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.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Pearl Abyss Announced Shut Down Of Shadow Arena

The sunsetting of underperforming games at Pearl Abyss-owned studios continues. The South Korean game maker posted an announcement on Steam Friday that its Black Desert inspired battle royale game Shadow Arena would close operation on 10 August 2022.  The statement also appeared on the Shadow Arena website.

Greetings, this is Shadow Arena.  

Shadow Arena was first showcased at G-Star in November 2019. After completing the fourth CBT, it was released as early access on May 2020. Since then, we've walked a journey accompanied by players for 2 years and 8 months. 

Shadow Arena made its first debut as content in Black Desert. However, we decided to make Shadow Arena into a separate spin-off title and worked towards establishing it as a new kind of “action battle royale” for players who enjoy PvP games. 

Despite our efforts to introduce various elements to the game, we thought that Shadow Arena in its current state was inadequate in offering a unique experience. With deep consideration, we regret to inform you that the service of Shadow Arena will be terminated.

We would like sincerely thank all the players who have been in support of Shadow Arena as we deliver this news. 

Pearl Abyss also announced a shutdown schedule.
July 8, 2022 (Fri) 11:00 (UTC+9)

■ Game Download Unavailable 

- Downloading the Shadow Arena Client be unavailable via official website and Steam store.  

- Game service through previously downloaded client will be available until the service termination date.  
 

■ Termination of Gcoin Purchases 

- Gcoin purchases on the official website and in the Steam store will be unavailable.  
 

■ Shop Clearance Sale 

- All items in the shop will be available for 1 Silver. 
 

■ Final Season Begins 

- Final season’s Battle Pass rewards will be significantly higher than before. 
 

August 10, 2022 (Wed) 11:00 (UTC+9)

■ Game Service Termination 

- The game service through the official website and Steam launcher will be unavailable.  

 

■ Official Website Service Termination.  

- Shadow Arena’s official website will be terminated. 

- All posts on the community page will be deleted after termination.  

- Make sure to save any information you wish to store on your PC.  

- Customer Support regarding the refund process will still be available after service is terminated. 

- Users may create Pearl Abyss ID even after the service ends. 

 

■ Official Social Media and Community Channel Termination 

- The following official social media channels of Shadow Arena will be terminated. 

- Official Youtube, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, Discord

- The Shadow Arena Steam Community will be terminated. 
Combined with last week's news about CCP shutting down all of its legacy virtual reality games brought over with the Icelandic company's sale to Pearl Abyss in October 2018, one can safely say the leadership of Pearl Abyss is closing all marginal financial operations.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

EVE Online Concurrency At Lowest Level Since Blackout

The latest average concurrent users graph from Jester is out, and the news is not good, if not unexpected. At the end of June, the seven day average reached 17,000. 

The past 12 months

The difference between this year and last is in 2021 the numbers bottomed out during July. This year, the number of average users is poised to fall to 16,000. The 10% drop in concurrent logins due to sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine certainly doesn't help matters.

2019 and The Chaos Era

The big factor that might inhibit a healthy comeback during the northern autumn season is the price hike implemented on 17 May. While the price increase may protect CCP's financial situation, fewer players in space may lead to more bored players. I've stated this for about a year now, but EVE really needs a proper expansion in order to maintain and perhaps even grow the player base. The company basically promised one by the end of the year. Hopefully we'll see something worth celebrating.

Monday, July 4, 2022

CCP Shuts Down Its VR Titles

The day finally came. CCP Games will no longer support its virtual reality titles EVE Valkyrie, EVE: Gunjack, EVE: Gunjack 2, and Sparc on 5 August 2021. The end of the line was obvious to all with the sale of CCP's Newcastle studio to Sumo Digital at the end of 2017.

Announcement of a dead game on dead forums

I'm not sure how much CCP spent to keep the game servers up, but apparently more than the games brought in. One thing we know for sure, however. With no new games on the horizon, we'll soon know just how EVE Online is doing financially. Probably in 2022.


