It’s safe to say that it’s been a rough year for CCP Games, with the company pulling out of VR game development and laying off around 100 staff worldwide. The entire EVE Online
community team was reported to have been slashed down to just two employees, and many of the studio’s most experienced PR staff were let go when the Atlanta office was shuttered. EVE
players (including me
) came down hard on CCP and on CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson in particular, and some inside the company were notably shaken.
EVE Online Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy was one of the few members of the community team left after the layoffs, suddenly finding himself organising the 15th anniversary Fanfest without a team. It’s now been almost five months since the layoffs, so I caught up with Paul at EVE Fanfest 2018 recently to find out how the company has coped with the loss of so many skilled community staff. He also clarified CCP’s role in tackling harassment outside the game client in the wake of a recent virtual scuffle on the Open Comms show, and gave a fascinating account of how Hilmar himself dealt with the recent layoffs and how he’s been getting more involved with EVE lately.
Read on for our massive in-depth interview with EVE‘s Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy.
Last week we broke the story that EVE Online
developer CCP Games is backing out of the virtual reality games market
, closing its Altanta office and selling its VR-focused Newcastle studio. The long-held Atlanta office was acquired in the merger with White Wolf in 2006 and has been hit with several rounds of layoffs over the years, with a major hit in 2011
after the Monoclegate disaster and another 2014 when the World of Darkness MMO was cancelled
. The Newcastle studio was the development house responsible for CCP’s VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie
, and both Valkyrie
and CCP’s new VR game Sparc
will now be maintained by the London office.
Around 100 staff were laid off in the restructuring, roughly 30 of whom worked in CCP’s headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland. Though we were informed at the time that these changes would not impact the development of EVE Online, it since became apparent that more than a few non-development staff were cut. In addition to the EVE PR staff and others that were stationed in Atlanta, all but two members of the EVE community team in Reykjavik have also been let go. There are reports that several GMs and the localisation manager for EVE have departed too, and the mood on twitter from staff in Reykjavik recently is best described as sombre and a little shaken.
In this extra edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into CCP Games’s history of taking risks with staff’s jobs, look at some of those affected by the layoffs, and ask whether there is more fallout to come.
Icelandic business website mbl.is has just reported that EVE Online developer CCP Games is planning to close two of its offices and cease all VR game development. The move affects over 100 staff worldwide, with the Atlanta office in the United States being closed and the Newcastle studio being sold off. The Newcastle office was the development house responsible for the VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie, which released as a bundled launch title for the Oculus Rift and has since been released on PlayStation VR and as a non-VR PC title.
The move will see CCP pull out of the VR market for the time being, focusing instead on PC and mobile development. The studio secured a $30 million US investment specifically for VR games back in 2015, and CEO Hilmar Pétursson revealed back in March of this year that the company had only recently broken even on that investment. Despite having some success with Valkyrie, Gunjack, and its recently released VR sports title Sparc, CCP acknowledged the limited opportunities and growth it sees in VR as a platform over the next several years.
The EVE Online
community is aflame this week after alliance leader gigX was permanently banned
for making threats of real-life violence against another player following possibly the biggest betrayal in EVE history
. Some players don’t want to accept that gigX crossed a serious line and deserves his ban, and others have been asking why The Mittani’s similar actions in 2012 resulted in only a temporary ban. CCP’s official stance
is that its policies have become stricter since 2012, but it’s still not entirely clear exactly where the line is drawn.
Another side to the debate is that the internet itself has evolved over EVE‘s 14-year lifespan, and a lot of toxic behaviour that was accepted or commonly overlooked on the early internet is now considered totally unacceptable. Many of us have grown from a bunch of anonymous actors playing roles in fantasy game worlds to real people sharing our lives and an online hobby with each other, and antisocial behaviour is an issue that all online games now need to take seriously. The lawless wild west of EVE‘s early years is gone, and I don’t think it’s ever coming back.
So what’s the deal? Does EVE Online tolerate less toxic behaviour today, has the internet started to outgrow its lawless roots, and what does it mean for the future of sandboxes?
