Sunday, December 31, 2023

What's Up With The Missing CIG 2022 Financial Statement?

I planned on ending the year writing a post about Cloud Imperium Games' financial statement for 2022. Instead, at 6pm Manchester, UK time, I am posting about the lack of a financial statement. A very unusual occurrence at this point. The question I have is, why did the makers of Squadron 42 and Star Citizen fail to post the information to their website on time?

Before continuing, I want to state two very important rules one must use whenever looking at the actions of CIG leadership.

Occam's Razor: When we have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

With those two rules in mind, I can think up a few embarrassing reasons. The web techs didn't put the post on the timer, or the timer didn't work. Of course, that would mean no one followed up to make sure the post appeared. In my life, that usually involved security certificates. Or DNS. When in doubt, blame DNS.

A reason I would find completely believable is someone at CIG tried to revamp the statement format in light of the Turbulent acquisition and ran out of time. Someone at CIG add requirements to a project and then miss a deadline? Typical CIG if that is the explanation.

A third possible reason is circumstances changed. Not posting financial information when not required is perfectly reasonable. All of CIG's investors have a seat on the board of directors. If the company is not looking for additional outside funding, then not putting out any additional information hurts anyone.

I have blogged about Crowd Control Production's financial statements for over a decade. They also had periods where the authorities required the company to post financial records on one of its websites and then when no longer required, removed the documents. No problem, right?

Well, a problem does arise when the company incorporates the disclosure requirements into its marketing. CIG did so with the initial round of venture capital investment announced on 20 December 2018. In disclosing CIG's financial results from 2012-2017, the company stated:

Since the beginning, Cloud Imperium Games has always been vocal about the idea of building our games with the support and input of our community. This accounting for the years 2012 to 2017 is in line with our policy of openness and transparency and intends to share how the company has grown based upon what we have received during this period and the work required to meet the demands inherent in such an undertaking.

To put further complications into the picture, one of those times those interested in CCP's financial reports could not obtain them was the year Pearl Abyss purchased the Icelandic game studio. But I want to throw up one big caveat. CCP was very good about trying to file all their financial paperwork in with Iceland's version of the IRS in April, 8 months before the drop dead date where sanctions began. 

CIG, by contrast, tends to file their previous year's returns in December. Last year the company filed on 22 December, 10 days before the deadline. The way CIG handles its finances, they don't leave room to withhold information like CCP did. Therefore, playing games with potential investors theoretically is less likely.

CIG's marketing team possibly have put the company in a hole. Where is the report? Is this CIG hiding something? See where people may violate Hanlon's Razor? Of course, I've written about EVE for over 14 years now. I have seen my share of cases where the people and events I've documented were motivated by malice or something else dark. The fact I don't think CIG reached its financial goals for the year 2023 doesn't help. But for now...

The financial report will likely show up by Friday with an innocent explanation. I think.

Friday, December 29, 2023

My Predictions For 2024

One thing I haven't done in several years is make a predictions post for the following year. I'm going to try to come up with something coherent covering 2024. I don't know a lot of games well, but after 14 years I might know what CCP is thinking for the year ahead. Plus I have some ideas about other games in the genre as well as companies I follow. Let's see how big a fool I can make of myself.

EVE Online - If any game gives me hope for optimism in 2024, it is the one developed in the northernmost capital city on Earth. As a sign of confidence, my first prediction is that a volcano will not destroy CCP's new Reykjavik studios.

The next prediction involves low security space. The developers spent the last 18 months or so trying to revive gameplay in the long neglected security band in the game. With continued emphasis in the next two expansions, low sec will record more player ships killed than in null sec in 2024. No, I'm not predicting something never before seen. During the Golden Era of Low Sec, players suffered more ship losses in low sec from 2013-2015. I think CCP can allow low sec residents the crown once every 9 years or so.

Ships. I don't make a secret of my belief that Project Awakening is just EVE migrated to a new set of servers to do Web 3.0 things. Which means CCP needs to upgrade EVE to advance Hilmar's blockchain dreams. As such, I predict the developers will spend 2024 filling out the missing ship classes in the pirate factions. Rejoice, as I believe we will receive 10 ships in 2024. The ship classes and factions are:

  • Angel Cartel: Dreadnought, Carrier
  • Blood Raiders: Destroyer, Battlecruiser
  • Sansha's Nation: Destroyer, Battlecruiser, Dreadnought, Titan
  • Serpentis Corp: Destroyer, Battlecruiser

Honestly, I would love to see CCP add command ships and marauders to the Triglavian ship line, but I don't think the story will progress in that direction in 2024.

EVE: Vanguard - Since the roadmap only runs through June, I'll predict that CCP does not run test sessions continuously through the rest of the year. Maybe the number comes up to two weekends per month. On the business side, I'll predict that not only will the C-Suite at Pearl Abyss bring up the FPS portion of EVE, but one of the investor analysts will ask about the progress also. Extra points if an analyst refers directly to Vanguard.

Project Awakening - I think 2024 will continue the sound of silence emanating from London and Reykjavik about the web 3/blockchain game. We might hear some solid news in November, either right before or right after Pearl Abyss' third quarter earnings call. But I'm predicting CCP is waiting to release news until Fanfest 2025 in the first week of May. 

EVE: Echoes - I don't really have a lot of information on CCP's first mobile game. Also, as the financial information isn't typically available until April or May each year, I'm not sure how timely the results will come in. I do predict NetEase will wind up paying out $8 million in both 2023 and 2024.

