You know, people have been fretting about new players, newbies, and newbros for a long time. It's the EVE equivalent of the cry, "Won't somebody think of the children?" Generations have come and gone during the years EVE players spent worrying about newbies. The CSM was worrying about the fate of newbies back when today's grizzled vets were newbies themselves.
It's natural, then, that when stark, stark numbers about wardecs were shown to the CSM, everyone recoiled in terror--wardecs are making newbies quit the game! There were, however, brief moments in the discussion that spoiled the mood. From the minutes:
"CCP Lebowski brings up the data which shows that it's not actually a lot of brand new players that are being war decced, because they are not worth declaring war on most likely. Typically it's more established corporations that get hit once they are big enough to be a target. This does however still affect new players such as in Karmafleet, Brave Newbies and so on indirectly through which corporations are being decced. The CSM feels that looking at the corporations being decced is not the approach but rather we should focus on the the age and retention rates of the players who die due to war."Ah, that's the trouble with statistics. You need to look at the specifics. Speaking of which, let's take a closer look at what was revealed about CCP's (still classified) study:
"CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends."Anyone who has fired off a flurry of wardecs knows that most targets turtle up when war comes. Carebears prefer not to engage in combat with other players--unless they somehow manage to get an overwhelming advantage. Of course, they condemn habitual PvP'ers for doing the same thing; in those situations, shooting a spaceship constitutes griefing, bullying, harassment--or even torture, if TeamSpeak is involved. Since carebears are bad at PvP, they typically avoid it whenever possible. During a wardec, that might mean staying docked up or logged out. Hence the drop in corp members' activity.
That doesn't necessarily mean the players themselves go entirely inactive, though. Players use all sorts of wardec evasion tactics, such as dropping corp or (in the case of small corporations), dissolving the corp. CCP Larrikin says their study looked at the activity of members of wardecced corporations. Did the characters' activity continue to get tracked if the character left the corp? The minutes don't say, but the easiest way to conduct the study--and the most narratively convenient--would be to measure the activity of whoever was in the corp during the observed period. If so, the results would be supremely misleading: When a wardecced corp died and its members scattered to the winds, the study would show zero activity, implying that all of the members of the wardecced corp quit the game, even if they all continued to be active in other corps or NPC corps.
Even supposing a more thorough method of player-tracking was used, there are other problems with measuring the effects of wardecs this way. It's more the exception than the rule for every character a player controls to be in the same corp or alliance. When a carebear's corp is wardecced, he'll typically play a different character. He may also play characters on a different account, or an alpha account. It's easy to measure the activity of a corp. It's much more challenging to track the activity of players who freely switch to different corps, characters, and accounts. But when judging the things that CCP cares about, like player retention, subscription numbers, and revenue, it's the players, not the corps, that matter.
Speaking of which, here's another revealing tidbit from the minutes:
"Sort Dragon wants to take a step back and not worry as much about the mechanic specifics but rather what the next steps involved in this change. CCP Fozzie says that at this point they are waiting for a more detailed request from the senior management to see what the business goal is in this case, but are still investigating the potential mechanic changes."This is an amusing admission to be included in a public document. Rather than concerning themselves with designing mechanics to make the best possible game, the sole focus is altering the wardec system to meet senior management's business goals. Considering CCP Fozzie's role as a senior game designer, it's also striking that he needs an order from senior management before he can design a change to the wardec mechanics. I don't recall reading anything like this in previous CSM minutes. Is this a sign that things have changed since CCP was purchased by Pearl Abyss? (The acquisition of CCP was publicly announced on September 6th, the final day of the "Winter Summit".) Does "senior" management mean someone more senior than Fozzie at CCP, or someone at Pearl Abyss? Wardec mechanics are a business decision now, after all.
My own reaction to the study's results is that they're immensely positive. They affirm the usefulness of wardecs. If a corp's activity drops during the wardec and remains low after the wardec ends, you know what that means? It means the wardec worked. It's victory. Carebear theme parkists have moaned for years that wardecs don't accomplish anything, that they don't have set goals or an end result. If CCP's statistics are to be believed, wardecs do accomplish something: The losing corp or alliance is often completely destroyed. That's a good mechanic!
Alas, wardecs have long been misunderstood. Next time, we'll help to remedy that by injecting some additional common sense and truth into this discussion.
To be continued...
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