Good news for anybody out there worried about the future of EVE Valkyrie: CCP’s Newcastle studio, the one that runs Valkyrie, has been acquired by UK-based Sumo Digital, which isn’t exactly known for VR. According to GIbiz, 34 CCP devs will make the jump to the new group. Sumo Digital has been collaborating with CCP already on Project Nova, the FPS following in DUST 514’s footsteps.
You’ll recall that at the tail end of October 2017, the EVE Online developer announced that it was pulling out of the virtual reality market, with intent to close down or sell off some of its properties while pulling Sparc in-house. Though Valkyrie received an update in the interim, its longer-term future had appeared uncertain until Sumo Digital announced the buyout.
We’ve reached the end of another year, and it’s certainly been a busy one for EVE Online
. This year saw heavy gameplay iteration, with improvements to everything from the UI to ship balance, and the Lifeblood expansion’s total moon mining overhaul
. PvE-focused players got a new AI-driven Resource Wars
activity in high-security space, and an experimental user interface named The Agency has helped tie seasonal in-game events together. New refinery structures caused a bit of a land grab on moons and gave alliances more to fight over, and CCP Games
lifted some of the free to play alpha clone restrictions
to help bring in new players.
It’s the players that make EVE Online special, of course, and this year had no shortage of crazy political shenanigans. We followed The Imperium’s war for revenge in the north of EVE that eventually fizzled out, watched as The Judge betrayed his alliance and stole the largest sum of ISK in the game’s history, and sat aghast as the leader of that alliance was banned for threatening to cut off the thief’s hands in real life. CCP Games itself hasn’t exactly made it through the year unscathed, with the company unexpectedly pulling out of the VR market and laying off around 100 staff worldwide.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look back at the past year of EVE Online news and summarise the highlights.
Happy holidays, EVE: Valkyrie fans! Enjoy a shiny box of… wait, why are you hyperventilating? This isn’t a shutdown notice. (Which, you know, was a logical thing to expect based on recent events. You might have good reason to be jumpy.) Stop. Take a deep breath. There’s an update. There is an actual patch. See, there’s even a video down below covering the features. The biggest addition is the new moon refinery map that’s letting you blow things up in the midst of a mining operation on a moon. Not Earth’s moon, just a moon.
Do you need to sit down for a little while? Here, we can cover this in text. Have some hot chocolate. The update also adds in a new spectator mode so you can watch other players shooting at stuff without being in the match. Yes, other players. You can even set up custom matches with those other players specifically, if you want. Are you doing better? Can you watch the video now? It’s just past the break.
Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
Let’s end the week talking about money. What could go wrong?
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.
Yesterday, MOP’s Brendan reported on the startling news that CCP Games, long known for its flagship MMORPG sandbox EVE Online and more recently known for its persistent probe into the virtual reality space, is closing down two of its studios, letting over 100 employees go, and essentially putting the kibosh on its plans in the VR market in the short term.
One of the substudios affected, the Newcastle studio now being sold off, was specifically focused on EVE Valkyrie, the VR dogfighter spun out of the EVE universe. But it doesn’t appear that game, which last month launched on Steam with apparently lukewarm reception from the PC crowd, is over. In fact, CCP is calling it “the beginning of a new chapter.”
“We can confidently confirm that EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone is not going away,” writes the company. “We love the game just as much as we love our players, so you can rest assured that we’ll continue to support the product into the future. The development team at the Newcastle studio will remain intact and complete work on the upcoming Winter Update for EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone. So don’t panic! You’ll still receive in-game support for custom matches, tournament tools and a spectator mode before the end of this year.”
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.
A gaming convention turned into the banal opening scene of a zombie outbreak movie this week as a number of players who attended EVE Vegas 2017
suddenly came down with the symptoms of a cold virus after the event. The airborne virus was brought to the event by an anonymous video game journalist — let’s call him Drendan Brain — and is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, where it’s been sweeping rapidly across the country this month.