EVE: Galaxy Quest - I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the game does not see a world-wide release in 2024. Not because CCP Shanghai runs into major problems. No, the other CCP (Chinese Communist Party) will do something to gum up the works. I don't know if CCP would hold off on the release until 2025, but I can see a release in the rest of the world in the fourth quarter of 2024.

Crowd Control Productions - I think CCP will have a so-so year in 2024. Game development wise, the Icelandic developer will have a good year but will not see the fruits of the work financially until 2025. I expect revenue for the EVE IP shown in the quarterly earnings calls to remain within +/- 2% of 2023 levels.

Black Desert Online - I hate to say this, but I don't think Pearl Abyss' next expansion will succeed as well as the Land of the Morning Light expansion content released in the second half of last year. I also think our overlords in Anyang intend to focus on Pearl Abyss' core Korean audience. I did cheat a little and see the next expansion for BDO is titled Land of the Morning Light: Seoul

Crimson Desert - Crimson Desert is now a game I just want to see completed and shipped. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict 2024 is not the year. Watch for Pearl Abyss to announce a release date of the first half of 2025 sometime in November. Also, I see pre-orders for the game going on sale in either November or December of 2024.

Pearl Abyss - December 2024 will mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of Black Desert Online's open beta in Asia. That alone would indicated reduced revenues. Perhaps pre-order sales of Crimson Desert can help hold back the financial tide. But I also predict Black Desert Mobile will continue to decline. I'll predict Pearly Abyss will see revenues decline by 10% in 2024 with the revenue from the Black Desert intellectual property declining by 12-15%. I also predict the company will continue to reduce employee headcount through attrition instead of announcing a layoff.

Star Citizen - All the goodwill built up from CitizenCon will dissipate by the middle of the year as players discover CIG over promised again. I think the developers will add enough gameplay and actual improvements to the game to keep the faithful satisfied. But server meshing will not be close to a finished system and the economy once again will get short shrift. 

For what it's worth, I think player expectations for server meshing are too high. CIG just finished proving the concept about two weeks before CitizenCon. Thinking the developers were almost finished with the tech is unrealistic.

Squadron 42 - While Chris Roberts declared his studio's single player game "feature complete", he didn't announce a date. I predict he finally releases a realistic date at CitizenCon in October. While I can see a 2024 holiday season release occur, I predict the announced release date will be in the first half of 2025. Expect a box price of $70 with a collector's edition on sale for $150-$200.

Cloud Imperium Games - As of the time I write this post, CIG has not released its financial information for 2022. As such, my outlook is probably a little different than if CIG released financial information like a regular game company. Here are three financial predictions for Cloud Imperium Games that I think aren't totally silly.

1. Cash shop revenue will hit $123.5 million. In 2023 I thought CIG would see an increase of 10-12% on the revenue displayed by the "pledge counter". Instead, the figure will probably only increase by 3.5%, or $4 million. I'm predicting a 5% increase in sales for 2024.

2. Cloud Imperium Games will surpass Pearl Abyss in size by employee headcount sometime in 2024. I think CIG possibly is larger now, but the information coming out of Manchester is a bit hard to access.

3. CIG will conduct a third round of venture capital funding sometime in 2024. As in point two above, the round may have already occurred and the world is just waiting to find out the event happened.

Final Fantasy XIV - Sometimes bad predictions turn into good ones. Expect a lot of doom and gloom to come out of the launch of the Dawntrail expansion this summer. Numbers will show the number of new users is down from the previous two expansions, Shadowbringers and Endwalker. Part of the decline will come from Microsoft Blizzard launching both the next World of Warcraft retail expansion, The War Within, as well as Cataclysm Classic around the same time as the FFXIV expansion.

However, Dawntrail will receive high marks because the login servers will handle launch day and launch week traffic much better than for Endwalker. The expansion will also receive high marks for the graphics upgrade, particularly among players on XBox consoles. 

Two last predictions concerning housing. Old Sharlayan will not host a new residential area. That honor will go to Radz-at-Han. The other prediction is that the new "Island Sanctuary"-type content in Dawntrail will come a lot closer to serving as player housing than did island sanctuary. I'm just not sure how close.

Those are my predictions for 2024 in the little corner of video games I cover. I'll probably come back next December to find out how hilariously wrong I was. But I thought I'd write a little something fun for the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The EVE Vanguard Roadmap Through June 2024

For anyone under the illusion that players will engage in firefights on the surface of planets affecting factional warfare or pirate insurgencies sometime in 2024, the roadmap CCP published on Friday is probably discouraging news. For those with a little more patience, I think the news was pretty good.

I do want to point out Vanguard is much further along than CCP's last attempt at a first person shooter game, Project Nova. That game was first shown at EVE Vegas in 2018, and the reception was so bad the game was shelved. Now CCP will conduct playtests every month through June. An improvement at the very least.

In the article, CCP summarized the development steps for the first half of 2024.

The first half of 2024 will be action-packed for Vanguard, with different kinds of updates for various playtest events. In January, February, April and May, these events will focus on minor patch updates, primarily centred around bug fixes and balancing changes. March will bring a minor feature update, and we look forward to a major feature update in June.  

In addition to the aforementioned fixes and balance changes, increased support for players from Asia Pacific and South America will start in January, with dedicated servers in those regions opening the door to a new wave of Vanguard warclones. The March playtest event will provide players with a mining feature prototype, introducing the ability to mine for resources and complete new contract types. The goal is to also introduce the ability to contribute to suppression in this update. Around this time, the Vanguard may also get to test a new drop suit. 

