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.
For a few days each year, hundreds of EVE Online
players from across the world flock to a frozen volcanic rock at the top of the world for the annual EVE Fanfest. I was on the ground at EVE Fanfest 2017
last week in
Reykjavik to get the latest on what’s ahead for EVE
and CCP’s other titles, and it was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We learned all about CCP’s amazing plans
to roll out adaptive AI-driven PvE across the game world, talked to players and developers, and heard about the next stage of Project Discovery
that will let players search for real exoplanets in space.
We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.
At the end of February, CCP Games announced a new game that has nothing to do with EVE Online or even the EVE IP. Named Sparc, the new VR game is being pitched as a virtual sport environment with competitive online gameplay and an online social space. It has the aesthetic of the Tron-style cyberspace world that movies promised us throughout the 80s, and uses motion controls to deliver full-body VR gameplay. Even the social space will have a bit of an 80s arcade vibe, with players able to gather around and watch others compete and challenge the reigning champion to a match.
Anyone who’s been to EVE Fanfest in recent years will recognise Sparc immediately. The game made its public debut as Disc Arena in Fanfest 2015’s VR Labs demo section alongside three other VR experiments, and made a re-appearance the following year with motion controls as Project Arena. Just as Project Nemesis became the release title Gunjack, this game has now graduated into a full production title with its own development team and budget. Sparc is due for release at some point in 2017 on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, and we managed to get some hands-on time with an early version at this year’s Fanfest.
The scientific community has been buzzing lately with the incredible news that a star system less than 40 lightyears away named TRAPPIST-1
was found to contain seven rocky planets of similar size to Earth. Three of the planets are in the star’s habitable zone, the narrow orbital band in which water should be found in a liquid state and so life may be possible. TRAPPIST-1 has fired the imaginations of the general public, who have been getting involved directly in the search for new exoplanets via crowdsourcing initiatives such as the Exoplanet Explorers project on Zooniverse
At EVE Fanfest 2017, it was announced that that players of MMO EVE Online will soon be joining the great exoplanet hunt too through an interesting new mini-game that challenges players to find elusive planetary transits in data from telescopes around the world. Developed in collaboration with citizen science company MMOS, the University of Reykjavik, and the University of Geneva, the task will come to EVE as a Project Discovery mini-game with a variety of in-game rewards. It’s pretty exciting to think that players waging war over planets around other stars in a virtual universe will soon be finding them in the real world.
Read on to find out how exactly we find planets around other stars, and how this is going to be integrated with EVE Online.
Virtual reality dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie has taken centre stage in the emerging VR landscape, growing from a tech demo developed by some devs at CCP Games in their spare time to become a bundled launch title on the Oculus Rift and launch on several other VR platforms. The game has received several major updates since its launch just over a year ago, adding a new Carrier Assault game mode, weekend Wormhole events, a competitive league system, and more.
Today at EVE Fanfest 2017 and as just announced by the official PlayStation blog, CCP Games revealed the next step for Valkyrie — and it’s a pretty big one! The Groundrush update will add a radically different way of playing the game with the first ever ground-based map, “Solitude,” which will see you dogfighting within the atmosphere of a planet and dodging through pirate structures. The update also expands co-op play to the Control and Carrier Assault game modes, adds some new Wormhole events, and adds official support for the Steam Controller. The Groundrush update officially launches on April 11th, and you can check out the trailer below.
I sure hope you’re not tired of CCP Games talking about VR because CCP can’t stop won’t stop.
The video game studio known best for EVE Online has been laser-focused on the VR space for the last few years now, launching Gunjack, Gunjack 2, and EVE Valkyrie for VR and just last month announcing VR sports sim Sparc.
Today, CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson features in a new interview on GamesIndustry.biz, where he basically talks up how well VR is doing. When interviewer James Brightman suggests that only about two million high-end VR devices have sold — numbers that the analysts at SuperData said made VR the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales season — Pétursson argues that two million is actually a much bigger deal that it seems to be by putting the number into national perspective.
Gunjack moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ah, there it goes. You missed it. Gunjack 2: End of Shift already launched in December. Missed that too? Have a free update! Now you’re caught up!
Yes, CCP’s EVE Online-flavored VR-based Daydream-only mobile shooter (this needs a snarky acronym!) launched a freebie patch this week for game owners; it introduces new challenges matches, a new progression system, a new loadout system, and weeklies.
