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Monday, April 15, 2024

Blizzard Games To Return To The People's Republic This Summer

In a story I missed last week, Microsoft has made up to NetEase for the sins committed by the Bobby Kotick-led Activision-Blizzard-King and Blizzard games are returning to the People's Republic of China. Reading the coverage of the event, the effects of the agreements will definitely expand past the borders of the world's number two economy.

That's right, two agreements. The first returns many favorite games to China. According to the South China Morning Post:

Confirming an earlier South China Morning Post report, the two companies renewed a publishing agreement that will cover games under the previous arrangement, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and other titles in the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and StarCraft universes, according to a joint statement on Wednesday. These titles are expected to start returning to mainland China this summer.

“After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences,” according to the statement.

Last January, the two companies suspended services for all Blizzard titles in the mainland, except for Diablo Immortal, a mobile title co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard, as their 14-year partnership came to an end. Both sides blamed each other for treating Chinese players badly after failing to agree to new terms to extend the deal.

A Reuters report came closest to fingering former ABK CEO Bobby Kotick for the breakdown in relations.

A number of Blizzard's games were taken offline in China in January 2023 after the developer terminated the partnership with NetEase citing disagreement over intellectual property control. The pair subsequently sued each other.

Tension eased after Microsoft's October acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which was followed by management changes. Chinese media then reported that Microsoft and NetEase were seeking ways to re-launch Blizzard games in China.

But are Chinese players willing to forgive the pulling of their favorite games away from them for over a year? Not according to The New York Times.

The announcement of the new agreement was shared widely on Weibo, China’s version of X, and the reaction was mostly negative. Some people still seemed upset that the games had not been available for more than a year, while others accused Blizzard of disrespecting Chinese gamers. One person said that were not so “cheap” as to come running back immediately once the games had returned.

But Microsoft and NetEase also signed an agreement about the XBox platform. According to Investopedia:

Separately, NetEase and Microsoft entered into an agreement that would look into bringing new NetEase titles to Microsoft’s Xbox consoles and other platforms.

"NetEase games titles being explored to be brought under Xbox consoles and other platforms is incrementally positive" for the China-based developer and operator of online games, Jefferies added.

One might think the news was good for the stock price of NetEase, which trades on Nasdaq. But after opening at $101.66 on Wednesday, NetEase stock opened the week trading at $93.03 today, a decline of 8.5% in the stock price over 3 business days.

Friday, April 12, 2024

The New Scope Video And The High Sec Drone Event

Over the last week or so real life, especially work, has gotten in the way of my gaming. I've barely logged into Final Fantasy XIV and only briefly roamed once in EVE looking for high sec drone sites. Apparently a lot of players haven't run drone sites since the next step in the road to the expansion launched last Thursday. Why do I think so? Because CCP dropped a new Scope video today.


The video pretty much covers the information released last week. Some additional information came across the news scroll at the bottom of the video. The scroll did get cut off as the information gathered by players was presented.
  • ...mobile tractor unit destroyed in ritual scholars are calling "previously unrecorded kind of heresy" 

  • President Aguard praises Upwell's "innovative use of technology"

  • Deathless custodians reportedly acquire kidnapped Chemal Tech geneticist offered by Fraternity

  • Tribal Council to review Upwell leak in rare public session.

  • One trillion ISK worth of assets destroyed in a capsuleer battle in Ahbazon, Genesis.

  • Fears of mass hysteria as belief in secret wormhole conspiracy theory on the rise.

  • Intaki Autonomists hold economic ...
A couple of player events were noted including Fraternity's previous involvement in the current storyline. But for the most part not one of the better Scope videos. Which is another reason I think today's video was in reaction to player actions, or rather, inaction. Videos done in connection with on-going storylines are usually pretty good. Today's was, well, meh.

I'll try to log in for a few hours over the weekend, but I still have to do my taxes. Perhaps increasing the spawn rate for drone sites will help.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The New Rogue Drone Event In EVE Online

On Thursday, CCP pushed an unnamed event onto EVE Online's Tranquility server. I call the new content an "unnamed event" as EVE live events are usually released on Thursdays instead of the normal Tuesday release day. According to the patch notes, the Upwell Consortium is up to something.

Universe:

  • The Upwell Consortium are calling for capsuleer assistance providing materials for a project at their Applied Gravitation Research Center in the Auviken solar system.

    • Upwell are asking for capsuleers to bring them Rogue Drone Components contained in the wrecks of advanced sentient AI rogue drones that have been spotted throughout the known cluster.

    • In particular, Upwell are seeking Drone Graviton Emitters. Sentient rogue drone strains throughout high-security space have recently started adopting and using them.

    • Upwell will reward capsuleers who donate a selection of these components with reward crates containing loyalty tokens that are exchangeable for ISK at any station belonging to a member corporation of the Upwell Consortium. Additionally, crates may include new limited prototype blueprint copies for small tractor beams, capital tractor beams and a mobile tractor unit that have been enhanced by Upwell thanks to their latest discoveries in graviton research.
Yes, another community gathering event, this time located in high sec. The drop-off location is a new Upwell station orbiting Auviken VI. Auviken is a 0.8 security system located in the the Caldari State owned region of The Citadel, five jumps from the game's primary trade hub of Jita. A news article published on Thursday spelled out the requirements for obtaining reward crates. The amount sounds like a lot.
  • 1x Drone Graviton Emitter
  • 10x Drone Cerebral Fragment
  • 60x Drone Capillary Fluid
  • 40x Drone Tactical Limb
  • 100x Drone Synaptic Relay Wiring
I don't know the drop rates for the items, but I do hope the conjunction used was supposed to be "or" instead of "and". The reward crates contain Upwell Consortium Loyalty Tokens. Before groaning about yet another currency introduced to the game, these Upwell tokens are tradable for the tokens for other groups. The crates may also hold new blueprints, specifically for the Consortium Tractor Beams, both small and capital-sized, and the Consortium Mobile Tractor Unit. 

Between work and getting my replacement PC up to speed, I'm just getting around to looking at new EVE content. I just hope the hand in items are not too bulky. I have a Caldari character that flies blockade runners really well I can send into the Caldari State to participate in the event. On the other hand, waiting until my PC is ready should result in some good screen shots.

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Look At March 2024's Active ISK Delta

CCP Games published EVE Online's monthly economic report (MER) for March 2024 today. In an effort to keep the EVE Online community team from labeling me a "tardy capsuleer", I dug into the report to gather the latest information on the Active ISK Delta.