The playtest in June will introduce a new battlefield with a new map, which we will introduce in more detail as we get closer to that moment. At this time, a weapon modification feature will be introduced, and fittings will be persistent across sessions, meaning there will be more options to tool up, modify, and upgrade your weaponry before and after deployment. The plan is to build upon the mining prototype, introduced in the March patch, adding further objectives and activities. 

I don't know how many maps Vanguard will launch with, but I have to believe two isn't enough. If the number is 4-6, I could see CCP announce at Fanfest 2025 the launch of first person shooter play, with fully integrated play with the spaceship portion of the game in the Winter 2025 expansion. Perhaps my estimate is too optimistic, but I can really can't see CCP linking the start of Vanguard to the 10th anniversary of DUST 514's shutdown date of 30 May 2016. Or would they?

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

My Surprising 2023 Rankings In EVE Online

By this point I think I've made clear that despite writing so much about EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV is my main MMORPG. I probably average somewhere between 20-25 hours per week playing FFXIV. My stats for EVE are much less. Still, I do rank in the top half of players, and more surprisingly in the top quarter of players, in some categories. At least, according to the statistics CCP emailed me Friday.

First, CCP did a bit of improving this year. I received some statistics on 4 characters across two accounts. My main characters, Rosewalker and Wandering Rose, were logged in for 30 hours and 26 hours respectively. I don't dual box like I used to, so basically I average a little over one hour a week. Doesn't sound like much, right? But Wandering Rose's 26 hours put her in the top 24% of characters logged in. Rosewalker's 30 hours puts him in the top 23%. A third character I used for planetary interaction, Rosalie Vynneve, was only logged in for 5 hours, which put her in the top 40% of characters.

Skill points gained is also an interesting statistic. Rosewalker earned 17,414,442 skill points, putting him within the top 10% of characters. Wandering Rose was giving some event skill points to Rosalie, so only received an additional 16,007,508 points, putting her in the top 11% of characters. The 1,053,725 Wandering Rose gave to Rosalie put her in the top 57% of characters. So we know that 40% or so of characters didn't earn 1 million skill points in 2023.

Earning and spending ISK is an indication of activity. Wandering Rose earned 247,183,922 ISK. A quarter of a billion ISK put me in the top 22% of characters in income generation. The 676,256,143 ISK she spent put her in the top 20% of characters in terms of spending. Rosewalker spent 59 million ISK, putting him in the top 32% of characters in spending. If I had told people two-thirds of characters in EVE spent 60 million ISK, would anyone have believed me?

Oh, and I need to explain about my PI setup. Rosalie operated the planetary interaction colonies and would give the output to Wandering Rose to sell on the market. Rosalie would then receive ISK to cover all the PI fees. This resulted in Rosalie netting 13,501,659 ISK in 2023. According to the email, that very low amount placed Rosalie in the top 19% of characters for net income. Should I report a mistake to CCP?

When the subject turned to mining and industry, I surprised myself with my rankings. Wandering Rose only mined 1,045,137 units of ore. That's a lot less than I used to mine. Yet she wound up in the top 18% of miners in 2023. And as regards my industrial output, I produced 14 ships when Evermarks were introduced. Completing 14 industry jobs ranked me in the top 28% of characters who started an industry job.

I don't consider myself an expert on how EVE is played anymore. Most of the skills I gained I've forgotten. I'm more of a history guy now, although I think I can credibly still write about the game. Given my rankings in a lot of key categories in 2023, I feel I can still write about the game.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Merry Christmas To All

I usually don't take notice of holidays unless they occur inside video games. At least as far as blogging is concerned. But for the regular readers who might be interested, here's a shot from my cottage in Final Fantasy XIV. Maybe next year I'll remember to actually decorate the place, but for now I just decorated my character.

As for the rest, have a safe and merry Christmas and I'll see you next week as I close out the year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Blizzard Releases The Roadmaps For 2024

Does anyone get the impression that Microsoft has already imprinted some of its culture onto Blizzard Entertainment? The part about pumping out the content. World of Warcraft Executive Producer Holly Longdale released a roadmap yesterday for both Retail WoW and WoW Classic in 2024.

Without dates, I can only surmise Longdale plans to release six significant patches, including The War Within expansion, during 2024. The timing of the expansion originally drew my interest, with the pre-expansion patch due to drop in early summer and the expansion itself in late summer. Before the acquisition by Microsoft, I would entertain the theory Blizzard was counter-programming against the release of FFXIV: Dawnwalker which is also due to release in the summer of 2024. But given the new release cadence, I'll chalk it up to Agile development.

Longdale had this to say about Retail WoW:

In modern World of Warcraft, you’re going to see three more content updates for Dragonflight arriving before World of Warcraft: The War Within releases next year. In these updates, we’ll be wrapping up the story for this expansion and laying the foundation for our next one. Dragonflight Season 4 will revisit Dragonflight’s dungeons and raids, along with outdoor content, featuring updated rewards, and a few new twists. Then, in the Spring/Summer, we’ll ask for your feedback when the War Within expansion alpha and beta tests drop.  We will continue to communicate details, dates, and more goodness as we get closer to content updates, just like this year! Well, most of it anyway (we’ll have some surprises in store too!).  Coming up next in January, we have the Seeds of Renewal content update on tap and we’re currently keeping an eye on your feedback on the live public test realms (PTR) for this update.