Friday, July 1, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Brings In $10.3 Million In June

Cloud Imperium Games, the makers of the not yet released games Star Citizen and Squadron 42, brought in almost $10.3 million in June 2022. For the first half of 2022, CIG received $58.7 million in starter packages, ship sales, and other digital purchases. Early this morning, the funding page reported total sales reached $485 million since October 2013.

The months of July through September are usually the weakest sales months for CIG. Last year, the company made under $12 million during the 3rd quarter. In 2022 though, I think CIG has a chance to reach $500 million in total sales by the end of September.

Monday, June 20, 2022

The CSM 17 Election Results

On Thursday, CCP announced the results of the election for the 17th iteration of the Council of Stellar Management. The winners (and the round of the election simulation they were elected) are below:

  • Angry Mustache - Goonswarm Federation (Round 1)
  • Arsia Elkin - Electus Matari (Round 34)
  • Brisc Rubal - The Initiative. (Round 1)
  • Jinx De'Caire - Brave Collective (Round 34)
  • Kazanir - Goonswarm Federation (Round 1)
  • Kenneth Feld - Pandemic Legion (Round 1)
  • Luke Anninan - Fraternity. (Round 1)
  • Mark Resurrectus - Turbofeed or Glory (Round 34) 
  • Pandoralica - The Initiative. (Round 33)
  • Storm Delay - Pandemic Horde (Round 28)

Turnout this year was 30,814 votes, a decline of  19.1% from CSM 16's 38,086 votes. Even when taking into account the player decline since the end of World War Bee 2/Beeitnam War, interest in voting is down. The average player user count during the CSM 16 election was approximately 20,000 accounts. During the election this year, the ACU number hovered around 18,000 for a decline of 10%. An alternative explanation is that many players, instead of abandoning the game, have switched from paying Omega accounts to free-to-play Alpha accounts. So instead of a loss of interest in the CSM, CCP lost even more money from its corporate wallet.

The results pretty much went as expected. Seven of the seats went to members of the five largest sov holding alliances in EVE. The eighth winning candidate from null sec, Kenneth Feld, is from the 12th largest sov holding alliance. The ninth winner, Arsia Elkin, is an incumbent. Incumbents tend to win, even those best known for role playing and factional warfare. The final winner, wormholer Mark Resurrectus, finished 12th last year and was primed to win with the collapse of Test Alliance Please Ignore following last year's war.

One of the questions I ask of potential CSM candidates is whether they can attract 1000 first place votes and over 2000 total votes. In the 10-year history of CSM elections conducted using the single transferrable vote system, only three who reached this number failed to win a seat: Nathan Jameson (1616/2430) and Banlish (1213/2173) in the CSM 8 election and Sort Dragon (1500/2321) in 2019. All seven candidates who achieved these numbers won this year.

One of the stories CCP tried to create on its streams was Pandoralica's popularity across the EVE player base lifting him to victory. But did Pando really come from far back to claim victory? Actually no. After the first round, Pando was in 12th place.

  1. Kazanir (met quota, elected)
  2. Angry Mustache (met quota, elected)
  3. Luke Anninan (met quota, elected)
  4. Kenneth Feld (met quota, elected)
  5. Brisc Rubal (met quota, elected)
  6. Storm Delay - 2551 votes
  7. Mark Resurrectus - 1468 votes
  8. Jinx De'Caire - 1343 votes
  9. Arsia Elkin - 995 votes
  10. Torvald Uruz - 862 votes
  11. Alasker - 746 votes
  12. Pandoralica - 744 votes

Pando had passed both Torvald Uruz and Alasker at the end of round 11 and the winners gradually pulled away for the win. Compared to the CSM 12 election, when Yukiko Kami came back to win a seat in the final round, this year's election was downright sedate.


Monday, June 13, 2022

Why I'm Not Excited About Voting For CSM 17

Today is the last full day for EVE Online players to vote for the latest edition of the Council of Stellar Management. Voting ends at downtime (1100 UTC) on Tuesday. CCP has set up a voting page where players can vote for up to 10 candidates.

I spent years covering CSM elections. But after the election of CSM 14 in 2019 I realized that with the introduction of the single transferrable vote system, the big null sec alliances were basically guaranteed 7-8 spots, with low sec, wormhole, and high sec candidates fighting over the last 2-3 seats.