From the March 2024 MER

Before continuing, I do want to make note of a change to the way the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated. The following items were removed due to them really only consisting of trade between players and NPCs and thus are fixed.
  • Overseer Personal Effects
  • Sleeper Components
  • Triglavian Data
  • Rogue Drone Analysis Data
  • Bounty Encrypted Bonds
These items consist of some of the biggest ISK faucets in the game. While not directly affecting the Active ISK Delta, they do have an impact on inflation, or lack thereof, in New Eden. Removing these items with fixed costs should result in a small increase in the CPI. At least, I assume so.

Post pandemic Active ISK Delta

The Active ISK Delta, as defined by CCP, is the net effect of ISK coming and going with player accounts, including all GM actions. If the number is positive, players are returning to the game. If the numbers are negative, then players are leaving the game with more money than those returning to the game. The number also counts the ISK that left the game from those who did not log in for the past 30 days.

After three months of near historic negative Active ISK Deltas, March saw the metric rise to only -29.2 trillion ISK. While an improvement, the Active ISK Delta dropped 62.2% compared to March 2023. For the first quarter of 2024, a total of 166 trillion ISK left the New Eden money supply compared to the 54.2 trillion ISK that did so in the first quarter of 2023.

One item of note is that players leaving the game was not the biggest ISK sink in March. Transaction taxes exceeded the amount of ISK withdrawn from the game, 35.1 trillion ISK to 29.2 trillion ISK. As a result, the money supply grew 1.2% up to 2.1 quadrillion ISK. To keep the money supply from growing, the Active ISK Delta needed to reach -54.2 trillion ISK.

Jester's Average Concurrent User graph, April 2023 to March 2024

For April I will keep an eye on whether both the number of average concurrent users and the Active ISK Delta increases (i.e. turns positive). In the month before Viridian, the Active ISK Delta was -3 trillion ISK before increasing to 104.5 trillion ISK during the expansions launch month. Will EVE experience something similar in the lead up to the next expansion?

Thursday, April 4, 2024

March 2024 Activity In EVE Online

With the end of the first quarter, gaming companies will begin preparing briefings for investors. We won't know the financial numbers for EVE Online until May, but we can perhaps get a sense of direction from the activity in the game.

The number of players logged in leveled off

The first step is to look at the average concurrent number of players as tracked by Jester. The number of players logged in remained fairly constant in March, so much so that the 30-day moving average is closely tracking the 7-day moving average of players logged in. The approximately 22,500 accounts logged in at any one time still exceeds the approximately 19,500 logged in during March 2023. Just from the logged in numbers, the EVE IP is looking at a year-over-year upswing in the Q1 2024 earnings call.

Year-over-year comparison

Over the six categories of explosions in known space in New Eden, the only one which declined was player ship deaths in low sec. The 16.1% decline is probably explained by The Shadow War event which occurred in March 2023.


Overall, player ship losses have exceeded 200,000 ships for 15 of the 17 months since the launch of the Uprising expansion in November 2022. Perhaps more surprising is the current 4 month streak of players killing more than 10 million NPCs in low sec from December 2023 to March 2024. In the records going back to the start of 2010, players had never killed that many NPCs in low sec as many as three months. The last time players killed more than 10 million NPCs in consecutive months was December 2022 and January 2023.

The other key area to check is ratting in null sec. While the major wars in null sec draw eyes to EVE, the carebears in null pay the bills. The 33.7% year-over-year increase in rats destroyed in March wasn't an aberration. Over the course of the first quarter of 2024, players killed 36.4% more NPCs in null sec than they did in the first three months of 2023.

So from a quick look at player activity, I think the health of the game, while not as good as 10 years ago, isn't bad for a game that began development in the 20th century. I also expect to see games from the EVE universe continue to shine on the next Pearl Abyss investment call in May. But what I really want to see is if the next expansion can keep the good news flowing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Beta Testing For EVE Online's Play Science App Announced

Apart from Project Awakening, CCP hasn't publicized any development efforts apart from EVE Online. But that doesn't mean new features and applications are not in development. Players have playtested the new EVE: Vanguard FPS module for a few months now. Now a previously announced application, the Play Science app, is about to undergo public beta testing.
In a news article today the Icelandic game maker announced how players can sign-up to participate in the beta test. Play Science is a mobile app that allows EVE players to play Project Discovery, a citizen-science mini-game inside EVE Online. The app, first mentioned at Fanfest 2023, I think is planned to launch at the same time as the Spring expansion and the fourth iteration of Project Discovery.

The Project Discovery presentation at Fanfest 2023

For those unfamiliar with EVE, the article provided a brief description.
Developed in collaboration with Swiss start-up Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), Project Discovery is a unique mini-game that is quick, easy, and rewarding to play, with the substantial benefit of advancing real science. Capsuleers have already contributed in a significant way to the research into exoplanets and COVID-19, and the scope of Project Discovery will soon expand to include critical immune system diseases, including cancer. This initiative has been recognized globally, winning the Webby People’s Voice Award for contributing to science and society​​. This collaboration between EVE players and the scientific community exemplifies the potential of virtual worlds to contribute to our understanding of the real one​​. 
The article concentrated on EVE, but during the talk at Fanfest the application will also connect to other games, such as Borderlands Science. So those participating in the beta test may receive a wider exposure to all of the games MMOS has teamed up with, not just EVE.

Or perhaps not. But with the app now about to undergo public beta testing and a new EVE expansion just a couple of months away, I can imagine people doing citizen science just about anywhere.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Cloud Imperium Games Sales Revenue Down 17.2% In Q1 2024

With the beginning of April I can look back at Cloud Imperium Games' sales for the first quarter of 2024. What I found wasn't pretty. Year-over-year, sales as recorded on the CCU Game dashboard fell by 17.2%. The $17.3 million posted in 2024 was $3.6 million less than that recorded in the first quarter of 2023. The month of March was particularly bad, with revenue falling compared to March 2023 by 20%, from $9 million in 2023 down to $7.2 million in 2024. Still, the decline was not as great as the 30% year-over-year decline in January 2024.

For those wondering if the decline is due to failure to attract new players or veterans not spending as much money, I would say the answer is a little of both. The number of new user accounts created declined by 10.4% year-over-year, from 135,173 in Q1 2023 to 121,088 this year.

Overall, the recorded sales tracked on the CCU Game dashboard is $674.7 million since the launch of the Kickstarter in October 2012. But Cloud Imperium has additional funding sources not tracked by the dashboard. Overall, the company has recorded $773.3 million in confirmed revenue (the funding page & the 2022 financial report) .

  • Sales/Pledges: $674.7 million (through 31 March 2024)
  • Subscriptions: $33.0 million (through 31 December 2022)
  • All other sources: $65.6 million (through 31 December 2022)
In addition, the company has received a total of $63.25 million in outside investment. According to the 2022 financial report, $4.8 million of the amount was returned to investors in 2020. Including the outside investment money, the total amount raised by CIG to create Squadron 42 and Star Citizen is $831.8 million.

