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.