I'm not exactly sure about the whole Cataclysm Classic coming in 2024. Didn't the Cataclysm expansion mark the beginning of the decline of WoW? Quite frankly, with all the flavors of Classic servers, I get confused with everything going on, including what is coming in 2024. Once again, I'll turn to Longdale for an explanation.

In WoW Classic, we have updates coming for Classic Hardcore with “Self Found” support in February as a new way to challenge players and add a little more hardcore into your Hardcore. Lok’tar ogar! We’ll also have more phases to release in Season of Discovery next year as the adventure continues. And, of course, Cataclysm Classic is right around the corner in the first half of next year!

From a release schedule standpoint, the Classic team is pumping out the content next year. I have the feeling some flavors of Classic may experience a content drought, but nothing like I've seen written about in the past.

I stopped playing World of Warcraft back in Vanilla, but I really cannot remember a time when WoW wasn't subject to long content droughts. Whether the cause is Phil Spencer or relatively new Executive Producer Holly Longdale, I see a steady release of content for years to come. The burning question, though, is how well the content is received by the players. After all, a steady stream of bad content will shove players to greener pastures.

Monday, December 18, 2023

The Business Model Of Final Fantasy XIV

Last Thursday MassivelyOP awarded Final Fantasy XIV the "Best MMO Business Model of 2023" award. I'm still not sure the staff isn't trolling us. While Creative Business Unit III's funding model is not nearly as egregious as that of Star Citizen, Diablo Immortal, or Black Desert Online, I wouldn't think FFXIV would beat out the likes of Guild Wars 2. So I decided to take a closer look at a game I've paid a subscription to for over 4 years.

First, Final Fantasy XIV is a buy-to-play, subscription game with a rather robust cash shop. That description alone is enough to chase potential players away. Players must either buy A Realm Reborn for $19.99 and then purchase the Endwalker expansion (which includes the Heavensward, Stormblood, and Shadowbringers expansions) for $39.99. Or one can just purchase the Complete Edition of FINAL FANTASY XIV which includes the base game and all expansions for $59.99. Personally, I'd advise picking up the Complete Edition. Paying the extra penny is worth the hassle avoided.

The memes and copy/pastas across the Internet are true

Just buying A Realm Reborn is not necessary. I believe the option still exists for players who stopped playing during the original release of ARR and wish to try the game again after 8 years or so. The free trial includes the base game and first two expansions with no limit on playtime for those who wish to try the game first. The only caveat is that once an account is upgraded to either Entry or Standard, the account cannot be converted back to a trial account. I should also warn that players on free trial accounts cannot access the cash shop.

The subscription portion of Final Fantasy XIV's business model might receive a mixed reaction. I call the payment options "subscription à la carte". In most games, a subscription refers strictly to game time. A game may charge $14.99 per month, with reductions for subscribing for 3, 6, or 12 months at a time. In FFXIV, players have three paid services they can access, with options within two of them.

Game time prices - December 2023

FFXIV has two types of accounts, Entry and Standard. The difference between two types was much greater before April 2022. Up until then, Entry accounts had a maximum of one character allowed on a server. Now the maximum is 8, the same as on a Standard account which can have up to 40 characters. Entry accounts can only pay monthly, but they pay at the rate Standard accounts pay who purchase their game time in 6 month blocks. Given FFXIV is designed to only require one account, not a bad trade-off.

The second paid service, retainers, I think is the most controversial. Players receive two retainers for free after completing the level 17 quest "The Scions of the Seventh Dawn" and can rent an additional 7 retainers at $2/month. The main benefits of retainers are:

  • Provide 175 bank slots as well as holding elemental shards/crystals/clusters used in crafting, and gil.
  • Provide 20 slots to sell items on the market
  • Procurement of items and materials via Ventures
  • Procurement of additional gil via Ventures

I think many people are used to other games where any type of bank slot is a one-time purchase from the cash shop. For example, purchasing 180 item slots in Guild Wars 2, if I understand the gem to dollar conversion rate correctly, costs $36. So if one is only interested in retainers for inventory space, FFXIV pulls ahead of Guild Wars 2 revenue-wise after about 18 months.

How payment for retainers works

The retainer service I thought might prove a deal breaker for the folks at MassivelyOP when determining the Best MMO Business Model, and not just because of the inventory slot issue. Players adding additional retainers to their subscription can gain a considerable advantage over those who don't. For example, my additional 6 level 90 retainers earn me approximately 180,000 gil per week in addition to all the items they bring me. If any part of the FFXIV business model screams out pay-to-win, the retainer service is it.

The final subscription service does need mentioning. FFXIV has a companion app that is really good, even if someone over at Square Enix added an in-app currency. The app is free to use, but also has a premium subscription service. For an additional $5/month, players:

  • Receive an extra retainer slot (making a maximum of 10 retainers)
  • A second chocobo saddlebag (70 item slots)
  • Obtain 2 Kupo nuts for each login
  • Hold up to 10 Kupo nuts at any one time
  • Organize chocobo saddlebags and retainer inventories via the app

I really don't need the ability to buy and sell lots of items via the companion app so I give this subscription a pass. For me, the premium service is a bit much.

As I mentioned before, the subscription service is an à la carte affair. Only plan having 8 characters or less? Go with the Entry plan and get the minimum price even subbing one month at a time. Like retainers? Pick the proper number of extra retainers for you. Don't use the companion app? Don't pay a fee. Basically, players can pay for the services they use. At least, players are given a greater choice than I'm used to.