Before people start using the first quarter sales to indicate the death of CIG, remember that many commentators believe the company will begin pre-sales of Squadron 42 at CitizenCon in October. So while the company may experience some cash flow issues, as long as pre-sales come in strong, the company should wind up 2024 in decent financial shape. In the mid-term, however, we learned of a looming deadline in the first quarter of 2028. For those interested in how the story evolved, I created a timeline here.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Timeline of Cloud Imperium The UK's 2022 Financial Accounts Saga

I am starting to see some of the information from the 2022 financial accounts of Cloud Imperium UK Ltd. begin to make its way into the content of Star Citizen YouTube creators. As I kind of suspected might happen, the journey of the financial accounts kind of gets twisted along the way. As an aid to explain what has occurred so far, I thought I would put together a little timeline covering some of the events that have occurred over the past few months as well as the stories I've published. At the very least, I can provide a link to any interested parties as to what has occurred so far.

1 January 2024: The financial accounts for Cloud Imperium UK Ltd. for the year 2022 officially become late. According to PwC, Cloud Imperium's outside financial auditor, "The tax return needs to be filed within one year from the end of the accounting period." The UK Companies House website would refer to 31 December 2023 as the due date until the accounts were finally filed and posted on 11 March.

12 January 2024: I write my first blog post on the story, Cloud Imperium Games Faces £150 Fine For Failure To File 2022 Accounts. The story was amusing, if for nothing else than Star Citizens' fans continued boasting of how transparent the company was in its finances. I anticipated CIG would file the paperwork in the next few days, I'd write about CIG being good citizens after all, and the story would die.

15 January 2024: MassivelyOP's Chris Neal picks up the story. I loved his headline, Star Citizen’s CIG was hit with a measly $190 fine for… not filing its 2022 financial report on time. Honestly, the amount of the fine is so small compared to the money CIG rakes in, it's almost an irresistible story. But that kind of got Chris roped into covering the story as well. But at the time, I would have asked, "What story?"

6 February 2024: The first word of layoffs at Cloud Imperium Games' US Studios was picked up by VideoGameLayoffs.com. I included the information in a post titled Notable Video Game Industry Layoffs - 1-13 February 2024. At the time I did not realize the possibility of a connection.

15 February 2024: Over at MassivelyOP, Chris Neal posts about Star Citizen Lead Director Todd Papy leaving CIG in Star Citizen’s live game director vacates position after nine years at CIG.

26 February 2024: I noted in a post titled Cloud Imperium Games' Potential Fine Rises To £375 that Cloud Imperium UK Ltd. had failed to submit its 2022 financial accounts by 1 February, thus subjecting itself to a larger fine. At this point, I started wondering what was happening in Manchester.

Also on the 26th, Chris Neal writes an article at MassivelyOP titled Star Citizen followers uncover additional layoffs at CIG that reference relocation and restructuring. I still didn't see the connection to the tardy financial accounts.

29 February 2024: Cloud Imperium Games contacted GamesIndustry.biz about a story covering the layoffs, blandly titled Cloud Imperium hit with layoffs. CIG replied to the story, confirming that "a small number of positions were eliminated."

1 March 2024: The date Erin Roberts signed the yearly report and 2022 financial accounts on behalf of the board of directors.

5 March 2024: The date the financial accounts and report were received by UK Companies House.

11 March 2024: The date UK Companies House posted the 2022 financial accounts and yearly report to its website.

12 March 2024: I post my long anticipated article Cloud Imperium UK Ltd (Finally) Posts The Company's 2022 Annual Report and Financial Statement. At this point, I noted the presence of a new financial auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (aka PwC).

13 March 2024: The introduction to the financial accounts included information about the purchase of Turbulent Media, which I wrote about in a post titled The Final Price Of Cloud Imperium's Acquisition Of Turbulent Media: $9.8 Million Canadian. The link between the layoffs and financial reports became apparent at this point.

Also on the 13th, Chris Neal posts at MassivelyOP about the annual report, with a few additional details in his article Star Citizen finally posts its 2022 fiscal report, acknowledges Squadron 42 can’t be in ‘part finished form’. It was in the comments of this article a user named cloverfield70 pointed out the importance of the put option for the outside investors.

14 March 2024: Chris Roberts publishes a Letter From The Chairman. On the following day, Chris Neal writes a comprehensive article about the letter for MassivelyOP, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts confirms development is moving to a full 1.0 release. I continued focusing on financial matters in a post titled Chris Roberts On The Cloud Imperium Layoffs.

19 March 2024: I explored the importance of the put option in the outside investment into Cloud Imperium Games in a post titled New Details About The Calders' Investment In Cloud Imperium. Later that morning, MassivelyOP published Chris Neal's article on the same subject, Star Citizen’s 2022 financials offer additional information about investors and their expected returns. Both Chris and I noted the built in time periods in which the investors could cash out by invoking their put options.

27 March 2024: A Star Citizen YouTube creator named Morphologis created the first video I'd seen on the subject of the payout to the outside investors titled Star Citizen and Squadron 42 May Have Deadlines.


Just a note. I've mentioned Chris Neal of MassivelyOP a lot in this post. I want to note I don't know Chris and have never met him or held any conversations online with him. He has been nice enough to mention me and my blog in his articles and so I thought I should return the favor, especially since I linked to him so much in putting together this timeline.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Politicians Concerned About Domestic Terrorism In Gaming, 2024 Edition

To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.

The Guardian, December 2013

Once again, the United States is in the silly season known as a presidential election campaign. Many guilds, corporations, and free companies throughout the gaming world will prohibit discussions of politics because who needs the drama? And if political talk is allowed, the leadership of the gaming organization will contain such talk to a dedicated channel. Apparently, those who want to avoid the drama llama are not the only ones taking interest in conversations taking place in the gaming space.

An article in The Intercept looked at a GAO report requested by Representatives Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Seth Magaziner (D-RI) of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Apparently the minority party in the House is concerned with gamers potentially trying to violently overthrow the US government. The report interviewed representatives of five gaming companies, Roblox, Discord, Reddit, and a game company and social media company wishing to remain anonymous. 

We can't just pick on the House of Representative. Over in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also ratcheted up the pressure to combat extremism in the gaming space. According to The Intercept's Ken Klippenstein:

The GAO study also follows pressure from Congress to top gaming companies to crack down on extremist content. Last March, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sent letters to gaming companies Valve, Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Riot Games, Roblox Corp, and Take-Two Interactive demanding that they take actions to police gamers. 

