The Daily Grind: Why does EVE survive where other PvP sandboxes stumble?

MOP reader Tobasco da Gama pointed us to a recent Reddit thread about why EVE Online persists, even in a weakened state, where other hardcore PvP sandboxes fail. The thread OP posits that in spite of what he calls “CCP’s criminal level of mismanagement and incompetence,” EVE has outlasted other games of its ilk, from Darkfall and Mortal Online to Albion Online and pre-Trammel Ultima Online. The reason? He argues it’s because the vast majority of players who don’t quit outright never leave high-sec and aren’t actually playing the “hardcore” PvP game that New Eden is known for at all. In other words? Most people playing EVE are carebears.

Fightin’ words, right? It makes a lot of sense to me, frankly, and since my husband still plays EVE, I’ve seen the phenomenon in action, that the toxic part of the playerbase perpetually eclipses the majority of normal folks just happily space mining and killing pirates and watching their skill bars go up.

Why do you think EVE survives where other PvP sandboxes stumble?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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71 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Why does EVE survive where other PvP sandboxes stumble?"

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zeko_rena

Because it is an excellent sandbox.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

“the vast majority of players who don’t quit outright never leave high-sec and aren’t actually playing the “hardcore” PvP game that New Eden is known for at all. ”

That part right there. It’s what made me think ArcheAge would work. Then the whole decay system went out, more grind/gear hunting was added, etc.

But back to the topic, I fully agree that even hardcore PvP games need safe zones. You need a place where you can rest and progress, even slowly. Players can’t constantly police their gameworld the same way we do it in real life without international servers (or at least, we can’t do it in a healthy manner since I think most of us want to sleep at 4am).

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Little Bugbear

From an outsiders perspective EVE seems to have a lot of Micromanagement (ships, resources, etc). My guess is that most of the “carebears” like the management aspect of the game, the business or simply the routine. A good sandbox has business and political drama causes business (wars cost resources). All the drama in EVE keeps the games economy active.

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starbuck1771

EVE is Life!

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cista2bpo

Empire space is non-PvP, so EVE it’s not a PvP game .

Aelzen
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Aelzen

I wouldn’t say non-pvp, rather empire space has punishment for pvping. You can absolutely fit a gank catalyst and blow someone up uninvited, but you’ll get blown up by concord (the npc police) in response. Sometimes it’s worth it.

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cista2bpo

That is more like a business transaction, and can be easily avoided. Basically, if you are in a high sec corporation, and your members want to do PvP, then you move your corporation to low sec or null sec.
There are certain acts of PvP that can occur in high sec. But the question was, why is EVE so succesful, and I believe the zoning is one of the reasons.

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Arktouros

Lots of reasons.

First lets address that most PvP oriented games are typically done by relatively tiny companies that aren’t exactly the best developers. So CCP is actually pretty par the course for most PvP sandbox developers. Shadowbane devs literally let people hack their servers and become GMs lol…

Second their business model of allowing PLEX to be sold in game was ahead of it’s time when introduced back around 2008. Now most games, even the venerable WOW, has some sort of cash shop model regardless if it’s B2P, F2P or Subscription. This lets people convert their RL funds to in game cash and in turn lets players convert their income in game to game time.

Thirdly while they’ve started to take tougher approaches lately, they’ve largely gone hands off on what happens in game. There’s really pretty much no where safe in EVE. If you’re a high-sec mission runner there’s going to be people who will scan you down and steal your salvage. If you’re a freighter carrying goods there’s people going to scan your cargo and determine if you’re worth a gank. There’s even people who will try to kill you as high sec Miner or “bump” you out of range constantly. Most games would have gotten progressively “safer” to try to bring more players in but CCP embraces the hostile environment.

Fourth and finally, of course, internet spaceships. Just isn’t much competition out there for that. While I’m sure our children’s children will finally see Starcitizen as a competitor EVE just hasn’t had a rival for space stuff otherwise.

borghive
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borghive

EVE has outlasted other games of its ilk, from Darkfall and Mortal Online to Albion Online and pre-Trammel Ultima Online.

