eve evolved

EVE Evolved is an EVE Online column by Brendan Drain. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

EVE Evolved: How many subscriptions does EVE have?

Two weeks ago, a mathemagician over at The Nosy Gamer published some interesting calculations showing that EVE Online‘s subscriptions may have dropped by around 18% in the past two years. CCP has always prided itself on the fact that EVE has grown year-on-year since release, but the last official number we heard was when it reached 500,000 subscriptions back in February 2013. Players have taken the company’s silence since then on the matter of subscriptions as an admission that subs have been falling or at least not growing for the past two years.

So where did this 18% figure come from? It was extrapolated from estimates of player participation in the last two CSM elections, and the reasoning behind the number seems pretty good in the absence of any official announcement. It will probably not come as a shock to anyone if this calculation turns out to be accurate, as EVE‘s concurrent player numbers have also seen a roughly 20% drop since 2013. As development on EVE has been very well-received over the past two years, I’m inclined to believe that the drop in activity has more to do with trends in today’s gaming habits and purchasing choices. Online gaming seems to be going through an evolution, and the mandatory subscription model may be becoming obsolete.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I run through a set of calculations to work out how many subscribers EVE really has, determine where the reported 18% drop is coming from, and ask whether this is a trend CCP can fight.

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EVE Evolved: Four lessons sandbox MMOs can learn from EVE

The past few years have seen a resurgence of support for sandbox MMOs, both of the trying-to-be-minecraft creative kind and the hardcore nuke-it-from orbit PvP variety. We’ve partly got games like DayZ to thank for the latter, and with recently released survival MMO H1Z1 netting over a million sales while still in Early Access, that’s a trend that is sure to continue. Fantasy PvP sandbox Crowfall also raked in nearly two million dollars in crowdfunding thanks in part to its plans for destructible campaign worlds with varying loot rules. With so much financial support, we’re undoubtedly in for a flood of new sandbox MMOs clamoring for a slice of the PvP pie.

EVE Online has a special pride of place in this particular subgenre, with over a decade of successful operation as one of the most hardcore PvP MMOs out there. EVE hit on some important principles that many other PvP-based MMOs have missed, such as its adherence to a risk-vs.-reward policy and the way items and ships are disposable. On the other hand, EVE‘s reputation for harsh death penalties and unforgiving free-for-all PvP rules have hindered efforts to make the game more accessible to new players. There are both positive and negative lessons to be learned from EVE‘s long history in the MMO space, and all other PvP sandboxes should learn from them.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what makes EVE fundamentally tick as a PvP-based sandbox and four big lessons other MMOs can learn from it.

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EVE Evolved: CCP’s Andie Nordgren on new structures and sovereignty

I’ve been pretty critical of EVE Online‘s upcoming sovereignty and nullsec revamp, calling the constellation-wide battle fake and its use of reinforcement timers unnecessary. While I still believe that a multiple capture point mechanic without reinforcement timers would be the ideal system, being at EVE Fanfest 2015 this week has definitely given me cause for optimism. After spending the past few days sitting in on roundtable feedback gathering sessions and absorbing the enormity of CCP’s new plans for deployable structures, I can sort of see what the future looks like for nullsec, and it’s pretty awesome.

EVE is hurtling head-first into a future in which everyone from individuals and small corporations to the biggest megacoalitions can vie for control of a little corner of the galaxy. Territorial alliances will eventually be able to design everything about their star systems, building sprawling industrial hubs, employing NPC security and agents, and creating a space that reflects the alliance’s personality and style. Star systems that are heavily built up with infrastructure will become juicy targets for roaming fleets, and systems that aren’t actively used and defended should be more difficult to hold on to.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the plans for new structures in EVE and talk to Executive Producer Andie Nordgren on her grand future vision for nullsec.

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EVE Evolved: Sovereignty 2.0 Needs Some Work

When CCP Games announced last year that a complete nullsec revamp was coming to EVE Online, the playerbase breathed a collective sigh of relief powerful enough to create its own tropical weather system. There’s no question that nullsec and territorial warfare in EVE are broken beyond belief, and players have been campaigning for a complete revamp for years. It’s been over five years since the Dominion expansion tried and failed to revamp nullsec for the better, and most of the changes since then have been small iterations and quality of life fixes. The situation came to a head late last year when players and CCP acknowedged that nullsec had become stagnant and something really had to be done.

The first phase of the revamp came last October, when developers made changes to jump drives and jump portals to stop people from deploying fleets across huge distances within minutes. This week CCP announced phase two of the ambitious plan: a complete overhaul of the sovereignty gameplay designed to allow smaller alliances to capture and hold space, among other goals. It’s the change I’m sure a lot of corps in EVE have been waiting for to finally try their hands at claiming their own little corner of New Eden, but discussion on sovereignty is far from over. Developers have reached out for feedback on the proposal ahead of this month’s fanfest, and the forum thread has reached nearly 200 pages.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at EVE‘s upcoming sovereignty revamp and explain why I think the system needs a few design changes to work.

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EVE Evolved: Exploring EVE’s ‘new opportunities’

This week saw the first concrete reveal of EVE Online‘s potentially revolutionary new Opportunities system, which promises to replace the current tutorial with a more sandbox-oriented alternative. Rather than leading players by the hand through a series of steps, the new system will give players looser goals to complete and let them explore the game at their own pace. It doesn’t sound like a huge change, but the opportunities system will completely change the way new players interact with the game. If it works as intended, this feature has the potential to solve EVE‘s notorious learning curve problem once and for all.

At the same time, I find myself excited for new opportunities outside the game as Massively relaunches as an independent site. Just a few weeks after we were informed that Massively was being shut down and we were all being let go, everyone on the team has pulled together and volunteered his or her time for free to create Massively Overpowered. It’s really good to be back, and I hope I can continue delivering your regular dose of EVE Online for years to come! Ultimately, though, the long-term viability of this column and all the other coverage at MassivelyOP depends on the success of our Kickstarter campaign and future funding through Patreon and advertising.

In this first edition of the reborn EVE Evolved, I discuss EVE‘s upcoming Opportunities feature and the effect it might have on the new player experience.

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