Finally, we get to the cash shop. For many, a cash shop in a subscription based game disqualifies the game immediately. For me, a cash shop that doesn't try to confuse me by introducing a secondary currency is a plus.

Now, don't get me wrong. A lot of things, like level and expansion skips, are available in the cash shop. And yes, some items that give an advantage, like the initial speed of the SDS Fenrir at the beginning of an expansion, are available. But, on the whole the choices don't shout out "Pay to win!". Unless, of course, the idea is to win the glamour and night club game.

A typical complaint about cash shops is that the best looking gear in a game is reserved for the cash shop. Some of the best looking gear in FFXIV is indeed found in the cash shop. But a large percentage of gear originally was part of an in-game event, whether a seasonal event or a cross-over with another game. Or, in the case of the SDS Fenrir, a giveaway at a previous Fanfest. 

Creative Business Unit III is fond of patterns, and this one fits in with the cash shop and business model. The developers come up with a twist on each seasonal event every year. Each twist results in a fresh story and new items. The story typically isn't very long, but the items usually look pretty good. They should, as the event items disappear from the game for a year before appearing in the cash shop at the beginning of the next year's event. A pretty good incentive to make high quality items that first appear as rewards for gameplay, I think.

Of course, the best part of the cash shop is no cash shop currency. So, for example, if I want to purchase the Street Attire set, I can see right away it costs $22 and that if I really want the set, I need to wait for a sale. No purchasing a secondary currency and then making a mistake doing the conversion to dollars in my head. Also, no worrying about left over currency lying around trying to tempt me to buy a few dollars more to get something else. 

I know I skimped on some of the details, but that's a quick look at the business model of Final Fantasy XIV. I realize no business model is perfect, but I'll settle for one I don't mind exists. The buy to play the game is pretty standard for a subscription game. The subscription à la carte model appeals to me as I don't feel I'm paying for things I don't want or will never use. Finally, unlike games like Black Desert Online and Guild Wars 2, I never visited the cash shop looking for something I needed to have to play the game. I can just browse looking for bargains.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

EVE: Havoc - A New Insurgency Activity And The End Of Daily Challenges

After a full week of updates last week, CCP dropped another patch for EVE Online yesterday I expect will last until the end of the holiday season. No, we are not seeing a return of the Yule Lads. Instead the developers are busy adding onto the new systems introduced in Havoc and Viridian

First comes a new activity for the pirate insurgencies introduced in Havoc. If I understand these new Ice Refinery Heists correctly, CCP is looking to provide a wider variety of activities as the corruption and suppression levels in a system increase. The patch notes provided the details.

  • Large, fleet-oriented sites that will spawn when corruption or suppression reaches stages 3 and 4. The Ice Heist will share the LP reward with up to 30 pilots before being diminished. 

  • The Ice Heist will allow T1, T2 and T3 ships of battleship size and below to enter. Depending on if you’re a pirate, opposing militia member, or a neutral player will determine where you land in the site. Neutral players will get a suspect timer on entering.

  • To succeed in the Ice Heist, players will need to be within 5,000m of the new guided tanker objects, and using the radial menu, right click menu, or selected items, start ‘guidance’ on the tanker and it will start flying towards their factions' loading bay/scaffolding for extraction.

  • Groups will earn 1 point for each tanker ship guided back to respective home bases.

  • The first side to reach 10 points will be rewarded and will increase corruption/suppression accordingly.

  • A tanker can only be guided by one player. The tanker will stop being guided if the ship guiding it is no longer within 10km or is destroyed.

  • Be aware that there are opposing NPCs which will focus ships which are guiding tankers.

Want to know where the daily challenges went? Open up the Opportunities window. The daily challenges are now known as the AIR Daily Goals.

AIR now presents Daily Goals, a perfect opportunity to gain rewards for activities you’re already doing or have something to do when you’re unsure what’s next!

  • After each downtime, players are assigned a set of four daily goals, each aligning with distinct career paths: Explorer, Industrialist, Enforcer, and Soldier of Fortune.

  • The set of goals is the same for all players each day.

  • Successful completion of these goals rewards players with both ISK and EverMarks.

  • Players who accomplish at least two of the four daily goals are additionally granted Skill Points.

  • The AIR daily goal interface has been integrated into the AIR Opportunities window.

  • ISK rewards are taxed by the player’s corporation and EM rewards are duplicated, giving the same amount of EM to the player as well as the player’s corporation.

  • All unclaimed Corporation Projects and AIR Daily Goals rewards that are older than 30 days will be claimed automatically. This process will start in January 2024.

  • AIR Daily Goals replaces the Daily Challenges system.

The Opportunities window is filling out quite nicely. And each button on the screen leads to a level underneath.

The goal displays the progress and rewards for the task. Perhaps better yet, each goal has a tracking toggle to choose whether to track the goal or not on your screen. Best yet, the default is off. Less clutter on an already cluttered UI is a good thing.

With the holidays fast approaching, I doubt we will see any more significant patches drop for EVE. But that's okay. I'm getting tired trying to keep up with all the changes. If the game will just stay the same for two or three days, I might get the chance to play a little instead of creating blog posts.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Record Active ISK Delta On Tranquility In November 2023

I'm a little late on the news about the monthly economic report (MER) in EVE Online for November 2023. I don't cover the MER like I used to, but a statistic did jump out at me. The Active ISK Delta hit a record high of 104.5 trillion ISK for the Alpha/Omega period in EVE Online going back to December 2017.