I honestly think this sub genre has never been done justice by the MMO world. All the examples above are poorly made games with dated graphics and IPs that have limited appeal, it is no wonder these games have niche audiences. I would love to see a developer actually make a 2017 PVP MMO that had modern 3D graphics along with a more appealing IP.

Now to answer the people that will post and say that “open world pvp games have limited appeal in general”,one need to look no further than the massive success the survival game market has seen, or the success of MOBAs and arena shooters. PVP games have huge appeal, the top 5 games on Twitch are all pvp games. It is time for a MMO dev to take a chance and make truly make a modern PVP MMO. :)

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Schmidt.Capela

Now to answer the people that will post and say that “open world pvp games have limited appeal in general”,one need to look no further than the massive success the survival game market has seen, or the success of MOBAs and arena shooters.

Which speaks for survival games, MOBAs, and arena shooters. There’s a huge difference in how those games play, and are received by the public, and how an open PvP MMO plays and is received by the public. If that wasn’t the case, you likely wouldn’t care for not having a MMO PvP game due to being able to play PvP on MOBAs and survival games.

It is time for a MMO dev to take a chance and make truly make a modern PVP MMO. :)

UO was, for its time, a big budget, cutting edge sandbox game with open PvP.

How it all went down is what convinced just about every publisher with the money to spare to never again make an AAA-budget game with PvP like it. And how badly big budget open PvP imports did, like Archeage, further cemented among publishers the perception that there is little money to be made from that kind of game.

Publishers — which is to say, the guys who control the purse strings — will only bankroll big budget games if they are quite certain they will be a success. And one of the requirements for reassuring them is very successful games existing in the same genre. Which means that until a low budget open PvP MMO becomes a huge success, or else an open PvP import gains a huge following, the chance of an occidental AAA open PvP MMO being made is about the same as that of a snowball remaining frosty in hell.

borghive
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borghive

UO was very popular as well as Archeage. Archeage struggled because of it’s horrible cash shop. Many people even to this day would probably still be playing Archeage if it didn’t have cash shop issues. Also, Black Desert Online is also mostly a PVP game and is pretty successful as well.

I guess we will have to wait and see how Crowfall and CU do, maybe I am wrong about the whole thing, but I got a feeling these games are going to do well.

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Schmidt.Capela

UO is one of the strongest cases ever for making PvP truly optional, since it doubled its player base after Trammel was added (and did that while competing with the newer, more graphically impressive Everquest).

Black Desert Online is a big budget import that is somewhat restrictive in its open PvP, preventing any non-consensual PvP with players below lv50, and above that there’s enough penalties for attacking a “clean” player that a lot of PvPers complain they can’t even force others out of “their” grind spot (if the target keeps returning to the grind spot, the PvPer is going to get a harsher penalty for repeatedly killing the target than the target will get for being repeatedly killed). So, its success when other PvP MMOs failed can also be seen as an endorsement for more restrictions on PvP.

Crownfall and CU could potentially change that, but they would need to be wildly successful, far more successful than their devs expect; both games are aiming at being small budget niche games, serving their fans as well as possible without compromising their ideals to attract mainstream gamers, so none of them is expected to become profitable enough to catch the attention of publishers looking to create new AAA games. Reaching that kind of unexpected success has happened before, though — Blizzard expected WoW to have about 200K subscribers, for example —, but it can’t be predicted.

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Schmidt.Capela

IMHO one of the reasons is because EVE is sucking most of the oxygen available for the genre, so to speak.

It’s the same thing that happened with WoW, up to when it started to lose subscribers with Cataclysm: it was so big, drawing in so much of the potential player base for games like it, that it wouldn’t allow other games to grow. EVE seems to work in a similar way: most players interested in open PvP with the kind of political play that EVE is famous for seem to be playing EVE already, so other games that bet on this kind of gameplay can’t get enough players to be successful.

To make things worse for those games, a good part of the potential player base for open PvP games seem to prefer the short term character development and the far more common resets of survival games. This seems to be limiting the natural growth of the player base in EVE’s niche, making it even harder for EVE competitors to gain any traction.

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Robert Mann

Invested base, more sand (as compared to many “sandboxes” that are more recent,) some ‘safety’ aspects for those looking for a lighter experience. Social gaming.