The year 2019 is also noted for an important event in the history of EVE: Blackout. One of the main purposes of the CSM is to serve as a sounding board to keep CCP from doing dumb things. Needless to say, the system somehow failed.

2019 was CCP's worst year over the last 10 years

I believe 2022 is a year in which nothing the CSM can say or due will prevent the developers from making major moves I will absolutely hate. We already know CCP plans to sell internet spaceships directly from the cash shop
MADE BY PLAYERS FOR PLAYERS

A new program will soon be introduced allowing you to manufacture or purchase items, making them available for other players to purchase. Players who participate will be rewarded with heraldry, which unlocks many cosmetic items that help you establish your individual and alliance identity in New Eden. This is all aimed to lean into EVE’s player-driven economy and provide more avenues to participate in the economy, and be rewarded.
The above is the plan CCP Swift told players about when CCP removed the Prospector's Pack from the cash shop. Can the CSM do anything about the plan? I don't think so.

In the upcoming year, CCP will do many things. The big issue for me is monetization. When CCP announced they were doubling down on selling ships in the cash shop, that signaled to me the developers will do whatever they think will bring in the most money. Nothing the CSM can say will have an effect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Cloud Imperium Games Earns $20.7 Million In May

Just a quick post to record the remarkable month Cloud Imperium Games, the makers of Star Citizen and Squadron 42, had financially in May 2022. The month recorded the second highest month in ship & equipment sales in the 10 year history of CIG, registering $20.7 million. The catalyst for the revenue growth was the annual Invictus Flight Week ship sale with $14.8 million in sales over the 12 days of the event. Last month's revenue was only topped by the $21.5 million recorded in November 2021.

Through the end of May, the counter on the Roberts Space Industry website has increased $48.6 million so far in 2022. Over the 12-month period of 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022, the amount publicly recorded increased by $104.8 million, cementing itself as the #1 sci-fi MMO, at least financially. No wonder other game companies are proceeding with their own plans to sell internet spaceships

Overall, the known total income reported by Cloud Imperium games over its 10 year history is $542.2 million split into three categories:

  • Pledges/Counter: $474.7 million (through the end of May 2022)
  • Subscriptions: $22.8 million (through the end of 2020)
  • Other income: $44.7 million (through the end of 2020)

When including the $63.2 million in minority investment CIG accepted in 2018-2019, the total funding for Star Citizen and Squadron 42 so far is $605.4 million.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

EVE Online's New Heraldry System Could Use A Touch Of Yoshi-P

Back in March, a kerfuffle occurred around CCP selling a package in the EVE Online cash shop that included a Retriever mining barge. The protests against selling internet spaceships directly for real world money like Star Citizen reached Twitch before finally subsiding. The protests faded when CCP Swift published an announcement CCP was pulling the Prospector Pack from the cash shop. His statement included the following passage.

One of the topics for Fanfest is a new project that we’re in the middle of developing, that will transform these and any future packs - a paradigm where packs of this type will be supplied by players, ensuring that any ship we offer to new players through sales, will have origins from actual player work in New Eden: Made for new players, by veterans. This feature will also not only supply each ship from the player base but allow the community to influence which ships will be put in these packs.

In effect, CCP intended to still sell ships for real world money, but would give players a chance to get a piece of the action. The move worked with selling ISK for money (PLEX) and skill points for cash (skill extractors/injectors), so why not ships?

At Fanfest CCP unveiled the heraldry system. In truth, they just announced an intention to create a new system that players might like. On day 1 of the event, we received a hint of what was to come.

HERALDING IN A NEW ERA OF IDENTITY AND SOCIAL INTERACTION

You will soon be able to display your unique identity and loyalty proudly on your ships and hangers through alliance logos, visual changes to your ships, holograms that reflect your social standings, killmarks, structure skins and other customizations attainable through InterBus credits, a new in-game currency.

InterBus credits can only be earned in game. They can never be traded between Characters, sold and do not have a fixed exchange rate to any other currencies.

A nice beginning, but watching the keynote, I had the feeling the new system would involve a bit of monetization. The day 2 news article went into further detail.