The Active ISK Delta is the amount of in-game currency entering or leaving the game due to players either leaving or returning to New Eden. The figure usually is a good measure if players are coming back to play EVE Online, as brand new players count as zero for the metric. In other words, the Active ISK Delta is not affected by the increased interest in EVE due to the Down The Rabbit Hole documentary by Fredrik Knudsen published in November.

The Active ISK Delta has been extremely volatile over the past 13 months. Last month's 104.5 trillion ISK broke the record associated with the launch of the Uprising expansion in November 2022. Since the return of expansions last year, the Active ISK Delta has averaged -5.36 trillion ISK per month, indicating players really aren't leaving the game. Or if they are, many are returning. Another good sign for the health of EVE going forward.

Friday, December 8, 2023

EVE: Havoc Patch Notes For The Week Of 4-8 December 2023

I'm not sure how I feel about all the patch notes published for EVE Online this week. Should I feel happiness the developers are jumping on problems, or that the issues weren't discovered until noticed by players on Tranquility global shard? In fairness, not all of the patch notes fixed defects. The final seasonal event of the year, Winter Nexus, came out on Tuesday. Other features received some enhancements to improve usability. One thing I feel confident in saying is the game has come a long way from when I started playing. Back then, if a problem wound up on Tranquility, we'd have to live with the issue until the next expansion in six months.

As I've done a couple of times before during Havoc I'm going to post multiple days of patch notes together, if only to help out everyone logging in over the weekend know what's changed since last Sunday. I'm also going to lump subjects together in an attempt to make finding some of the changes easier.

Features & Changes:


Winter Nexus Patch Notes And YouTube Guides - I added some YouTube guides to the Winter Nexus event created by some EVE Partners on YouTube.

Winter Nexus Themed Character Select and Wreck Icons [2023-12-04.1]

  • In preparation for Winter Nexus, the Character Select Screen is updated, and present icons tagging wrecks of your helpless victims as you claim your bounties! [2023-12-04.1]

  • The EVE Vanguard: First Strike event begins today [December 7th] and runs until December 11th! [2023-12-07.1]

  • During the First Strike event players in Vanguard will add corruption to the Guristas insurgency that is centered in Hevrice whenever they complete contracts. Players logged into the EVE Online client can see the effect of the Vanguard on the corruption levels within this Guristas insurgency through the insurgency UI. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Insurgency systems will now use a triangle instead of square at Corruption level 5 in the autopilot route display. [2023-12-07.1]

AIR Opportunities:
  • AIR Opportunities now opens by default when a player is docked for the first time after downtime. [2023-12-07.1]

  • The Opportunity Details page of Pirate Insurgencies now displays Corruption and Suppression information. [2023-12-07.1]

  • The search/filter/sort header now sticks to the top of the page when scrolling. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Feature pages now include an info icon with a tooltip explaining which opportunities are listed there. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Feature tags now include their feature icon. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Factional Warfare and Pirate Insurgencies opportunities no longer show non-relevant faction sites. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Rewards tab introduced with one unified area to claim all unclaimed rewards for opportunities. [2023-12-07.1]

  • AIR Opportunities now displays how many opportunities the player has in their Active and Rewards tabs. [2023-12-07.1]

  • The claim button in the Opportunity Details page of Corporation Projects now plays an animation when players claim their reward. [2023-12-07.1]

Corporation Projects:
  • New Project Hangars role. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Corporation members with this role will have access to their corporation's Project Hangars. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Project Creation summary. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Each collapsed subsection of the project creation form will now display a summary of what was authored in that section. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Updated the details page for Corporation Projects to include a section that shows the ISK value per contribution. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Info panel entries for corporation projects now show their progress even when collapsed. [2023-12-07.1]
Factional Warfare:
  • Fixed an unintended interaction with direct enlistment where you could remote repair or provide remote assistance to someone who is directly enlisted with a militia with a PVP timer in the same corp as you, while you are not direct enlisted in the same faction as them. This is now treated as a criminal action in high security space.
Homefront Operations:
  • Unique Transmissions will no longer appear after a character has first viewed it. [2023-12-07.1]

  • The cost of Domination Ballistic Control System in the Malakim Zealots Loyalty Store has been increased to 64,000 LP´s and 25,714,300 ISK to match the same price as the Dread Guristas Ballistic Control Systems. [2023-12-07.1]
  • The support for Windows 7 and Windows 8 has ended and it is no longer possible to start the client on those operating systems.
  • CONCORD has updated the security ratings of Villore, Bereye, Hek, and Parchanier to 0.9, 0.9, 0.8, and 0.9, respectively, following another security audit in these systems. CONCORD does not expect further updates in the foreseeable future. [2023-12-05.1]

  • Several empire intelligence networks have been alerted to reported sightings of high-profile members of Arkombine arriving at The Fulcrum in Zarzakh. [2023-12-05.1]
User Interface:
  • Insurgency systems experiencing Level 5 Corruption will show up as triangles in the route instead of squares. Waypoints will still be crosses. [2023-12-07.1]

  • The updated Settings Menu introduced in Havoc is no longer full-screen. It now opens windowed and center aligned. [2023-12-07.1]

  • If players skip the character select screen when logging in and have unclaimed daily gifts, the Daily Login Campaigns Neocom icon will now blink blue momentarily when a player is docked for the first time in a session. [2023-12-07.1]

Defect Fixes:

AIR Opportunities:
  • Agent missions that are in the offered state (not accepted) are no longer auto-tracked after settings are cleared. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Horizontal card scrolling is no longer misaligned for the Epic Arcs and Introductions sections of the Opportunities home page. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Update Post Downtime - We have disabled AIR Opportunities ore anomalies temporarily while we investigate an ongoing issue. [2023-12-08.1]