The challenge of any upcoming sandbox is to draw from those who might be interested, provide enough freedom to do things that it doesn’t make people like me respond “NO, that’s not a sandbox!” when places like MOP use the term, and also keeps the PvP shenanigans from being a massive negative at all times. For example, Shards or Aria or whatever produced a big negative with not being wise enough to turn off PvP in the introductory area on an Alpha stress test. The number of people I heard or saw declare the game dead to them off that was amazing. Even with the custom shard idea, that little bit of people being asshats was too much and too soon. Whether that perception will stick with them, or if they can change that at all, is something we all have yet to see, of course.

The point is, that even in the sandboxes of real life there are rules. If you act like a jerk, somebody is going to cave your nose in or get somebody with more authority and power than you have. No matter how good everything else is in a sandbox game, if you give minimal consequences to being an asshat, a lot of people will be asshats. Very few other people will stick around.

Certainly, some form of PvP can be a part of a sandbox game. Rules to minimize the asshat factor don’t remove that. They just allow for a much wider population. Which is why more and more games are trying different things, including costs to start up and/or fix your problems (or even just keep playing) when you do go off being an asshat. I don’t think any of the ideas are perfect, or even close yet, but… I think the days of EvE being alone in this are numbered, if the trend of working on systems to that end continues.

Finally, that last point, social interaction is a big part of what makes EvE EvE. Sure, you get the big jerks at times, but I know a ton of people who play in smaller groups in relative safety. They have fun together, occasionally talking with other such groups, and it’s as much hanging out as anything. The game doesn’t constantly pull you to distraction fighting stuff, which is another big part of a full social sandbox.

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Rheem Octuris

“The point is, that even in the sandboxes of real life there are rules. If you act like a jerk, somebody is going to [elect you President.]”

Fixed.

styopa
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styopa

“The point is, that even in the sandboxes of real life there are rules. If you act like a jerk, somebody is going to cave your nose in or get somebody with more authority and power than you have”

To be clear, IRL is the ultimate sandbox.

What bothers me about EVE is that the people who love the gank and suicide attacks, etc all are ACTUALLY HIDING BEHIND THE MECHANICAL HARD WALL of the game. Far from being the rough-riding cowboys of the frontier, they’re just…well, bullies.

Let’s explore, for a moment what would ACTUALLY happen in say, an IRL analogue of the EVE world.
You have the ability to never, ever die from having your ship killed.
So some guy jumps someone else minding their own business, kills his ship and pods him.
Now in EVE, until that victim spends X number of YEARS building skills (there’s no way to accelerate that unless you’re a credit-card warrior) they will simply never ever be able to strike back. Besides, the perpetrator is infinitely safe as are their goods in the ‘perfect storage’ of the system.
In a truly boundary-less world, there are multiple avenues of actual revenge, from lawsuits to criminal filings and legal pursuit to old fashioned vigilantism (say, cutting off someone’s hands, as an example). Which of these are pursued depends on the craziness level of the victim, which the perp IRL can never truly know.

Aelzen
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Aelzen

Now in EVE, until that victim spends X number of YEARS building skills (there’s no way to accelerate that unless you’re a credit-card warrior) they will simply never ever be able to strike back.

Not true. I know a couple players who came on board with the initial Alpha Clone launch that have injected their way into a lot of shiny new ships with isk they’ve earned from ratting and market play. No credit card required.
Are they the majority? Hell no, but it goes to show that if you put in some effort, it doesn’t matter how long a person has been skilling up.

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kgptzac

I think I’ve just read a description of a flame bait thread in the article… nothing worth to discuss on that tbh.

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John Mclain

Sounds fair to me, I rarely if ever left highsec for the few first years in Eve, only sheer boredom and enough isk and assets to where I no longer gave a crap if I lost a dozen expensive ships or so in a day made me finally venture out into lowsec, nullsec and eventually wormhole space when CCP added that. (Though I’m still not a fan of wormholes being insane risk with fairly pathetic rewards compared to low risk and massive rewards in nullsec.)

But yeah, most players are “carebears” in highsec, and thats perfectly fine, in fact they need to be catered to more. (Which CCP seems to be finally improving some this expansion.)