MORE ON HERALDRY AND INTERBUS CREDITS

The coming heraldry system lets you show off your achievements by displaying logos, visual changes to your ships, holograms that reflect your social standings, killmarks, structure skins and other customizations. You’ll be able to purchase those items with InterBus credits, which are earned by doing activities in-game. Those activities could be as simple as a daily challenges or events, or something more complicated. In almost every case, the activities will be focused on the social and interacting with fellow pilots.

To go along with this there’s a new unified fitting window coming that will combine heraldry and modules.

We’re also aiming to establish strong, healthy corporations, giving their members plenty of activities and goals, while providing more tools for corps to recruit, train and retain new pilots as they grow their member base.

We’ll also be helping corp leaders streamline their corp’s activities by making InterBus credits, taxable (though they won’t be tradable). We’ll also be giving corporations the tools to automate these arduous bookkeeping tasks with two optional taxes, LP Tax (on earned LP) and Value Tax (on sold goods on the market), in addition to the new Spreadsheets in Space tool mentioned in yesterday’s keynote that exports data directly from EVE into Microsoft excel.

This is all to help strengthen corporations in New Eden.

I think one of the most asked questions was: why not put these items in the cash shop? The answer came in the next section of the day 2 article.

MADE BY PLAYERS FOR PLAYERS

A new program will soon be introduced allowing you to manufacture or purchase items, making them available for other players to purchase. Players who participate will be rewarded with heraldry, which unlocks many cosmetic items that help you establish your individual and alliance identity in New Eden. This is all aimed to lean into EVE’s player-driven economy and provide more avenues to participate in the economy, and be rewarded.

Yes, the plan to sell spaceships directly from the cash shop became clear. Players would acquire or build ships and trade them for InterBus credits to get the sweet, sweet heraldry items. CCP will then sell the ships in the cash shop for real world cash.

I would really like options to obtain heraldry items without engaging in primary market real money trading. CCP is still working through what the system will eventually look like. I expect to hear something in 5-6 months from now. Hopefully CCP isn't too proud to look at other games for ideas. 

I think my current primary game, Final Fantasy XIV, does a good job with its Free Company system. Free Companies (FCs) are FFXIV's name for guilds or corporations. The game has a version of InterBus credits called, simply enough, company credits.

Company credits are used to increase a Free Company's rank as well as buy perks for the FC and its members. Credits are earned by performing the following activities.

  • Inviting New Members
  • Crafting anything High Quality
  • Gathering anything High Quality(?)
  • Undertaking supply and provisioning missions with your Grand Company
  • Completing FATEs
  • Completing Duties
  • Completing Quests
  • Earning Achievements

Basically, most any basic gameplay function an FC member does earns a free company credits. The system never shows player the credits they generate, so their is no sense of loss. Also, the system incentivizes FC leadership to maintain an active FC. The more active the FC, the more credits generated.

Players get more from the generation of company credits than the ability to put the FC's crest on their gear. FC leadership can purchase buffs that affect all members for 24 hours. The buffs range from increasing experience in combat, crafting, and gathering to buffing stats associated with those activities. Probably my favorite buff is the transportation buff that reduces fast travel fees by 20-40%, depending on the rank of the buff. That one buff can save players thousands of gil every week.

I realize CCP's effort is a work in progress, but I am concerned about this statement. 

You’ll be able to purchase those items with InterBus credits, which are earned by doing activities in-game. Those activities could be as simple as a daily challenges or events, or something more complicated. In almost every case, the activities will be focused on the social and interacting with fellow pilots. [emphasis mine]

Focusing on the social and interacting with fellow pilots is CCP language for PvP activity. I get the feeling, especially since the beginning of 2019, that CCP would like people to play EVE a certain way. I fear people who shy away from PvP and don't join fair sized groups probably won't get much out of the new system. If those people leave the game, well ... CCP didn't want those type of players anyway.

I really hope that CCP follows the philosophy of FFXIV's Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida. Final Fantasy XIV tries to provide content for everyone, even PvPers. He decided to make the game more friendly to solo players in an effort to make FFXIV welcoming to more Final Fantasy fans. 

