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.

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