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Monday, June 27, 2011

Wow... Clusterfuck of epic proportions

CCP has, in the past, managed to piss off the player base, fairly significantly even.  But this time they may just have crossed that line in the sand.  I've been holding off on posting about the shit storm because the iRabble (internet rabble - coining it if it's not been coined yet) is doing a great job of it.  Pitchforks and torches are being waved about and what not.  I suspect that CCP having had such a long string of success has finally lost touch with it's player base.  Reports of Perpetuum receiving a major influx of players could be rather telling.  Up until now you haven't seen people un-sub en-mass from EVE due to changes.  EVE has not yet reached an NGE moment.  But it's definitely walked up to the edge of the precipice.  We'll have to see if CCP can pull back from the precipice.  Or not.  The upcoming (this weekend) CSM meeting will be crucial.  If any of the CSM members un-subs and says they can't tell us why due to the NDA, THAT will definitely precipitate an exodus out of New Eden. 

Personally I haven't been on EVE much lately.  I'm still cogitating about sticking around or not.  Keeping the alts subbed in or not.  I've got time to make my decision before their subscriptions come up for renewal so if I quit it wont' be a rage quit - it'll be a much more calmly considered change of gaming venue.

The most amusing thing is that they could have so easily avoided touching match to powder keg.  This has been a game design/marketing failure of epic proportions.  Think about it.  There's a price/volume curve to goods.  Places like Walmart pander to the masses looking for cheap affordable goods.  Gucci, to the rich and the rich-wannabes.  Both have a place in the market place.  I suspect that Walmart's  net profits are higher than Gucci's though (quantity has a quality all it's own).  Due to the number of students and other "not rich" types who play EVE you'd guess that their mentality vis-a-vis price would be closer to the Walmart end of the curve rather than the Gucci end of the curve.  Then you need to realize that your average non-vet looks at the value of anything in game from the metric of their IN GAME income (which is level 3 missions or mining in a Retriever once they graduate out of newbiedom).  Until you've been playing this game for over a year or two anything in the price range of 400 million to 1.5 billion is "forget about it - it's one day in the distant future, not for now".

All CCP had to do to avoid the current crisis of confidence was make sure that the NEX (Nobel Exchange) was stocked with a mix of items ranging from relatively in-expensive to very expensive.  They could have kept the monacle at it's current price if they'd stocked the store with cheaper items.  The impression that they were pandering to the ultra-rich veterans and/or bot/rmt users was what pissed off most of their players (the ones it didn't piss off, have a firmer rooting in reality or were themselves ultra-rich - in game).  Admittedly they were impressive when they went for the jugular and broke the 25$ psychological barrier on virtual goods that seems to have been established by World of Warcraft.  But the way they did it just about guaranteed a shit storm.  This primed the powder keg.

Then they touched off the match.  Leaks showing that the direction they wanted to take the noble exchange were explicitly in the direction that the player base clearly stated they didn't want it to go.  CSM5 with Mynxee at it's helm was rather clear on this.  Nevertheless here we are.  Leaked documents showing senior developers arguing the position of greed vs junior statistician arguing that it would be a bad idea.  CCP Zulu can argue it was a document that was used internally to incite debate.  Who is saying what is damning in the extreme.  This was not two senior developers debating the pros and cons.  This was a senior developer (and CCP Soundwave is by now) exposing the game design point of view.  And a statistician saying "this may not be a good idea".  The subtext there is that "but I can't prove anything until after it hits the fan and we analyze the loss in the player base".  And we know from other sources that CCP is very much a "Clique" driven shop.  EVE's player base is not stupid (far from it - EVE is self selecting away from that).  They can read between the lines and can by now spot a scam at 1000 yards with their Eyeball Mk I's.

Then to add icing to the cake we've got more leaked information CCP Hilmar (the president) basically saying "don't worry about it, we've seen this before, it'll all blow over".  He even goes on to boast that they sold 52 monacles in the first 40h.  Um... Hilmar... you realize that's a pittance compared to what you should have made sales wise during that period if you'd set up the store properly with a range of goods instead of just the "high end"?  Such dismal performance should be embarrassing - not something to be proud of.  The tone of the e-mail indicates that he fully expected the player reaction to happen.  So the newly clarified direction EVE is taking is driven from the top.  The interesting thing is that the reaction CCP foot soldiers have taken basically seem to reinforce the position that these leaks represent the true position and direction CCP wants to take the game.  I have to tell you that should this turn out to be true, I won't long be in this game.  Which is a shame.

There is nothing else quite like EVE out there.  Should something come along that provides a modicum of similar sandbox features while pandering less to the griefers and botters, I'd be there in a minute.  There still isn't, so I'm loathe to abandon EVE just yet.  We'll just have to wait and see.


Benoit CozmikR5 Gauthier said...

For you guys in-game I sincerely hope that CCP smells the proverbial coffee before it turns into a black cookie at the bottom of the pot.

Oh question: you busy tonite? :)

Magson said...

I wasn't planning to quit becuz of Incarna or the NEX. I thought the threadnoughts were amusing reading.

But Zulu's attitude in his 1st blog pissed me off, so I canceled over that instead. I've not really played since last November anyway. seems as good an excuse to pull the plug as any.

Letrange said...

@Magson fair enough.

Knug Lidi said...

Sitting here with fingers crossed that we don't fall off the edge into the coffee cookie . . .

I do have to be honest to say that the line between acceptable (to me) and unacceptable MT items is not entirely clear to me. While I can easily point to things that are acceptable (that fluffy stole) and items that are unacceptable (painted ships without hull trade-in) there are many things they could do that fall in between.

An example from another game, would you consider allowing a consumable that would increase a characters SP accumulation rate for a limited time ? I am quite honest when I say this kind of offering would not be the end of the game (IMHO). However, many would have different opinions on the matter. I simply to not see the harsh black/white that others seems to be anchored to.

Toldain said...

I'm feeling considerably more optimistic than I did last week. I think I have a model in my head that explains their behavior, the Fearless articles, and sustains their position that they are committed to no Pay To Win.

In short, I think ironic satire was involved, and it was understandably misunderstood by the player base. You can read my much more long-winded version outlining my process here

The tone of Zulu's first post was indeed a problem, but I think I get what was going on in his head at the time. He also seems to get now what was going on in our heads, which he didn't then.

I agree that the CSM meeting is important, but I'm now willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until then.