If Yoshida is still looking to reach out for more players, hopefully CCP will do the same. I know the top leadership of CCP thinks EVE should attract a certain type of player and wants to cater to those people. Hopefully certain important people learned with Blackout in 2019 that abandoning the so-called carebear is financially harmful. We'll find out with how CCP handles the new heraldry system.

Monday, May 23, 2022

MMORPGs Are A Marathon, Not A Sprint

A lot of players are complaining now, but EVE Online really is a remarkable game. How many games last 19 years with continuous development? Thanks to Croda of marketsforISK, we have financial records for CCP and its successor, Pearl Abyss Iceland, going back to 2012. 

Game revenue, mostly generated from EVE Online

Over the last 10 years, games using the EVE IP, primarily EVE Online, generated $636 million in revenue. Last year's $63.8 million was slightly over the 10-year average of $63.6 million. Of course, 2021's revenue includes $10 million from EVE Echoes. But EVE Echoes was not the only other game besides EVE Online published by CCP. Since 2014, CCP published DUST 514, EVE: Valkyrie, EVE: Gunjack, and Sparc.

While we don't have records for 2003-2011, I think I can safely say the EVE IP has generated over $1 billion, if EVE Online itself hasn't recorded $1 billion in revenue since its launch in May 2003. Given CCP's beginning as a small indie studio founded on a rock in the middle of the North Atlantic, creating a $1 billion IP is a pretty good accomplishment.

If people think EVE Online is sick and in danger of dying, then what do we say about New World? The Amazon Games' game started out strong, with a peak of 913,027 users at least trying to log into the game on the first day. Much better than EVE's all-time peak of 65,303 on the game's 10th anniversary. But seven months after launch, New World's numbers were lower than EVE's.

EVE Online vs New World yesterday

Yesterday, New World has a high water mark of 22,779 accounts. EVE-Offline.net recorded a peak concurrent user number of 27,401 on the Tranquility shard for EVE Online. Including the Chinese Serenity shard would push the number over 30,000.

As for sales, how is New World doing? According to VG Insights, Amazon Games had sold 6.8 million units for $162.9 million. Pretty good money, surpassing what EVE Online has made for Pearl Abyss. The question is, how much longer will New World keep going? The game's monetization is limited to cosmetic items with no subscription options, so sales of units needs to continue. 

Slowing sales for New World

According to VG Insights, Amazon has sold 35,000 copies of the game over the past 30 days. At an estimated $37.56 per copy, that runs to $1.3 million. As a comparison, the EVE IP averaged $5 million per month in the first 3 months of 2022.

One final comparison. Yesterday, nine years after EVE's peak concurrent user mark, yesterday's PCU was down 58%. New World, on the other hand, was down 97.5% from its peak concurrent users set 7 months ago.

Ideally, player logins increase after launch of a new MMORPG. In EVE's case, player numbers grew for 10 years. But after only 7 months, New World had declined to a point below EVE's numbers after 19 years. Apparently, EVE is making more money now as well.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Pearl Abyss Q1 2022 Earnings Call

Some view the world like the glass is half-full. When looking at the results of Pearl Abyss' first quarter 2022 earnings call, an optimistic person might say the South Korean game maker did better than expected. Two analysts wrote their expectations for the call on BusinessKorea last week:

Pearl Abyss is expected to have posted sales of KRW88.8bn (-12.0% YoY,-24.7% QoQ) and operating loss of KRW1bn (negative swing YoY and QoQ, operating margin of -1.1%) for 1Q22. The company should have swung to a loss owing to sales drop and labor cost hikes from new hires, despite declines in marketing spend and other expenses. Sales likely fell QoQ due to high base effect created by Pearl Abyss Capital’s one-off investment gains booked in 4Q21.

Pearl Abyss didn't do quite that poorly, as the slide below shows.

Okay, Pearl Abyss brought in ₩91.4 billion ($75.5 million), beating expectations by 3%. But after the one-time revenue claim from Pearl Abyss Capital at the end of 2021, revenue was expected to plummet from the last quarter of 2021. And while drops in operating profit and net profit fell off a cliff, at least PA had profits to claim.

