Saturday, July 11, 2015

Awox Nerf Fails to Boost EVE Numbers

The verdict is in.

For the past few years, CCP has struggled to reverse--or even slow down--the decline in EVE players. Lacking the will or resources to add new content to an aging game, CCP relied primarily on implementing nerfs to highsec aggression. Instead of patches with new features (or much-needed fixes to old features), we got a safer highsec. Carebears rejoiced, predicting a flood of theme parkers from gentler, friendlier games.

Unfortunately, they didn't show up. Subscribers continued to fall. No matter how far CCP went to make highsec safer, it was never enough. Even the carebears who already populated highsec failed to appreciate the nerfs to aggression for very long, since they always managed to find a way to get themselves killed.

Then, during the latter half of 2014, the Great Idea came into being. At last, someone came up with a way to reverse the decay. New player retention was going to be supercharged. Subscription numbers would skyrocket. CCP would find itself drowning in piles of money. EVE was saved!

The Great Idea was the removal of awoxing. Once intra-corp friendly fire was made illegal, highsec corporations would no longer fear being invaded by awoxers. Rather than being suspicious of newbies, corps would throw open their doors and welcome them in. A torrent of new players would leave NPC corps and fill the ranks of player corporations. They would build ties to the community, get a more interactive experience, and they would (gasp!) give CCP money instead of letting their trial accounts expire. Finally, a way to retain new players.

The general EVE population marveled at the genius of it all. The enthusiasm was infectious. Nor was it limited to the carebears and their traditional apologists. Indeed, one of the CSM members who supported the idea most strongly was Sion Kumitomo, a GoonSwarm candidate. Even The Mittani himself, sponsor of the Gallente Ice Interdiction, Hulkageddon Infinity, and Burn Jita, was among the very first to advocate the Great Idea.

CCP, of course, found it irresistible. Not only was the awox removal guaranteed to boost revenues, not only was it the solution to all their financial worries--it was also a no-effort solution. Making friendly fire illegal was what DJ FunkyBacon refers to as "Delete Key Game Development": No need to spend huge amounts of time and resources developing something new; simply get rid of something old.

The CSM, reflecting the attitude of the players who elected them, solidly supported CCP and its plan to give life to the Great Idea. Only the grouchy, grumpy ol' FunkyBacon had the rudeness to stand in the way of their enthusiasm. He forced them to at least recognize the need for an on/off switch for friendly fire. Ugh. Now CCP had to spend a miniscule amount of time and effort to code in a toggle switch. But no matter. In a few months, it would be ready.

Then, of course, there was the fanatic leader of the New Order, James 315. With characteristic unreasonableness, he criticized the Great Idea instead of embracing it. Annoyingly, he didn't think the removal of awoxing would improve player retention or boost EVE subscriptions. He even explained exactly why it wouldn't work. What a jerk!

On February 17, 2015, the Tiamat expansion went live. The Great Idea took effect immediately. It was as if each cell in the decaying body of EVE Online was baptized in a fountain of youth. The game was restored, filled with new vigor. The NPC corps no longer imprisoned the new players. They were free! Highsec player corps swelled with new blood, new life. Retention rates and subscription numbers and revenues burst through the old ceilings. CCP headquarters flowed with champagne. There was dancing in the streets of Reykjavík. There was...


...Or not.

For reasons unrelated to this subject, none other than Ripard Teg recently compiled statistics on the EVE population. The number of logged-in players was used in this chart because CCP no longer publicly discloses detailed stats on EVE subscription numbers. I simply added the Tiamat release indicator to Ripard's chart.

EVE's population has declined over time for a host of different reasons: The age of the game, the lack of new features, the tightening of restrictions on bots and multiboxers, fatigue from broken sovereignty mechanics, etc. The removal of awoxing did not reverse the trend, stop the trend, or even slow it down. Nearly five months later, we can say that it had, in fact, no effect whatsoever.

It's no particular mystery why the awox nerf didn't boost the number of new players being recruited into player corps, or improve player retention, or increase the EVE population. As I wrote several months ago, recruitment policies toward new players never had anything to do with intra-corp friendly fire. Highsec corps either (A) let in anyone and everyone, (B) restrict newbies due to elitism, skillpoint requirements, etc., or (C) restrict newbies due to spying/infiltration concerns. The awox nerf had no impact on any of these considerations. It merely removed a style of gameplay from the very small number of EVE players who performed highsec awoxes.