“The Daily Shift has now become the Weekly Shift, in which seven procedurally generated new missions will be made available each week for players to dive into at their leisure. High scores for each mission will be displayed on a leaderboard, rewarding those players best able to destroy waves of attackers and defend the Kubera.”
EVE Online has practically dominated the sci-fi sandbox MMO niche for nearly 14 years, with its harsh PvP-oriented gameplay and massive single-server universe combining to provide something that’s remained compelling in an ever-changing industry. From its humble foundation as a mostly empty sandbox with a smattering of people and limited resources has sprung political intrigue, war, espionage, charity, theft, and economics that often mirrors the real world in startling detail. In over a decade of virtual history, we’ve seen the rise and fall of massive empires, the birth and collapse of industries, the emergence of heroes and villains, and the forging of thousands of real life friendships.
While EVE‘s long-term success can be attributed partly to the absolute persistence of a single-shard universe, I often wonder what would happen if a fresh server opened today. What could players achieve with a level playing field and blank slate for all, and what would the EVE universe even look like without 14 years of accumulated wealth and skillpoints behind it? A tantalising hint of what that gold rush might look like comes from survival sandbox games such as RUST and DayZ, which have hundreds of small servers and very little focus on persistence. It’s got me thinking about what a shorter-term survival sandbox game with EVE‘s core gameplay would be like, and I honestly think it could be amazing.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I make the argument for an EVE Online survival sandbox game and the massive gameplay opportunities that periodic server wipes can present.
Announced just two months ago, CCP Games’ Gunjack 2: End of Shift has officially launched today for the Google Daydream, on which platform it is an exclusive. The sequel to last year’s standalone title EVE Gunjack is set in the EVE Online universe but is a VR-based shooter built by CCP’s Shanghai studio.
“Everyone fights in New Eden. Some fight for power. Others for money. But out on the fringes of known space, most fight simply to see another day. Far from the comforts of civilization, the vast mining rig, Kubera, is home. As a turret operator charged with defense of the rig and a formidable arsenal at their disposal, players must protect the Kubera and its precious cargo from bandits trying to blow the rig apart.
“Gunjack 2: End of Shift seamlessly integrates intuitive motion controls with intense, full-immersion action to become the ultimate mobile virtual reality experience. Players use the Daydream controller to aim and shoot down swarms of enemies, strategically deploy special weapons, and activate an energy shield to survive the most dangerous situations. The game will also feature procedural daily missions, ensuring endless replayability. Cinematic storytelling is also central to Gunjack 2, cut-scenes featuring the mining rig’s crew immerse the player in the life of danger for those in the Outer Ring of New Eden.”
The game’s a mere $12.99, though of course you’re gonna need a Daydream to make it go.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This past week, CCP announced a launch date for Gunjack 2: End of Shift. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Aion, Final Fantasy XI, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
With EVE Vegas
barely over, CCP Games
has already announced that it’s opened ticket sales for EVE Fanfest 2017
in Reykjavik, which is set for April 6th through 8th.
“During the massive, annual gathering of its players in Reykjavik, Iceland, home of the EVE Online development team, fans celebrate the virtual worlds of the EVE universe in a grand style. This year CCP is promising an extra-impressive EVE Fanfest for EVE Online capsuleers, EVE: Valkyrie pilots, Gunjack turret operators and their friends and family at the stunning Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center.”
For a video look at what to expect from the next Fanfest, check out this past year’s keynote and the 2015 recap video below. We’ve also rounded up our coverage of last weekend’s EVE Vegas for those living in the EVE Ascension moment!
In conjunction with the PlayStation VR launch today, CCP is touting the availability of EVE Valkyrie and EVE Gunjack as launch titles for the platform, two of the 50 games expected to be available for the system before the end of the year.
Valkyrie launched for the Oculus Rift back in March, while Gunjack already runs on just about every VR-capable toy out there. In fact, earlier this month, the company announced that Gunjack’s sequel — Gunjack 2: End of Shift — will be an exclusive Google Daydream title coming in November.
CCP has invested heavily into virtual reality with its stable of games, telling convention-goers last month that it’ll have sunk $30 million into VR games by the end of 2016, that it’s hoping to break even in a few months, and that it believes VR will pick up in 2018 and 2019. Other industry vets, like John Carmack, have argued the VR software industry is “coasting on novelty.”
The PSVR retails for $399 US. Anyone rushing out to pick one up?