Gaming revenue rose in the first quarter, up 4.3% from the Q4 2021 total of ₩85.4 billion ($72.7 million) to ₩89.1 billion ($73.6 million). Before continuing, I need to explain why the U.S. dollar total only went up 0.1% instead of 4.3%. The South Korean won is weakening against currencies like the dollar, British pound, and Chinese yuan. In the rest of the article, the won to dollar valuation is calculated using the exchange rate on the last working day of the quarter as found on Xe. So as we can see, the dropping value of the won is boosting Pearl Abyss' profits.

We can do the same with Black Desert IP revenue. Year-over-year, Black Desert revenue dropped from ₩82.9 billion ($73.2 million) in Q1 2021 down to ₩70.9 billion ($58.6 million) in Q1 2022, a 14.5% decline in revenue. The Black Desert IP did post a quarter-over-quarter gain of 5.8%, from ₩67 billion ($56.3 million) up to ₩70.9 billion ($58.6 million).

The EVE IP revenue looked very steady over the last year, with revenue rising 3.4% from Q1 2021's total of ₩17.6 billion ($16.2 million) up to last quarter's ₩18.2 billion ($15 million). Oh, oh. Now we can really see the effects of the weakening won. If converted to U.S. dollars, the 3.4% year-over-year gain turns into a 7.4% revenue decline. 

Continuing on, EVE revenue remained "steady" from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022, only falling 1.1%. Even doing the won to dollar conversion doesn't show a big drop, as EVE brought in ₩18.4 billion ($15.5 million) in the final quarter of 2021.

At this point the pessimist takes over. With revenues inflated by the steadily weakening won, what are Pearl Abyss' plans to increase revenue? The April launch of Black Desert Mobile in China was disappointing not only to the analysts on the call, but to Pearl Abyss as well. From the tone of the call, the real possibility exists that Pearl Abyss will launch no games in 2022.

The analysts tried to get the Pearl Abyss leadership to let them know if Crimson Desert would launch in 2022. The answer was basically, "You'll find out when we tell the public." Listeners on the call were also told that the studio was concentrating on Crimson Desert, which means DokeV most likely will launch after the Black Desert spin-off. One analyst even asked about the upcoming Black Clover mobile game mentioned on the February earnings call. Despite telling analysts three months ago the game would launch in the second half of 2022, the analyst could not get Pearl Abyss to confirm if the timing still held.

About the only big news that might happen in 2022 is Pearl Abyss self-publishing Black Desert Online in South America. The move would mean the South Korean studio would now self-publish around the globe. Perhaps more importantly, every time Pearl Abyss self-publishes BDO in a region, its revenues increase for a time.

New Pearl Abyss CEO Jin-young Heo did answer a question about the future of Pearl Abyss. Below is a transcription of the translated answer.

You also asked us about the direction of our new business going forward. And we are planning many things. For example, we have DokeV that uses the metaverse platform as well as others that use the web 3 platform so we are seeing the market trends. And to successfully launch Crimson Desert in line with the Western biggest market, the console market, and also to make DokeV into a metaverse platform and to showcase this to the market. And to have a new project which I have before mentioned, using the current market trends of blockchain and web 3.0 using the EVE IP. So we believe as a game development studio we are going to focus more on these and that will be our task going forward. 

I would love to get a transcription of the Korean language portion, as I believe subtle but important differences exist. For example, in the passage above, the translator used the term "EVE IP", while the CEO used the actual term "EVE Online." Korean and English speakers may walk away from the call with two impressions of what Pearl Abyss plans for the future. 

In today's trading, Pearl Abyss stock declined 6%, finishing the day at ₩57,500. So far in 2022, Pearl Abyss stock has declined 57.1% in value.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Feeling Down About Fanfest

Today is the 19th anniversary of the launch of EVE Online. I have held at least one subscription to the game since August 2009. That's right, I have played through two-thirds of EVE's history. Between the subscription fees and all the EVE meetups and conventions I've attended, I estimate spending between $35,000 and $40,000 on my hobby. While CCP received less than 20% of the total, I have spent quite a lot over the years.