“Unlike more traditional social media companies — which in recent years have developed public facing policies addressing extremism, created trust and public safety teams, and released transparency reports — online gaming platforms generally have not utilized these tools,” Durbin wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. In the letter, Durbin requested a briefing from the Justice Department on what channels exist “for DOJ and the online video game industry to communicate and coordinate” on the threat of “online video games by extremists and other malicious actors.”

According to Sen. Durbin, online gaming platforms are rife with white supremacist thoughts. In his letter, he called out six games where a survey indicated 30% or more of respondents encountered "white supremacist extremism": Call of Duty (44%), Grand Theft Auto (35%), Valorant (34%), World of Warcraft (31%), Fortnight (30%) and PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (30%). He also called out Steam, Roblox, and Minecraft for housing white supremacist content.

Apparently the fascination with gamers goes back to at least the Trump administration. According to Klippenstein:

Federal law enforcement and intelligence have long focused on gaming as an avenue for both radicalization and as a backdoor platform for extremists to communicate. A 2019 internal intelligence assessment jointly produced by the FBI, DHS, the Joint Special Operations Command, and the National Counterterrorism Center and obtained by The Intercept warns that “violent extremists could exploit functionality of popular online gaming platforms and applications.” The assessment lists half a dozen U.S.-owned gaming platforms that it identifies as popular, including Blizzard Entertainment’s Battle.net, Fortnite, Playstation Xbox Live, Steam, and Roblox.

Who am I kidding? The fascination goes back a lot further as the opening quote to this post shows. My first article on the subject of governments' and intelligence agencies' interest in online games was published in 2013.

Reading through the report, Appendix II shows gaming platforms pose issues for domestic intelligence agencies like the FBI not encountered when dealing with social media platforms.

Collecting information on gaming platforms. According to I&A [Office of Intelligence and Analysis] officials, personnel collect information from social media platforms, but not gaming platforms. Officials said most gamers prefer private servers where the players they interact with are there by invitation, so I&A personnel would not have access to most game sessions. They also said most gamers communicate via microphone. I&A collects text and images, but not audio. Lastly, officials said personnel are required to collect publicly available information in ways that do not involve interaction with other users, and that their presence is not observable by other users, which would not be possible in most games. (p. 39)

 I realize weird things occur with national security implications, such as leaks of equipment specifications surrounding War Thunder or people bragging about access to classified information on Discord. But it looks like the concern in the report is to combat terrorism. I wasn't a big fan of the effort back in 2013 and, to tell the truth, I'm not a big fan of government surveillance while I'm trying to play a game. Do I really have to say hello to Special Agent Smith every time I log into Discord to find out what is going on in my FFXIV free company?

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

A Busy Three Months Until Dawntrail

Over the weekend, Final Fantasy XIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida (aka Yoshi-P) announced the launch date for the game's next expansion, Dawntrail, at PAX East. The schedule of events planned leading up to the 2 July release is fairly busy, and not just with preparations for the next expansion. Players have a few key dates to pay attention to.

The first is when players can pre-order Dawntrail and get all the goodies. That day is ... today. Those who pre-order the expansion will receive a Wind-up Zidane Minion and Azeyma's Earrings. Usually the earrings will provide a levelling bonus to help get alt jobs up to the level cap and are available before the expansion drops.

For those ordering, just a reminder that the minimum and recommended specs on PC will increase from the current settings.

Minimum and recommended requirements for PC

One change announced at PAX East is the minimum CPU is now a Intel® Core™ i7-7700 or higher. The previously announced card not only had issues in certain combinations, but will no longer be supported for Windows.

A day after the Little Lady's Day and Hatching Tide event ends, the cross-over event with Final Fantasy XVI on 2 April. Players will want to partake of the event if only for access to the Torgal mount and Torgal Pup minion. In order to participate in the event, players must be at least level 50 and have completed the main scenario quest "The Ultimate Weapon". In addition to the mount, minion, and a four-piece set of armor, players can also obtain a Triple Triad card and 10 orchestration rolls. If the FFXVI cross-over event works like the one with FFXV, players will need to obtain a lot of MGP from the Gold Saucer. The event ends on 8 May.

Will players be able to pet Torgal?

Something not yet mentioned is a Moogle Treasure Trove event. These events turn up periodically when a content drought would normally happen. I can see the next Moogle Treasure Trove beginning on 21 May and ending when the servers go down for the Dawntrail launch.

A couple of more details about the launch of Dawntrail. The early access period for those who pre-order the expansion is Friday, 28 June. Yoshi-P played to the crowd by referencing the upcoming DLC for Elden Ring due out on 21 June. He told the audience he had planned to release Dawntrail one week earlier but was going to allow players to enjoy the new Elden Ring content for a week before putting them in a position to choose between the two games.


Finally, comes the price of the expansion. The expansion comes in four flavors.


For those who like physical items, the Collector's Edition comes with all the physical items and all digital items for $214.99. The Collector's Box by itself costs $155.00 and contains five items: Dawntrail Special Art Box, Expertly Crafted Viper Figure, Adventurer’s Cloth Map, the Unending Journey, and Adventurer’s Pen Case. I'm not sure if shipping and handling is included.

For those only interested in downloadable content, Square Enix provides two options. The Standard Edition costs $39.99 and just provides the base expansion. The Digial Collector's Edition costs $20 more and has three items: The ARK mount, Garnet minion, and a weapon for the new Pictomancer class, a Chocobo Brush.

Friday, March 22, 2024

The Run-up To EVE Online's Spring 2024 Expansion Heats Up

With the release of the latest Scope video today, my speculation that CCP will revamp learning skills in the upcoming expansion are probably wishful thinking. The snatches of coded documents first revealed two weeks ago appear connected to EVE: Vanguard and the new warclones coming sometime next year. Unless, of course, upcoming play testing in the second half of 2024 will affect the live server cluster Tranquility. But the more intriguing question is, what is a corporation best known for its electronic warfare equipment doing in the middle of this story?

The Scope video begins with the story of a Chemal Tech convoy travelling from the Oursulaert system two jumps from Luminaire in Essence to the Intaki Bank Depository in the system of TXW-EI in Syndicate. TXW-EI is one of two entry systems into Syndicate from the factional warzone region of Placid.

Just who is Chemal Tech? The NPC corporation doesn't have an entry I could find in the standard universe lore portal so I turned to Dotlan maps.

Chemal Tech is an established hi-tech company that was at the forefront of electronic warfare technology a few decades back. Though the fortunes of the company have somewhat dimmed since then it still cranks out top quality EW equipment.