As a side note, as I wrote previously, the removal of legal friendly fire did nothing to encourage recruitment of new players to the lowsec/nullsec/wormhole corps that provide real content to players. As for highsec, if people avoid joining large player corps, it's so that they can evade wardecs, not awoxers.

As an additional side note, it's worth considering the situations in which EVE's numbers do improve (temporarily). Most recently, this would include the publicity about the battle of B-R (a big nullsec fleet battle) and the "This is EVE" trailer (which almost exclusively highlighted nullsec fleet battles). New players join EVE, and then they quit within a month. Critics say CCP has sold these players a bill of goods that they couldn't deliver. Of course. That's because CCP does essentially nothing to get new players into nullsec so they can experience said nullsec fleet battles. They focus on making highsec comfortable and highsec corps open, assuming that highsec mining is some kind of gateway drug to nullsec PvP. It isn't. Highsec PvE corps don't grow up and move to nullsec. They stay in highsec. Their players stay in highsec, too, unless they quit or someone destroys the corp with a wardec--after which the newly liberated players might try something different.

CCP will shortly release "FozzieSov", the long-awaited overhaul of nullsec sovereignty mechanics. Most observers believe this will generate new interest in nullsec in the short-term while pilots "play with the new toy". Then players will either find they enjoy the new system or they'll all get bored with it.

Regardless of whether FozzieSov succeeds or flops, CCP should have designed changes to the sov system years ago. They've known for years that it was broken. Why did they wait until now? Because they had no sense of urgency. They were convinced that they could improve the game and boost revenues by making highsec safer, and by deleting features like awoxing.

That would have been so easy, if only it had worked.

44 comments:

  1. Then, of course, there was the fanatic leader of the New Order, James 315. With characteristic unreasonableness, he criticized the Great Idea instead of embracing it. Annoyingly, he didn't think the removal of awoxing would improve player retention or boost EVE subscriptions. He even explained exactly why it wouldn't work. What a jerk!

    This paragraph speaks volumes about code and james in general.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is ignorance of the kind exhibited in your comment, anon 7:20, which so characterises the carebear population of Highsec, and is surley one of the principal reasons for its failure to thrive.

      See the following link for further help.

      https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=tongue%20in%20cheek

      Delete
    2. I do love me some anonymous poster tears

      Delete
  2. Funkybacon got my CSM vote. The guy knows what's good for Eve. He's more interested in improving the game than politics, gaining favor from CCP, or building his own legacy. I'll vote for the dude as long as he's running for Internet Spaceship Politician.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just try and execute an awox on me... i'll run from it faster then I dodge wardecs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Getting real tired of your fake shit Veers

      Delete
    2. Fake Veers for CSM!

      Delete
  4. If only CCP had the steadfast determination to add new features, change/remove old broken ones, etc... as they do attending player gatherings all over the world and slinging booze down with players. Which is important, the community interaction thing, don't get me wrong. But c'mon CCP.

    Nice article. Spot on

    ReplyDelete
  5. You can change the name to The New Altair Code of Conduct. A lot of carebear freighters go through there on a daily basis or mine in that area and its surrounding constellation.

    http://roguey.co.uk/elite-dangerous/universe/altair/

    ReplyDelete
  6. What this game really needs is a safer High Security Space.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow. I was not aware that player numbers had decreased that much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eve is dead

      Delete
    2. Its on a steady decline. With its age its only a matter of time till ccp shuts the doors and everyone in code cries because they dont have a game anymore.
      Rest assured, code will cry, and their tears will be glorious.

      Delete
    3. When this piece of shit game finally dies, I'll unfurl my XXL Mission Accomplished banner and have a beer.

      Hell, I think I'll do that anyways.

      Delete
    4. It is better that EvE dies than it be a theme park. This New Order agent will not cry if EvE dies. It is better to put your dog down than to allow it to decline to pi**ing and shi**ing all over itself.

      Delete
    5. It is better to put your dog down than to allow it to decline to pi**ing and shi**ing all over itself.

      But....is that just what code already does?

      Delete
    6. You nailed it Revis; case closed.

      Delete
    7. the spite filled game that is eve online will not be missed at all in fact they should just do it today.