  • AIR Opportunities ore anomalies were temporarily disabled while we investigated an ongoing issue. They have since been re-enabled. [2023-12-08.2]

  • Disabled opening AIR Opportunities on first dock. [2023-12-08.2]
Corporation Projects:
  • Fixed an issue where some players were unable to claim their contribution rewards for Corporation Projects. [2023-12-07.1]
  • Ship decals no longer misbehave when zooming in and out. [2023-12-06.1]

  • Addressed multiple issues with applying SKINs and switching ships in Upwell hangars. [2023-12-06.1]

  • Faction emblems no longer appear on traitor NPC hulls. [2023-12-06.1]

  • Fixed multiple issues with errant VFX, decals, and blinkies on various SKINs. [2023-12-06.1]

  • Metamorphosis blueprint no longer has an image of the Sunesis. [2023-12-06.1]

  • Minor tweak to audio triggers when other capsuleers enter/exit wormholes. [2023-12-06.1]

  • Fixed an issue where new Alliance Tournament VFX were erroneously appearing on older Alliance Tournament ship models. [2023-12-06.1]

New Player Experience:
  • Improved off-path handling throughout the experience. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Added additional highlight banners to make instructions clearer. [2023-12-07.1]

  • The Dock button in Selected Items will now stop blinking when warping to the station following the mining experience. [2023-12-07.1]
  • Skipping the tutorial during a camera animation will no longer disable camera controls for the remainder of the session. [2023-12-07.1]

User Interface:

  • Fixed an exception which prevented the corruption score from updating in the info panel for the solarsystem whenever pirates captured an insurgency site. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Fixed an issue where several words were divided in the Settings Window for the German language. [2023-12-07.1]

  • Fixed a defect and exception where the stage value in the guristas FOB system could show an incorrect, very large number after a vanguard contract completed. [2023-12-08.1]

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Winter Nexus Patch Notes And YouTube Guides

I am two days late on delivering news about EVE Online's last seasonal event for 2023, Winter Nexus. The event, running from last Tuesday through 4 January 2024, offers 30 days of login rewards. Alpha accounts can obtain up to 125,000 skill points and Omega accounts up to 650,000 skill points for logging in 23 of the 30 days of the event.  In addition to a selection of boosters, filaments, the login rewards also include Aurora Universalis SKINs. Alpha accounts can receive the festive SKINs for the following ships:

  • Tormentor (Day 3)
  • Incursus (Day 6)
  • Vigil (Day 9)
  • Harpy (Day 11)
  • Pontifex (Day 13)
  • Stork (Day 17)
  • Bellicose (Day 19)
  • Lachesis (Day 21)

Omega accounts receive the Alpha SKINs plus a few others:

  • Merlin (Day 3)
  • Algos (Day 5)
  • Kikimora (Day 8)
  • Arbitrator (Day 10)
  • Rook (Day 12)
  • Rapier (Day 14)
  • Barghest (Day 17)
  • Chimera (Day 19)
  • Nidhoggur (Day 21)

For those collecting event points, in addition to boosters, crates and filaments, another 9 SKINs are available:

  • Ishkur (50 pts)
  • Dragoon (150 pts)
  • Talwar (300 pts)
  • Magus (350 pts)
  • Blackbird (450 pts)
  • Arazu (600 pts)
  • Huginn (700 pts)
  • Nestor (800 pts)
  • Thanatos (900 pts)

I included a list of all the SKINs available from the login and event tracks because a lot of people like to decorate their ships. But since I didn't see a description of the event in The Agency (I could have missed it), I thought posting the patch notes might help out.

Winter Nexus Event!

  • The Winter Nexus event has returned to New Eden! This in-game event will run until downtime on January 4th 2024.

  • Volatile Ice Storms have begun to appear across highsec, lowsec, and nullsec space. These ice storms spread out across the stargate network two jumps from a central system, and occasionally move from system to system just like metaliminal storms. These storms provide bonuses to ship thermal resistances and module overheating for all capsuleers flying within them. Sansha's Nation and Outer Ring Excavations have both mobilized to take advantage of the novel forms of stellar ice found within these storms.

    • Wightstorm combat anomalies have begun appearing within the Volatile Ice Storms. These sites are full of hostile Sansha's nation vessels, and CONCORD advises capsuleers bring a battlecruiser ship or better when attempting to engage with these forces. The Wightstorm Forward Base site found within storms that originate in highsec space appears to be guarded by the weakest Sansha fleets, with the nullsec Wightstorm Transit Site posing an intermediate challenge and the lowsec-based Wightstorm Muster Point offering the greatest challenge for the greatest rewards.

    • Wightstorm data signatures can also be found within Volatile Ice Storms. These Sansha's Nation data sites can be hacked by enterprising capsuleers equipped with scan probes and data analyzer modules.

    • Volatile Ice Field anomalies can also be discovered within Volatile Ice Storms. These fields of newly discovered stellar ice have recently been captured by ORE and Mordu's Legion forces who have driven away the Sansha harvesting fleets. These ice fields can be accessed through a special ORE-commandeered acceleration gate that only allows medium and small mining and hauling ships to enter (Expedition Frigates, Mining Barges, Exhumers, Industrial Ships, Blockade Runners, Deep Space Transports, and the Porpoise). The volatile ice found within these fields cannot be reprocessed by standard facilities, however Outer Ring Excavations has set up mobile ice collection operations within each of these ice fields and is willing to trade with capsuleers who contribute to their mining operation. Capsuleers can trade seven units of volatile ice with the ORE representatives in the ice fields to receive a package of valuable salvage and items that ORE forces collected from the wrecks of Sansha ships. Rumors suggest that other valuable Sansha salvage has frozen directly into some of the ice chunks and can be occasionally picked up along with the ice by normal mining activities.