Going down the rabbit hole, turns out the current event is not Chemal Tech's first involvement with coded messages and shady dealings involving those trading in biotech. Way back in YC109 (that's 2007 outside the game), Chemal Tech became linked to Eifyr and Co due to a coded document.

The meeting itself appeared innocuous enough on the surface; a small gathering of representatives discussing mutually beneficial research and development agreements – the likes of which happen all the time between the Federation and Republic. The Krusual tribe however, with its 22% shareholder control in Eifyr & Co. is no stranger to speculation, particularly the wild kind and particularly in recent months.

One major factor spurring the most recent bout of rumours has been the leak of a coded document belonging to Chemal Tech. The document clearly names the Republic Security Services alongside Chemal Tech and the Kalaakiota Corporation. Whilst it still has not been deciphered some two months later, the document nevertheless has implicated the Minmatar Republic in the recent high-profile defection of one of Kalaakiota’s leading researchers Hirento Autinen.

Veteran players may remember Eifyr and Co. due to its relationship with Dr. Hilen Tukoss, another scientist who defected from the Caldari State. Back in YC113 (aka 2011), Dr. Tukoss was involved in the Arek'Jaalan Project and then two years later became linked to the Drifters

Unlike the events of 17 years ago, the scientists were not defecting to a rival but instead were heading to a supposedly safe location in Syndicate. Unlike Chemal Tech, the Intaki Syndicate has plenty of information available in the lore.

Initially formed by exiles from the Gallente Federation during the Gallente-Caldari War, the Intaki Syndicate resides within its namesake region of Syndicate, bordering the federation. Over the course of the last century, the syndicate has slowly grown in stature, working to increase its political and financial capital to ensure it remains an important link between the core empires and the illegal elements found in the outer regions.

The settled planets and stations within the syndicate operate as autonomous, financially and politically independent entities, all of which cooperate on the basis of collective information sharing and provision of security. Although widely regarded as a pirate haven, the syndicate still maintains enough rule of law within its territories to allow almost anyone to pass through or travel for business. To this end, since empire policing within its borders has always been a relatively rare occurrence, the syndicate set up its own law enforcement arm in YC 72, branded as Intaki Space (ISP), to encourage prospective customers to travel without fear within its borders. Although rumored to be highly corrupt, this organization is ruthless when it comes to quelling unrest and is generally regarded as a heavy-handed but highly effective law enforcement entity.

However, the convoy never reached Syndicate, being destroyed on its way to the NPC null sec region, presumably by Fraternity., one of the major player null sec alliances. Fraternity. also houses a group involved in deciphering messages like the ones in the current event. 

In the news scroll across the bottom of the video were the following items.

  • IRIS says “wait and see” to rumors of a Paragon artistic platform.

  • CDIA seeking information on Arkombine figure identified as "Lifegiver" following reappearance of alias in Deathless communications.

  • Lifegiver alias originally noted by DED in YC115-116 reports in connection with suspected Guristas and Angel Cartel elements.

  • SOCT launches new Abyssal Deadspace astronomical observation program.

  • First ever Shapash lost in combat during an engagement in system of Aset.

  • Empress Catiz I issues summons to border region holders demanding an explanation for rising pirate activity in Amarr space.

  • Families of kidnapped Chemal Tech scientists gather in Oursulaert for silent vigil.

  • AIR prepares to publish first findings from their capsuleer research program.

  • Recoverable materials suggest use of mass-fabricated Jovian clones as platform for Vanguard warclone blanks.

  • GRNJ-3 Intaki Space Police station break-in targeted prototype dropsuits developed in partnership with Mordu's Legion.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

At Look At February 2024's Active ISK Delta

I'm a little late looking at EVE Online's Monthly Economic Report (MER) for February 2024. I can't totally blame a dying PC for wiping out all my work because apparently all my Excel spreadsheets saved to the cloud. But just like my dearly departed 6 month old computer, what happened to the Active ISK Delta wasn't pretty.

Showing the Active ISK Delta in the modern expansions era

The Active ISK Delta is the amount of ISK that departs the in-game economy due to players leaving the game (either voluntarily or through GM actions) plus the amount of ISK reentering the game due to players returning to play EVE. Since the Viridian expansion launched last summer, the amounts of fluctuation has increased considerably.

Three of the largest declines occurred in the last 6 months

In February, the Active ISK Delta was -75.3 trillion ISK, meaning that 75.3 trillion ISK, or 3.6% of New Eden's money supply, was removed from the economy due to players winning EVE, even if temporarily. In my records going back to the beginning of the free-to-play Alpha and Omega era, February's figure was the 4th largest decline in the money supply caused by players leaving the game since January 2017. In fact, the combined Active ISK Delta of 136.8 trillion ISK for the first two months of the game almost equals the entire Active ISK Delta (149.4 trillion ISK) for all of 2023.

Average Concurrent Users 1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024

Part of the explanation for February's Active ISK Delta is undoubtedly the approximate decline of 1000 users logged on at any one time last month. But why did that happen? Are null sec players getting tired of low sec and want to play at home? The last three expansions were directed toward low security space, after all. Has CCP gone on a bot and illicit RMT banning spree? I've stopped monitoring the shady websites so can't address that angle anymore. Or is the introduction of testing a first-person shooter module making some players think EVE is no longer the game they loved to play? Since one cause is usually not the answer, perhaps all three apply.

I realize that the first hints about the next expansion only came out two weeks ago. I'm also fairly confident CCP will announce something on the first day of next month to get the player base excited for the future. I just wish CCP would start making some noise and letting the players know what is coming up next in EVE. I'd like to see the trend with the Active ISK Delta change to something a bit more positive.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

EVE: Vanguard Patch Notes For The March Playtest

The fourth playtest session for EVE: Vanguard, CCP Games' new first-person-shooter module for EVE Online currently under development is scheduled to run from tomorrow, 21 March at 1200 UTC, to Monday, 25 March at 1200 UTC. Open to all players with EVE Online Omega accounts, CCP published an article describing the additions and changes for the March playtest weekend. 

I read through the article and translated the contents into a patch note format. The highlights from outside looking in are the inclusion of mining and suppression contracts. Mining because the function will nicely fit into Project Awakening, a survival game that will likely incorporate much of EVE: Vanguard into the world. The inclusion of suppression contracts allows players to fight either for the empires (Amar, Caldari, Gallente, Minmatar) or the pirates of the Deathless Circles. These fights have the potential to affect EVE Online directly.

Below is my writeup of the points of the article.

Armor

These updates aim to deepen tactical gameplay and visually distinguish Vanguard from NPCs on the battlefield. 

  • A new warclone suit for players now available
  • A new and updated suit for NPCs

Contracts

Warclones now have a choice between sides in the ongoing struggle between order and disorder in New Eden. All corruption contracts have received suppression versions, leveling the playing field between the two sides.

