Wednesday, November 22, 2023

What Players Of Two Sci-Fi MMOs Can Be Thankful For

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. The holiday celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. But in the case of two video games, Star Citizen and EVE Online, fans of each game are celebrating different things. 

First for Star Citizen. In March 2023 CIG released patch Alpha 3.18, a very buggy and unoptimized bit of software I believe was pushed onto the Persistent Universe to avoid complains of 10 months of a content drought. Players showed their dissatisfaction by holding onto their wallets in both the second and third quarters of 2023. By the end of September revenue recorded by the CIG API showing sales from the cash shop was down 11.5% for the first 9 months of the year.

But then October and CitizenCon came around. Two big pieces of news came out of the event. The first was the debut of server meshing which apparently was theoretically solved two weeks before CitizenCon. The other is the news Squadron 42 is feature complete. The idea that Cloud Imperium is on the cusp of launching a finished product in the next year or so had to come as a big relief to those who purchased the game years ago. What they purchased isn't a scam and the gaming press had to report as such.

Will the solution scale to handle the hundreds of characters Star Citizen's loyal player base longs to see? Is the gameplay in Squadron 42 as good as the game looked in the trailer? While we won't know the answers to those questions for at least a year, players have to give thanks the questions are realistic and can't be brushed off as copium.

Perhaps players of EVE Online had even more good news whether their game was concerned. Following talk of adding NFTs and play-to-earn technology followed by a 25% subscription increase, the average number of players logged onto Tranquility during October 2022 fell to under 16,000. 

Then, something extrodinary happened. The leadership of CCP stopped chasing after flavor-of-the-month get rich quick schemes in EVE and set the developers to producing solid expansions like they did during the first decade of EVE's existence. The Uprising expansion in November 2022 produced the first boost to the number of accounts logged onto Tranquility. The Viridian expansion launched in the summer of 2023 and kept the traditional summer from slump from cutting deep into player counts. 

And Havoc? The past weekend was the busiest in terms of players logged in since October 2020 at the beginning of the Beeitnam War/World War Bee 2. Over the first week of Havoc, the average concurrent number of users was approximately 25,000, a more than 50% increase over October 2022.

As both Star Citizen and EVE Online go through November, they each are holding a major event that sums up why each player base should feel thankful. Currently Star Citizen is holding the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo 2953, an in-game event promoting the sales of expensive equipment for real world money. Between the ship sales surrounding CitizenCon last month and the sales during the IAE, Star Citizen sales are actually ahead of last year's sales at this point of the year. If the revenue continues at the current pace, the likelihood of layoffs slowing down the development of the project decrease significantly. If for no other reason, the Star Citizen fan base should at least give thanks that development time won't slow even more.

As for EVE, the launch of the Havoc expansion occurred 10 days ago. The measurement of choice to determine the health of the game is average and peak concurrent users. As of today Tranquility has experienced a daily peak concurrent user number over 30,000 for 12 consecutive days, with over 40,000 on Sunday. Players, at least for now, are excited about pirate insurgencies. New ones often attract more players and generate more player deaths than anywhere else in EVE. As mentioned before, the average concurrent user mark for the week is around 25,000. The more players logging in and flying around in space, the more interactions occur, including PvP. Something I think a lot of players are thankful for.

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