      Delete
    8. Lols at the carebears, EvE will not die as long as you buy plex to fund pointless hisec carebear crap, and CODE is destroying the that so you buy more. :)

      Delete
  8. Looks like Anti-ganking is failing non-stop daily continuously XD

    ReplyDelete
  9. I don't want to undock because I just don't feel safe enough in Highsec.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don`t undock currently due to summer. :D

      Delete
    2. @ alana,
      What you said above is the same thing that ming says all the time.

      Delete
  10. The long experiment of "just one more nerf" to highsec PvP in order to boost retention is now a completely disproven failure. It's another prediction of EvE development failure that the Supreme Protector and the New Order correctly called long ago.

    CCP, it's time to reverse things and start making highsec more dangerous. Players who get killed in PvP subscribe longer. That's a proven fact.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well played, your Majesty.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gotta love those carebear tears. The truth hurts and carebears will cry. So much for the "men" now huh. I guess after all the whining and tantrums they were proven wrong again...but instead, as usual, they will blame someone else so they don't have to face their own failures. Oh lawdy...can't we all just get along? *sobs* kumbaya my lord.... hehehe

    Please...suck it up or shut it up. If you can't hack Eve...don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you...adios o/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now why is it that kaely always talks about mens balls, their butts, or uses terms like "suck it"?.....
      I do believe she is obsessed a bit about men.

      Delete
    2. Anonbear 3:24... Was... I don't even... Was that supposed to insult her in some way? To say that she likes men?

      Miner, please try to calm down before you comment. Would you like to buy a Mining Permit™?

      Delete
    3. Nitetime, go back to sleep...

      Delete
  13. Highsec isn't safe enough for me. I'd rather cling to the warm blossom of my captain' quarters. Too bad CCPlease didnt even manage to build a competent Walking-In-Stations system.

    CCPlease

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, so many in code crying about losing eve, and eve is not even gone yet.
    I can only imagine how much of a flood of tears there will be from the code bears when eve does finally die.
    "OMG ccp! why you do this to me? I no have game to play anymorez....wahhhh!"

    ReplyDelete
  15. the sooner the better i say and good riddance to you all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perfectly said Anon @ 3:42
      Good riddance to all of code when the game finally goes :)
      I only wonder how long this blog will go on, ill love to see the tears and rants on here from code bears.

      Delete
    2. Look! Another carebear who says "Minerbumping will fail in only a few weeks!"

      Another carebear who looks at the persistent, daily, posts of the Saviour, and thinks: "Hahaha he's almost out of steam!"

      And yet another carebear that the New Order is going to 0wn, horribly.

      I rub my hands together in anticipation of how wrong I'm going to tell it that it is.

      Delete
  16. Knock, knock...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Don't you hate pants?

    ReplyDelete
  18. You commenters highlight one of the fundamental differences between us agents and the carebears: If you don't like EVE, we wish you all the happiness in the world while playing one of the many other games that suit you, while you carebears, on the other hand, would delight in seeing the servers go dark on the one and only game that suits us.

    That is malicious, and not even in the same mufuckin' ballpark as blowing up someone's exhumer. It's, seriously, kind of fucked up. I mean, doesn't it occur to you that people work at CCP? That's someone's bread and butter...

    Oh, you hate CCP employees too, and wish real world unemployment and strife on them for enabling our wicked cyberbullying... I forgot...

    You must have been reaaaaally attached to that Mackinaw...


    -Galaxy Pig

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice tears there galaxy pig :)

      Delete
    2. Show me on the barge doll where the mean ol' ganker touched you bad enough to turn you into such a vindictive ass-hole.

      At least, at the end of the day, even if EVE dies, we can all agree that Anti-ganking had no affect on anything.


      -Oink

      Delete
  19. Meh. Seen this before. Reason numbers are down is that alot of EVE players are in the WoWarships Open Beta right now.

    Same thing happened back in 2008 when WoTanks started.

    Also, competition from Elite Dangerous. Which is a good thing.

    -------
    Mike Adoulin

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sounds to me like the problem is wardecs. This article mentions them multiple times. Without wardecs, there would be no barriers to large scale highsec corp recruitment.

    Also, nullsec battles are boring. That's the reality. They are great to read about and amazing to see the results of, but being in them is one of the most painful gaming moments you can experience. Watching the game take half an hour to notice you clicked a button then more than 10x the normal amount of time for that action to complete is enough to make you want to drop your sub on the spot.

    ReplyDelete

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