  • Mining contracts introduced
  • Suppression contracts introduced
  • Combat and rewards have received balancing improvements. 

Crafting

  • Minable resources added to crafting recipes
  • Energy ammo now craftable using mined resources

Mining

  • New Mining Laser Prototype
  • Allows mining of ore
  • Passively scans for ore when equipped

NPC Loot

  • NPCs now drop ammunition as well as biomass

    • Higher ranking NPCs drop more kinetic ammo than their lowlier counterparts
    • Elite NPCs drop energy ammo

Playtest Rewards

  • Receive the Corax Arkombine Arisen SKIN for exchanging biomass for a clone 20 times as part of a squad of two or more.
  • Receive the Osprey Navy Issue Arkombine Arisen SKIN for harvesting 2,000 units of ore from mining.
  • Acquiring 20 clones as part of a squad counts toward a longer-term challenge in June.
    • To unlock the big reward, players need to complete at least 4 of 6 monthly challenges.

  • The top 10 on the leaderboard for most credits extracted during the event will receive PLEX.

Fixes

  • Multiple server performance improvements have been made, including fixes to server and client crashes. 
  • An issue with deployable shields being active longer than they should has been fixed. 
  • An issue has been fixed, which allowed players to perform multiple actions simultaneously, that should have been mutually exclusive, such as healing and gathering resources. 
  • Push-to-talk has received multiple improvements, including fixes to key binding and operational errors. 
  • An issue with death box animations has been fixed. 
  • An issue allowing players to simultaneously sprint, and place equipment has been fixed. 
  • An issue allowing players to interact with out-of-range objects has been fixed. 
  • An issue with the deployment summary screen displaying incorrect information has been resolved. 
  • Display errors with contract objectives have been addressed. 
  • An issue with NPCs moving at great speed or appearing to teleport across the map has been addressed. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

New Details About The Calders' Investment In Cloud Imperium

Cloud Imperium UK Ltd.'s financial accounts for 2022 have provided a fair bit of content this year. First, the accounts were not filed on time with UK Companies House. When the accounts finally showed up in March we discovered an audit by a new accounting firm found discrepancies dating back to 2015. As a bonus Cloud Imperium included information about the July 2023 acquisition of Turbulent Media. After further reading, the 2022 financial accounts also provide additional information about the investment of Clive and Keith Calder in Cloud Imperium Games.


  • Cloud Imperium (both the UK Ltd and the US LLC legal entities) have agreed a private investment from an external party amounting to approximately $46 million in exchange for new shares being issued (113,861 in each of the UK and US entities), amounting to approximately 10% of the overall company. This gives the various entities a combined valuation of approximately $496 million once the new money is taken into account.

  • Two new board members join the boards of both the UK and US entities, these being Dan Offner, representing the new investors (Clive and Keith Calder), as well as Eli Klein who is a long-time friend of Chris Roberts and has apparently been a sometime advisor in recent years.

  • Board and company control remains with Chris Roberts as Chairman, CEO and majority shareholder.

  • Money to be used for marketing and business development initiatives as Squadron 42 and Star Citizen head towards launch.

  • CIG will release full historical financial details from 2012 through to 2017 via a new corporate website.

  • Squadron 42 roadmap released and is expected to be feature complete by the end of 2019 with alpha/beta in 2020.

In March 2020 Cloud Imperium received a second round of investment of $17.25 million, bringing the total up to $63.25 million.

Up until now, the public knew the amount of money received by Cloud Imperium. With the release of the 2022 financial accounts, we now know the returns the investment group expects to receive.

from page 37 of the 2022 financial accounts

A contingent liability exists with respect to 1,877,400 of the 11,715,800 issued shares as at 31 December 2022. The holders of the 1,877,400 shares have the right to put their shares back to the Company for repurchase at a minimum return premium of 6% per annum on the initial purchase price. For 1,599,900 shares they also have a value formula based upon the three years' average revenue leading up to the start of the exercise period.
At this point in the explanation, I needed to look up the definition of a put option. According to Investopedia:
A put option (or “put”) is a contract giving the option buyer the right, but not the obligation, to sell—or sell short—a specified amount of an underlying security at a predetermined price within a specified time frame.
In other words, the 6% per annum figure is the floor for which the Calders can expect to receive from their investment. The higher the sales, the more their investment is worth.

I need to explain that the Calders were not the only investors. Eli Klein's Infatrade Group Corporation currently owns 277,500 shares of Cloud Imperium UK Ltd and presumably the same number of shares (or at least the same percentage) in the US portion of the business. Klein was one of the two new directors brought onto the board when the first round of investment was announced. 

With the explanation of Klein's involvement out of the way, here are the periods the various investors could exercise their put options.
  • 1 January 2024 to 31 March 2024 - Klein
  • 1 January 2025 to 31 March 2025 - Calders
  • 1 January 2028 to 31 March 2028 - All
Due to the lateness of the submission of the accounts, we already know Klein declined to exercise his 2024 option. CIG is maintaining the likelihood of the Calders exercising their option in 2025 is remote. If correct, then the first quarter of 2028 is key, as if the investors plan on cashing out according to the existing plan, they will need to do so then.

If the investors exercise their put options, the minimum amount of money they will receive is $115 million, their initial $63.25 million plus an additional $51.8 million at 6% annual interest. But CIG used a figure of 7.32% as an estimate of how much investors would receive, which would push the figure up to $130 million in 2028.

To put the $130 million figure into context, CIG spent $129.4 million in 2022. The money involved warranted the following paragraph:
Another reason for not recognising is due to the nature of the put terms, as if exercised the put proceeds would be payable out of available cash in excess of that required to effectively operate the business and thus that liability would remain undischarged until such available cash became available.
Hopefully such an eventuality never occurs as many Star Citizen content creators expect the announcement of the sale of copies of Squadron 42, even if only pre-orders, at CitizenCon this October. If priced at an expected $70 per copy, Cloud Imperium will only need to sell around 4 million copies to pay off the investors. No need to worry, right?

Friday, March 15, 2024

Chris Roberts On The Cloud Imperium Layoffs

Yesterday Cloud Imperium Games founder and CEO Chris Roberts published a "Letter From The Chairman." Outside the annual CitizenCon event held every October, these posts are the main ways Roberts communicates with the fanbase for Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. Posted near the end of all the game related updates, Roberts addressed the layoffs in CIG's studios in the United States.

At the top of the interest scale, Roberts confirmed that Todd Papy, the former Persistent Universe Live Director, was fired for not relocating back to the U.K.

