December 2018 was a turning point in the history of EVE Online and CCP. 'Twas the month when everything would change for the better. The game would see a huge spike in the number of active players. Money would come rolling into CCP in wave after endless, ever-growing wave of subscription payments. No longer would people cry "EVE is dying"; instead, it would be the dawn of a new era for EVE. The long-awaited moment had at last arrived.
"But wait," you say. "I don't remember anything important happening in December of 2018. And I certainly have not seen the blessed events you just described coming to pass."
Perceptive eyes, dear reader, for you cannot see something that has not happened. Indeed, those promised blessings did not materialize. But how quickly you forget. In December 2018, CCP officially implemented wardec immunity for pretty much any corp/alliance in highsec that didn't feel like being wardecced anymore. It was supposed to save highsec, but of course it didn't--only the Code can do that.
A couple months before wardec immunity went live, we saw the matter discussed in the CSM meeting minutes and an announcement from CCP. More importantly, there was a seven-part series on MinerBumping that explained the Truth About Wardecs. That's where EVE players got to find out what was really going on.
Here's a quick summary to catch you up: CCP was purchased by Pearl Abyss in September 2018. Though CCP received a lot of money from the deal, nearly half of the total purchase price was contingent on CCP hitting certain business targets. If CCP doesn't hit the targets, they lose out on as much as $200 million. The targets are confidential, but they are probably related to EVE revenue and player numbers over a period of a few years.
Soon after being acquired by Pearl Abyss, CCP announced its plan to grant wardec immunity to the carebears of highsec. This was CCP's big move, the Holy Grail of theme park carebearism. For years, carebears had been begging CCP for this. Carebears were even more passionate about wardec nerfs than all the other nerfs to highsec fun over the years (can-flipping, suicide ganking, awoxing, bumping, etc.).
CCP often granted the carebears' requests, imposing nerf after nerf to any form of highsec risk. But CCP had always resisted making highsec 100% safe. At the request of carebears who assumed that losing a ship hurts new player retention, CCP performed some studies. To their great surprise, the studies proved that I was right and the carebears and CCP were wrong: Ganking improves new player retention. According to CCP Rise, CCP made multiple efforts to find statistics that would prove the opposite, but they kept running into the same brick wall of reality: Making highsec safer doesn't increase player retention.
Fast-forward to 2018, when the Pearl Abyss deal was being finalized. CCP finally found a way to delude themselves into thinking that they could make big bucks by flipping the PvP switch to the "off" position. They performed a study on the effect of wardecs against corporations and found that--to no one's surprise--corps that get wardecced usually suffer a decline in activity. This is natural, since it is the instinct of carebears to scurry away from explosions and seek the safety of alts and NPC corps. Corps that lose wars tend to wither away, as they should.
Pro-theme park carebears attempted to spin the numbers, but the fact was that CCP's wardec study didn't measure subscription cancellation. The only studies to do so were the ones that CCP Rise reported, which showed that player death improves retention. If CCP ever did measure subscription cancellation as part of the wardec study, they have had a year to say so--but they haven't.
Nevertheless, extravagant promises were made in the name of boosting player numbers. With the notable exception of MinerBumping, the loudest voices all sang from the same hymnal. CCP even sent a mass-email (not EVEmail) to players with lapsed accounts, telling them that highsec was about to be made a lot safer. The time for theories and studies and debates was over. Wardec immunity was here! The theme parkist carebears would finally be proven right! Time to get ready for skyrocketing player numbers!
Like the much-hailed awox nerf and all the others before it, the nerf to wardecs utterly failed to increase player numbers or improve player retention. Exactly as I said it would.
In the past, CCP would have shrugged off their failure and consoled themselves by throwing more money at a new VR game or something. But things have changed: Unlike before, CCP has business targets to meet and Pearl Abyss looking over their shoulder. So how would CCP react to the catastrophic flop of their wardec nerf?
To be continued...