    • Rewards that can be found by capsuleers within all of these sites include valuable Overseers' Effects, hundreds of festive ship SKINs, limited-time Cerebral Accelerators, character apparel, special Sansha's nation combat boosters, Sansha's Nation pirate implant blueprints, and rare faction modules. 

  • Limited-time Ice Storm filaments are now available that will instantly transport capsuleers into one of these volatile ice storms. Each filament clearly states in its description how many capsuleers it can transport and whether it will take them to a highsec, lowsec, or nullsec storm.

  • A new Yoiul Festival seasonal challenge track can be found within the Agency. These challenges can be completed over the course of the event by engaging with the combat, hacking, and ice mining sites within the Volatile Ice Storms. Completing these challenges will provide players with points that will progress them along a reward track consisting of new exclusive Aurora Universalis skins, Sansha combat boosters, and ice storm filaments.

  • A new set of daily login gifts are available over the course of the Winter Nexus event including snowballs, ice storm filaments, new Aurora Universalis skins, Sansha combat boosters, EverMarks and up to 650.000 skill points. Players can receive all of these rewards by logging in everyday between now and January 4th.

  • An expert system has been included which will allow all players, including alpha accounts, the ability to fly an Endurance and fit an Ice Mining Laser to mine ice for 4 days. 

I also decided to include some guides made by YouTubers in the EVE Partner Program. These content creators received exclusive access to the Singularity test shard to give them the opportunity to create videos for release when events begin. Here are some of the guides I managed to find:

Loru Gaming

Captain Benzie

Torvald Uruz

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Killing Is Just A Means To Communicate Activity In EVE Online

Another month is in the books. November was a bit special in EVE Online due to the launch of the Havoc expansion on the 14th. For the launch of Havoc, people seem to downplay the number of players logging into the game. Even Jester wrote a cautionary post on the EVE sub-Reddit and hasn't posted the November average concurrent user numbers to his website like normal. The month ended with an average ACU of approximately 24,000 players logged in at any one time according to what Jester posted to Reddit.

If logins are not a reliable statistic, then how about the number of explosions players create in the game? Dotlan Maps only provides statistics for the three main security bands, high sec, low sec, and null security space. For most of the categories provided, New Eden saw numbers not posted for years in most cases.

High sec in an interesting study. Player ships that explode are in large part inflated because the tutorials and career agents send new players into situations in which they lose their ships. The 403,064 player owned ships exploding in high sec last month hasn't been seen since the pandemic days of August 2020. And while the number of NPCs players destroyed is still drastically down compared to 2013-2014, the 108,326,826 killed is the most in two years.

One of the constants in CCP's three expansions over the past 13 months is a focus on low security space. The number of ships players managed to lose in the security band, at 294,946, fell just short of 300 thousand. Still, players managed to die at the highest rate since January 2017, or in almost 7 years. The draw back at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 was the introduction of the free-to-play Alpha character option. 

Finally, the number of ships exploding in null security space almost reached 300 thousand for the first time since January 2022. The 297,582 ships players lost in November was the most in almost three years. Players still feel the effects of the Scarcity Era, but the 166,606,543 NPCs killed by players last month was the most since players destroyed over 205 thousand in October 2020.

Perhaps all the cynics are right. Perhaps in the long run Havoc will fail to attract and hold players interest. But so far the return of the expansion release schedule is rebuilding the player base after some questionable decisions by the upper management of CCP Games over the past few years. Hopefully players will continue to communicate their approval of the current direction of the game in the most EVE way possible: blowing each other up.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Cloud Imperium Games Posts Record Sales Of $28.4 Million In November 2023

Cloud Imperium Games recorded a record amount in sales in November 2023. Last month the makers of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 set a single-month sales record of $28.4 million in sales according to the CCU Game - Star Citizen dashboard. The total surpassed the year-over-year sales compared to November 2022 by $5.3 million, or 23.2%. Overall, CIG's sales total for 2023 so far is $109.1 million, a 3.4% increase from the first eleven months of 2022's total of $105.5 million.

Overall, CIG has raised $731.0 million from confirmed sources (the funding page & the 2021 financial report). The income breaks down as follows:

  • Sales/Pledges: $649.0 million (through 30 November 2023)
  • Subscriptions: $27.8 million (through 31 December 2021)
  • All other sources: $54.2 million (through 31 December 2021)

In addition, CIG received $63.25 million in investor funding in 2018 and 2019, bringing the total confirmed funding of the project up to $794.2 million. Of the total through the end of 2021, $1.4 million was paid out to investors as dividends.

With the monster sales powered by the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo in the final 2 weeks of the month, CIG will most assuredly surpass 2022's sales figure of $113.6 million. If the company matches the December sales of 2019, the possibility exists of reaching $120 million in sales for 2023. 

Next month is a big month for those watching Cloud Imperium's finances. The company will publish its financial report for 2022, giving observers a look at spending and income other than the sale of virtual goods. The amount displayed on the funding tracker does not cover the day-to-day operations so the report will show exactly how healthy CIG's financial situation truly is.