As part of this reorganization, we sadly waved goodbye to the Persistent Universe Live Director, Todd Papy as he had moved back to the US from the UK last year for family reasons, and after much soul searching, I determined that we cannot afford to have this role remote from the main team in Manchester for a good portion of the year. It is a sad moment, as Todd worked diligently for the last 9 years on Star Citizen, making many important contributions and providing excellent leadership of his teams. I wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing what he does next.

Some might have thought Papy would have received a better send-off, but Roberts finally said some nice things about a key player in the development of Star Citizen while the main effort of the company was finishing Squadron 42. Rich Tyrer, the game director for Squadron 42, will also take over Papy's role. I will note that Roberts waited until SQ42 was declared "feature complete" and the developers from Star Citizen began to return to work on the MMO before firing Papy.

The more interesting tidbit in the Letter From The Chairman concerned the restructuring occurring in the United States. Game development in Los Angeles has ended.

As part of this, we made the difficult decision to ask the Los Angeles development team, which had increasingly been providing support for the main development teams based in Manchester, to relocate to join other teams, primarily in Manchester, but also in Austin and Montreal. Los Angeles, while shrinking, will still be an important office for the company, but one focusing on a business support role with Marketing, Finance, Legal and HR.

I am not sure the technical terminology, but for all practical purposes, CIG shut down its game studio in Los Angeles. Roberts noted that he himself has moved from Los Angeles to Austin.

I don't follow Star Citizen closely, but from everything I read up until now, the known layoffs were occurring in the Austin studio. Those laid off due to restructuring included Austin QA lead Vincent Sinatra, Austin senior QA analyst Andrew Rexroth, and level designer Dane Kubicka, also from Austin.

With the closing of the Los Angeles studio, I have to wonder if people in the Austin office were laid off in order to have space for developers willing to relocate from Los Angeles. Or, signaling worse financial news, the staff laid off in Austin were part of another restructuring move.

CIG is the company that just keeps feeding me stories about which to write. But I had to write about this one, if only because the game studio in Los Angeles is no more. And the closure also explains why this year's CitizenCon is being held in Manchester and not southern California in 2024.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Reading Through Project Awakening's Latest Press Release

On Wednesday CCP issued a press release granting the general public some sort of idea what Project Awakening is all about. Since I'm a blogger and not a games journalist, I'm going to copy large portions of the press release into this post, but with a twist. After every paragraph, I'm going to give my thoughts. Interested? Let's begin.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – March 13, 2024 – Today, CCP Games is excited to reveal the first details about Project Awakening and announce PHASE III, the next closed playtest for the in-development title set within the EVE Universe, starting May 21, 2024.

Interesting that the first paragraph provides useful information, namely that a closed playtest will occur in about two months.

With a 26-year studio history, Project Awakening represents the next step in CCP Games’ journey to create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life. Designed with player empowerment at its heart, Project Awakening is being developed as a single-shard survival experience built upon the principles of freedom, consequence, and mastery within a living universe. A universe that will evolve from the actions and efforts of its players.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Final Price Of Cloud Imperium's Acquisition Of Turbulent Media: $9.8 Million Canadian

Back in February I attempted to calculate how much money Cloud Imperium Games made (or lost) in 2023 and the revenues required to break even in 2024. As part of the effort I attempted to assess how much money CIG spent to acquire Turbulent Media, a key outsourcing partner working not only working on CIG's website infrastructure but parts of Star Citizen as well. The answer is in the financial accounts submitted to UK Companies House, but those were not received until 3 March and only posted on Monday. In their absence, I estimated the cost was $29.6 million USD. According to the documentation, I was off by a factor of 4.

Actual Transaction Cost, p36 of the 2022 accounts

According to the accounts:

Cloud Imperium UK Ltd. sold it's 25% shareholding in Turbulent Media Inc to 9491-4561 Quebec Inc on 2 July 2023 in exchange for 25% of the share capital of 9491-4561 Quebec Inc. Cloud Imperium UK Ltd. acquired the remaining 75% of 9491-4561 Quebec Inc on 2 July 2023 for a consideration including professional fees of $9,843,791 Canadian Dollars. The entity 9491-4561 Quebec Inc is the ultimate parent company of Turbulent Media Inc.

The conversion rate on 2 July 2023 puts the U.S. currency price at $7.4 million U.S. Dollars.

If I've read all CIG's available financial documents correctly, CIG did not pay the entire amount in cash. I estimated the 30,120 shared given to Turbulent's co-founders Marc Beaudet and Benoit Beausejour was worth approximately $1.3 million. That's assuming the value of CIG has not gone up over the last 6 years. If the value has gone up, the amount of cash needed to complete the sale goes down.

If CIG only needed up to $6 million to complete the acquisition then they either could have paid cash from the company's reserves or used its line of credit (possibly wrong terminology) with Coutts & Co. until the tax rebate from the U.K. government arrived. The small amount needed would mean CIG did not need to go to another bank, which is a good thing as Coutts & Co holds a charge over all of CIG's rights, title, and interest in Star Citizen and Squadron 42.

This post is a mea culpa for my previous bad estimate for the acquisition price of Turbulent Media by Cloud Imperium. I'll have to go back to my previous post and put in a correction. Getting the information straight from a document submitted to U.K. Companies House is a lot better than the information I tried to compile from sources on the Internet.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Cloud Imperium UK Ltd (Finally) Posts The Company's 2022 Annual Report and Financial Statement

Yesterday, Companies House posted the annual report and group financial statement for the year 2022 for Cloud Imperium UK Ltd, the company that controls all non-US operations. The lateness of the paperwork, stamped on 3 March, will probably result in a fine of £375. But the reason for the late submission is probably worth the cost.

The delayed filing included an adjustment for errors dating from 2015 to 2021. According to the document:

The Company has presented publishing costs as deferred costs under debtors: amounts falling due after more than a year in each accounting year in the period 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2021. The publishing costs should have been presented within cost of sales in the statement of comprehensive income.

The current year publishing costs have been correctly classified in cost of sales and the prior year comparatives as at 31 December 2021 have been restated to conform with current year presentation.

There are changes to the Company statement of comprehensive income. Company statement of financial position and company Statement of changes in equity as a result of this reclassification.

When people want to find out about Star Citizen, they visit the Roberts Space Industries website. What many may not realize is RSI is a real company whose full name is Roberts Space Industries International Limited, a subsidiary of Cloud Imperium. The adjustments in question concern RSI.

The adjustments

The aggregate amount of publishing costs incorrectly listed from January 2015 to December 2021 was a little under £5.6 million. The total impact to the cost of sales rose by £1.7 million in 2021.