Speaking of travel, I have gone to Iceland to attend Fanfest seven times. I went every year from 2012 to 2018. CCP did not hold a Fanfest in 2019, and my trip in 2020 was cancelled due to the emergence of COVID-19. I started a new job in February so couldn't get the time off to attend this year.

I do have to say, that in all my time playing, this year is the most underwhelmed I've felt at the thought of the news about to come out of Reykjavik from CCP's flagship convention. I started the year wanting to play more EVE following completion of FFXIV's Endwalker expansion MSQ in December. That lasted until March and the news of Prospector's Path and the Prospector Pack that sold Retrievers in the cash shop. Looking back, that was a gut punch. I still fiddle around with planetary interaction, but I really need CCP to come out firing at Fanfest to rekindle my interest in New Eden.

The only problem is, I don't see any indication that we will see CCP release a major content patch following the convention. Or that CCP will make any major announcements over the weekend at all. If they do plan on doing so, they are keeping the news secret.

I find the lack of news disturbing. On 11 April, we have seen a promise to not bring blockchain technology to Tranquility. Two days later, CCP revealed "Siege Green" on the Singularity test shard. So we see some numbers change on Upwell structures. Big deal. Okay, removing the hull reinforcement timers may wind up a big deal. But I don't see an expansion level patch in our near future.

So, what would get me excited? First, that CCP is about to incorporate Hadean's Aether Engine into EVE to allow a huge increase in the number of players who could participate in fights. Did I mention in the last test, the Aether Engine used Unreal Engine 4? Maybe at the same time the developers increase server capacity, they can port our current characters into Unreal Engine and finally get rid of the last vestiges of the Carbon engine.

Next, a full revamp of the mission agent system. Making the PvE in EVE much better would benefit any plan to turn EVE into a play-to-earn game. Forget players like myself. Such a move would make Pearl Abyss investors very happy. The financial world knows our Korean overlords in Anyang could use the boost.

Finally, in this "in case of emergency, break glass" moment, I would love to see a way to finally reach Jove space and run into another race. Not a human-type race like we have today. An actual, alien race. Barring that, I would love to see Triglavians become a playable faction.

Those are my hopes and fears for what we will see tomorrow during the Fanfest keynote address. CCP needs something big. I can hope, right?

Monday, May 2, 2022

Another Record Breaking Sales Month For Cloud Imperium Games

Last week the gaming industry experienced a lot of bad financial news. Everything from Activision Blizzard missing its expected sales of $1.8 billion by $320 million in the first quarter, to a 30% drop in stock price for Pearl Abyss, the news was poor. But the week ended with Cloud Imperium Games bringing in historically high revenue for the month of April.

The figure on the Roberts Space Industries funding page increased by almost $7.7 million in April, finishing the month at $454.2 million. The figure was the best April for CIG in its 10-year history, surpassing 2020's $4.1 million. Total revenue for the first four months of 2022 was $27.7 million. According to the unofficial Crowdfunding Development Spreadsheet, CIG raised nearly $97.5 million from 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 for the development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42.

Readers have asked why concentrate on the funding amounts. What about the game play? The features? The vision. Let's face facts. All of those things are nice to know when a game is about to launch. But currently we are looking at a possible release of Squadron 42 in 2024 and Star Citizen in 2026 or 2027. We don't know the development status of Squadron 42, and Star Citizen is still in early alpha.

One thing we do know is that CIG does not have enough money in the bank to complete development of the project. Here is the amounts raised by CIG so far.

  • Ship/equipment sales and game packages: $454.2 million (thru 30 April 2022)
  • Subscriptions: $22.8 million (thru 31 December 2020)
  • Other income: $44.7 million (thru 31 December 2020)
  • Outside investment: $63.2 million (thru 31 December 2020)

At the end of 2020, CIG had $63 million in the bank, but had spent $80.8 million that year. For all the dreams of players to come true, the company needs to continue cranking out ships to sell at very high rates. Currently, CIG is on pace to reach $100 million in sales in 2022. Hopefully that is enough to forestall layoffs until the company can open up another revenue source by launching Squadron 42. But watching the coffers fill up in real time is a bit of slow motion drama I find interesting.