do things you otherwise wouldn’t do. 

If we have offended someone – and I know we’ve offended Vily, I know we’ve offended Gobbins, I know we’ve offended many people we’ve talked about over many years on this show – and they all have my apologies. And I think as part of everything we are doing we have to do a better job. And we’re going to keep it in the game and when we talk about stuff on the show, yeah we’re going to have fun, we’re going to tease people. We’ll talk a little trash. But it’s not personal. It’s part of the game. And I hope that folks will understand that. And I hope we can keep the rest of the stuff in the game as well. 

But the reality is the last week or so has been pretty bad. And I don’t think anyone wants the game to fail. I don’t think everyone wants everybody to walk away from it. But we are in danger of that happening if we can't clean up our own messes. 

I mentioned Merkelchen was on the show but haven't quoted him yet. When asked about what leadership was doing to clean up the mess and prevent another situation like the current fuck-up, he replied:
A lot of things are happening obviously, right? You kind of touched on it. Some of the messaging is, in retrospect, incredibly embarrassing and humiliating and I can’t believe we ran with some of this shit as long as we did. We’re trimming those hedges outright because it is easy, it’s quick. We are making sure that people understand what things are okay and what things are going to be not okay. 

Little more detailed and obviously significantly more complicated is when you’ve got as many people as some of these groups do, it’s not like your old WoW raiding guild where it’s 20 people, you all know each other intimately well. It’s easy to say, “Hey, we’re going to agree to do this one thing and do it. When you’ve got thousands, tens of thousands of people getting mashed together and interacting in hundreds of different places whether they’re private channels, squad and SIG channels, a Discord over here, a Discord over there, whatever, it starts to get really really complicated. 

We spent a few days sort of circling the wagons and trying to figure out, okay what’s objective #1? A safe and inclusive community. We want to have that. We desire to have that. I think a lot of us – I’m one of these dipshits and I’ll eat that – thought we had one. Only to realize as these conversations have gone on this week that we were coming up very short on that front. 

All hope is not lost though. Just because we failed at something doesn’t mean we have to keep failing at something. We’re going to get this one right. I guarantee it. Nobody scales up shit like we do. It’s our specialty. We will bring forth a system that can handle this and can make everyone feel comfortable with where they are. So that stuff has been going on in the background... 
I know a lot of people don't want to hear what Goons intend to do to fix the situation but more about what happened. Sorry, but I figure I need to put some of what is proposed, if only to look back and judge how Goonswarm and The Imperium responded. Merkelchen added more details to the Goonswarm response:
Ideally what we want the end goal is an independent organization outside of the leadership structure that exists already. Our leadership structure is great at winning wars, at keeping jump bridges fueled, at making sure your athanor’s moon drill is where it needs to be, etc. It’s not a human resources department. It’s not a conflict resolution department. These are not people who have training or skills in interpersonal relationships or interactions, etc, etc… 

This group will work external to the organization itself. It will be staffed by people who are not in the leadership of the organization. A human resource department typically works in the interests of the company, not to go all Fortune 500 on you, but if you are talking to your human resources department rep the odds are they are circling the wagons around you basically. They work for the company and they want to keep the company out of legal trouble. 

That is not the goal in this situation whatsoever. The goal in this situation is resolve conflict, maintain the dignity of the membership, and make sure people have a place they know they can go to anonymously report problems in the organization. 

There’s a couple people in leadership who are sort of going to be adjunctsent [sic] to this group, because they have to be. On the developmental side people who can press the buttons, people who can pull into the database, people who can moderate the forums. You have to have a couple of folks like that available to this group such that they can execute their work. But I can tell you the plan is nobody’s above the law, anybody can be reported, and we’re going to just see how it goes. It’s not going to be perfect when it launches. We’re going to look to the first group of people. We’ve tried to really pull in a diverse group of people to staff this thing out of the gates. And just kind of let them come back and say, “We need X, we need Y, we need Z”, stuff like that. So they can work their way through these conflicts and ideally they will handle these things from beginning to end…
I'm not sure if I will continue tracking the story of what exactly happened. The aftermath? I can't help but do that. But for now, I'll leave this post to mark one of the major events in the history of EVE Online.