If you’ve been on literally any social network recently, you’ve probably come across image manipulation app FaceApp. The app takes in any photo of a face and uses a neural-networking approach to automatically re-imagine the face as a different age or gender or adds a photo-realistic smile to an otherwise sullen expression. It wasn’t long before some EVE Online players discovered that the app works just as well on EVE avatars as real life photos.
Signal Cartel member @dorian_reu on twitter has been slapping smiles on loads of EVE players this week, and the results have been brilliant. Happy EVE avatars have been popping up all over EVE Twitter profiles, some of them pretty amazing transformations and others just down-right hilarious. Below are some of the highlights:
It’s been another busy year for sci-fi MMO EVE Online, and an absolute roller coaster ride for both players and developer CCP Games. On the development side, we’ve had two major expansions with Citadel and Ascension and a significant business model change with the introduction of a free-to-play account option. Fan events EVE Fanfest 2016 and EVE Vegas 2016 brought us some fantastic insights into the future development, including a peek at some amazing work on future PvE gameplay and an all-new EVE FPS codenamed Project Nova.
Proving once again that the players in EVE are the most engaging content, this year brought us the political twists and turns of the now-infamous World War Bee, which became the largest PvP war ever to happen in an online game. We also delved into some absolutely crazy sandbox stories, including one player using $28,000 worth of skill injectors to create a max skill character as a publicity stunt, and the controversial banning of the gambling kingpins behind World War Bee.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look back over all the biggest EVE stories of the year, from the political shenanigans of World War Bee to the surprise free-to-play option and how expansions have changed the face of the game this year.
Over its almost 13 years of operation, sci-ci MMO EVE Online has gained a largely undeserved reputation for antisocial behaviour. EVE is built on the fundamental principle that players can do whatever they like within the bounds of the game world, which naturally allows more antisocial behaviour to surface but also leads to the creation of incredibly close-knit communities. When the cost of betraying someone’s trust in-game can be the fate of an empire, that trust is much harder earned and a lot more meaningful than in a typical MMO. EVE‘s gameplay makes co-operation with others almost a mandatory requirement to succeed in many areas of the game, and the bonds forged in common struggle are enduring.
At no time are we reminded more of this than during the annual EVE Online Fanfest, when thousands of players from around the world gather on a frozen rock in the arctic circle to meet in real life the players they rely on each day in-game. It’s here we see most clearly that the rare but terrible low points in EVE‘s community history when players have stepped over the line into real life harassment are counter-balanced by hundreds of thousands of friendly and decent pilots. Many welcome new players with open arms and the patience of saints, and some make their marks in the real world through incredible schemes like the PLEX for GOOD donation drives for natural disaster relief, the Broadcast for Reps suicide prevention initiative, and the Care 4 Kids campaign.
I sat down during EVE Fanfest 2016 for a brief chat with EVE universe community manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy to talk about organising Fanfest, managing the EVE community, and how CCP responds to online harassment both inside and outside EVE.
EVElopedia is soon to be no more. CCP Falcon told players yesterday that CCP has decided to shut down the EVE Online resource; it’ll go offline on February 29th. Says the studio,
“With the introduction of the new Help Center and the ever developing Flight Academy project from our Customer Support Team, as well as the amazing (and far more up to date) player run wikis out there such as the EVE University Wiki and the Brave Newbies wiki, plus the availability of more up to date static data from the EVE Universe via CREST, we feel that the EVElopedia’s life cycle has run its course, and it is now time to move on from hosting it.”
CCP has told players that they can download the entire archive, which should alleviate concerns that some material will be lost. Fiction and backstory information will eventually be relocated.
Massively OP’s Brendan Drain recommends the EVE University wiki in the alternative.
EVE Online’s Operation Frostline patch yesterday brought to light an intriguing change: a new name for the game’s ship browser, the Interbus Ship Identification System, otherwise known as… ISIS.
But the change wasn’t made for the reason you might assume. CCP_Falcon has told players that CCP didn’t swap names on account of politics.
“[T]he renaming has nothing to do with ‘ISIS’ being a name used by any real life terrorist group,” he told Reddit. “I questioned Development about this when I saw the proposed name change internally, because if that was the reason then I was set to oppose it. The reasoning for the change is the fact that the name is too obscure for new players, and might confuse them. Will pass the feedback from this thread on to the team working on it :).”