Considering the subject involves Star Citizen, I am sure someone somewhere will list this as Chris Roberts running some sort of embezzlement scheme. From what I can see, that's not the case. Up until recently, the independent auditor looking at CIG's books was Saffery Champness LLP, who performed the audits of the reports and financial statements during the time in question. For the 2022 financial statement, CIG switched to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. A fresh set of eyes caught the mistake.

Personally, I can now say I followed the story to its conclusion, unless the UK government takes further action. A quick read-through of the document did show a couple of tidbits I need to write about. After that, I can put CIG's year of 2022 behind me.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Will The Next EVE Online Expansion Address Learning Attributes?

I've wondered when CCP would begin dropping hints about the planned spring expansion for EVE Online. Apparently the wait is over.
Partially Corrupted Cryschips generated some interest are a new item introduced for the pre-launch event.
This advanced cryschip is configured to store holographic data but has been heavily corrupted and partially wiped by a security protocol. In this instance the protocol was violently interrupted and some fragmentary data may remain accessible amongst the vast quantity of randomized information on this cryschip.

With just the right approach it may be possible to track down and decode what remains, thereby accessing a coherent data stream. Curious capsuleers may profit by trying data retrieval and seeing if something clicks.
The new items showed up on Hoboleaks with 120 entries in the table. The items are no longer hidden as players are finding the items and piecing them together.

What was found as of Saturday

Looking at the images found so far, the next expansion may incorporate a revamp of learning attributes. Usually changes are sent to players in encrypted form and from what I see, attributes are at least getting a revamp. And if attributes are getting a revamp, so are learning implants. Learning implants are often credited with inhibiting PvP because players don't want to fight with expensive learning implants in their clones. Is this a time the developers may address this complaint I've heard for 15 years?

Expansions always invite speculation. Introducing change through in-game means helps fulfill the exploration urge in many players. Now, when do we get the name of the expansion and a launch date?

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Looking At Star Citizen Through Clarke's Third Law

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Clarke's Third Law

I am sure fans of Chris Roberts, the head of Cloud Imperium Games, love the Arthur C. Clarke's Second Law: 

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

Describes the entire Squadron 42/Star Citizen project, started in 2012, perfectly, doesn't it? And the first law also seems relevant:

“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

Replace "elderly scientist" with "video game executive" and the original pitch video makes a lot of sense.


But I'm thinking of Clarke's more famous Third Law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Because as we approach the launch of Squadron 42 sometime in the next year or so, Roberts' Star Citizen universe becomes real enough to begin making comparisons to another sci-fi simulator, EVE Online.

No, I'm not referring to the ability of CCP to easily host fights an order of magnitude larger than the Star Citizen servers maximum capacity. At this point, I'm referring to how far in the future each game's universe is in terms of time. Based on the dates I see placed on events such as CitizenCon, the Star Citizen universe is set 900 years in the future. New Eden, the cluster in which EVE Online takes place, is set 20,000 years into the future. So while the space combat in Squadron 42 and Star Citizen is designed with Newtonian physics in mind, no one had ever heard of Sir Isaac Newton in the EVE universe. Instead, EVE spaceships use a different set of rules, referred to as "enhanced physics".


I looked for an example where the technology between the Newtonian world of Star Citizen and that of the PEG spaceships of New Eden partially matched. The example I came up with is cargo hauling. In Star Citizen, the current king of hauling is the MISC Hull C. With the ability to carry 4,600 m3 of cargo, the ship sells for $500 in the Star Citizen cash shop. A comparable ship in EVE is the Wreathe one of the oldest ships, at least lore-wise, from the Minmatar Republic. When doing a playthrough on a free-to-play account with limited skills, I could fit almost 4,940 m3 of cargo in the ship. The ship cost no real life money as the initial career agent missions will hand out a couple of such ships. If I really wanted to buy the ship and all its fittings, I'd estimate the real world cost is 50 cents to $1 if I purchased PLEX. The ship itself is not sold in the EVE cash shop.

Why the big difference in price for a ship with similar capabilities between the two games. I'd say the advanced technology of New Eden, some 22,000 years in Star Citizen's future, makes all the difference in the world. Not only is the ship much more easier to obtain, but the technology of the New Eden cluster, especially its economy, is much more advanced as well. One might even call the difference magical.

BitCraft Announced Alpha For 2 April 2024

This morning I woke up to an interesting announcement on a Discord server. A game from Clockwork Labs called BitCraft is launching its first alpha on 2 April 2024. Here is the trailer.


The game looks okay for an alpha, but why am I following BitCraft? Admittedly the game is not my usual type of game. The tie-in for me is that CCP Games is financially invested in the studio developing the game. According to Crunchbase, in April 2022 CCP Games participated in a $22 million round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, the same company that led the $40 million funding round for Project Awakening.

I figure I should keep an eye on BitCraft, especially since one of the co-founders of Clockwork Labs isn't exactly the biggest fan of blockchain technology in video games.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

How I Convert Pearl Abyss Financial Numbers To U.S. Dollars

I don't think the fact that the large majority of the readership of The Nosy Gamer lives in the United States would surprise many people. But considering I mainly write about a game made by Icelandic developers owned by a South Korean company does present a challenge. How do I report the financial numbers in U.S. dollars instead of South Korean won? 

Fortunately, CCP ehf, the official name for CCP Games, uses the U.S. dollar as its functional currency and has since 2007. But that just leaves a dilemma with Pearl Abyss' quarterly earnings calls. CCP records its finances in U.S. dollars. The information is sent to Pearl Abyss' corporate headquarters in Anyang, South Korea, where the currency is converted to the won and placed in Power Point decks. I then convert the figure back to dollars for my articles on the earnings calls.

To even get close to the original figure, I turn to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Amongst the economic data available on the site is a chart showing the quarterly conversion rate of the won to the dollar as calculated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. I take the quarterly exchange rate, plug it into a Google Sheet I maintain with all the Pearl Abyss data I've extracted from the earnings calls, and get my conversions. Easy.


South Korean won (KRW) in billions, USD in millions

I've double checked the conversions by adding up the quarterly conversions of EVE IP revenue with the actual reported data from CCP's publicly available records filed with the the Icelandic Revenue and Customs agency. In three of the four previous years, the amount of USD calculated from the earnings calls was only 0.3% larger than the ones found in the tax documents. In only one year, 2021, was the number in the earnings calls lower (by 0.1%). Honestly, I consider the approximately $100 thousand discrepancy for the year a rounding error.

I should add the table above is for EVE IP data only. In 2022, overall CCP ehf. revenue was $68.6 million due to $12.5 million in "revenue from supply of services", which occurred somewhere in "South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia and Oceania".

Hopefully this little article will explain just where all my U.S. dollar figures come from when the won is involved.