We reached out to Drendan Brain for comment, but his phone always went to a busy tone and his emails keep getting returned to me. The cold may also have been brought to the event by 19 other attendees from the UK, the EVE: Valkyrie team from the UK, or literally anyone going through any airport, but that wouldn’t make a snazzy headline. However the outbreak started, hundreds of EVE Online players were potentially exposed and many are now crawling into bed with some chicken soup and a cup of hot lemon. Get well soon, space bros!
CCP Games’ annual EVE Vegas event kicks off in less than a week on October 6th, and once again MassivelyOP will be on the ground to get the latest on the future of EVE Online, EVE: Valkyrie, Sparc, and more. This year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest one yet, having sold out weeks in advance despite moving to a larger venue in The Linq Hotel and Casino. EVE Vegas is the largest community event for players in North America and serves almost as a mini-Fanfest for those who may not be able to make it to Iceland.
While the event is mostly a social gathering and an excuse to get drunk, it will also give CCP an opportunity to get critical feedback ahead of EVE Online‘s Lifeblood expansion on October 24th. We’ll hear more about the upcoming Resource Wars dynamic PvE gameplay, get an update on the development roadmap for EVE, and see a variety of player talks and presentations. We’ve also been told to expect some cool surprises this year, and we may get an opportunity to follow up on the recent record-breaking heist and betrayal that happened in-game.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what we can expect from next week’s EVE Vegas 2017. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask players or developers, post them in the comments!
EVE Valkyrie’s Warzone overhaul is live today for those with $29.99 rattling around in their space piggybanks, unless you already own the game, in which case the update is freeeeeee. The new headline feature is an Overwatch-esque CTF “Extraction” mode, plus two new maps, wormhole challenges, and the promised lootboxes.
“EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone includes all the content and improvements released for EVE: Valkyrie since launch while dramatically enhancing the experience for new and current players alike. It introduces a next-generation fleet of iconic ships – including the new Covert class ship, ‘Shadow’ – each one with their own distinctive role to play in battle. With new weapons – including powerful Ultra abilities – and a fully redesigned progression system for each ship, players will have more control over how they evolve their arsenal to suit their playstyle.”
CCP believes Valkyrie is the “first fully cross-platform, cross-reality videogame for VR, PC, and PlayStation 4.” VR access, by the way, is no longer a necessity for the game as of today; in fact, VR and non-VR plebes will be pew-pewing each other in perfect harmony.
There’s really no two ways about this particular tidbit of news. CCP is adding loot boxes to EVE Valkyrie, according to a recent interview. The boxes are expected to drop about every two battles on average, with each box containing random items including cosmetic items and experience boosters. If all of that sounds like exactly what you would expect from the statement “CCP is adding loot boxes EVE Valkyrie,” well, you’ve done this dance a few times.
There’s no word at this point about said boxes being added to a microtransaction store, but all things considered you can probably mark it as highly likely at the very least. You can also get at least one box for completing the in-game tutorial, so that’s added motivation to learn how to fly your craft. Those of you who went into a spontaneous rage-seizure upon seeing the term “loot boxes,” of course, can jump straight to the comments.
Gosh, you don’t think this might be tied to making the game no longer require a VR headset, could it?
This is just your weekly reminder from CCP that EVE: Valkyrie wasn’t a figment of your imagination, it still exists, and please for the love of all that is holy, buy it already. Please.
Oh, and it’s also a major announcement that Valkyrie — a multiplayer sci-fi fighter spin-off of EVE Online — is preparing to ditch the expensive requirement of a virtual reality headset. That’s right: Come September 26th, you won’t need a VR headset to play this VR game.
This is thanks to a new version of the game called EVE: Valkyrie — Warzone, which allows both VR and non-VR players to battle together on the same server. The Warzone update will also introduce a new generation of ships, add a mod-based progression system, include “ultra” abilities, trot out more maps, raise the rank cap to 60, toss in mouse-and-keyboard support, and more.