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Reader Comments (22)

Posted: May 20th 2010 9:04AM Skellybob said

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'ccp-find-out-what-you-mean-to-me'?

Candidate for best tag ever.

Posted: May 20th 2010 9:34AM (Unverified) said

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He neglected to mention one more aspect of EVE that's led to its success: developers who interact with the players.

When people talk about Blizzard and Sony, they refer to them as companies. We talk about goals and metrics. They're not people, they're just corporations. You guess what they're thinking, without ever knowing.

When you talk to an EVE player about CCP, they talk about all the fun people there, the videos, the in-jokes. You're not playing a game by a corporation, you're playing a game made by a group of fellow humans. When you have questions, you can expect to actually hear an answer from somebody designing the game. How many MMOs can you name that do that?

All his other points are just icing and ice cream on the cake of real human interaction.

-SirNiko

Posted: May 20th 2010 10:54AM (Unverified) said

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CCP is also a smaller company, i'm not defending blizzard but with so many players there is only so many questions and complains you can get too. CCp has that ability because like the article said it's a niche market so they can response even if it takes a little longer
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Posted: May 20th 2010 12:18PM LaughingTarget said

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It's hard to call a game with 300,000 subscribers small. The company also owns White Wolf. Blizzard has no excuses on this front.
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Posted: May 20th 2010 9:47AM Valdamar said

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Where Alexander's logic fails is that when EVE Online and ATitD launched there weren't that many well known MMOs around - back in May 2003 (EVE's launch) there was no WoW, EQ2, CoH, etc. and the major MMOs with over 100k subs were EQ1, DAoC and UO in the west. Heck EVE's launch in May 2003 was a month before SWG launched (with no space flight, tellingly). EVE was the first spaceflight MMO - heck, AO may have been the only other sci-fi MMO out at that time - which gave it a lot of novelty value.

Nowadays the market is glutted, with new free-to-play MMOs launching seemingly every week, WoW owning the mainstream market, and every other triple-A MMO clinging to the edges of WoW hoping either to get any players that leave WoW or otherwise doing their best to retain what loyal customers they gained from their launch buzz.

If EVE Online launched today, using the same launch model they did in 2003, could they gradually build up to the same level of success they're having now? Sure, I get that EVE has a very loyal fanbase, but to get a fanbase and build it up to more profitable levels takes time - the time to add content gradually like CCP have done and earn the playerbase's loyalty. In todays glutted market with so many "MMO tourist" players hopping between the next new thing every month it would be very hard for an independent studio with such a slow non-flashy game to get noticed in the crowd, get such a large early playerbase, and "earn" that time to improve.

If EVE launched today there would be a very great chance of it falling between the cracks, not being noticed and ending up no more popular than most of the independent MMOs that have shut down due to being unprofitable - I don't think CCP would be given the time to build it up into something greater. They were in the right place at the right time and their "trick" may never be repeated.

CCP haven't launched an MMO in the last few years so their knowledge of what will work in today's market is somewhat out of date. Nobody knows, that's why the MMO industry is such a gamble - nobody has the answers - you just have to try something, put it out there in the public domain and see if it sinks or swims.

Posted: May 20th 2010 12:06PM Renko said

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The problem is that new MMOs just don't grow anymore. Developers know their peak subscription numbers will be at launch and then it's just a question of how quickly they go down hill.

It takes a lot of courage nowadays to aim for niche and hope to grow with developers just going for the easy option of large initial box sale income followed by inevitable decline.

Any company that tries the CCP way deserves credit for having the bravery to put their game first over profits.
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Posted: May 20th 2010 1:26PM karnisov said

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@valdamar: i think your assessment is very accurate.
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Posted: May 21st 2010 5:57AM oddshrub said

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I'm not sure the MMO market has really changed that much from 2003 till today.

You had the mainstream pve overdog in EQ and while it wasn't packing millions 500.000 subscribers was quite a lot at the time. Today that is filled by WoW and to some extend Lotro.

You had the faction vs faction pvp focused game with a smaller playerbase in DAOC. Today that role is filled by WAR.

You had the "Asian grindfest on the western market" in Lineage. There might've been others, I've never really liked those games so I don't know much about them. Today you have several, I'm not sure which one is bigger? Aion?

You had the noobwegian pve niche game in Anarchy Online. Today Age of Conan is trying to fill it's shoes, but since AO is still wearing them it's not going too well. ;)

There was the popular sci-fi movie made MMO in SWG. Today it's startrek online.

If you count early 2004 there was even a superhero game with city of heroes.

The list goes on, but Shadowbane would probably make the most relevant one in this discussion. Shadowbane was a nifty sandbox game with a rich backstory. It had a focus on FFA pvp, item looting and player a player runned world so it was in essence everything that eve-online is, and, it released two months before eve-online did.

I'm sure we can fairly easily agree on areas where Wolfpack went wrong, but I do believe they had more subscribers doing 2003 than eve did. Yet today their game has been shit down and Eve-online has developed into, in my opinion, the best MMO available. So I think it's fair to say CCP did, and continue to do, something right. ;)
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Posted: May 21st 2010 8:52AM Valdamar said

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Well to my knowledge EverQuest never passed 450k subscribers (SOE certainly never released a press release saying they'd hit 500k and in the market back then they certainly would have because it was a major milestone).

But that's besides the point - sure, there's parallels between which games launched in 1999-2003 and now - genres and playstyles haven't changed much in the past 5-6 years and DIKU-clones like EQ and WoW are still in the centre field - but the major difference is that the 1999-2003 crop weren't competing with a successful earlier generation that had already blazed a path (the earlier MMOs had mostly been MUDs, which couldn't compete on the same ground as the new MMOs due to graphical deficiencies, oh and Meridian 59 which never really hit the levels UO and EQ did a few years later for whatever reasons).

I played EverQuest for 3 years 1999-2002 - not because it was such a great game (it had its moments!) but because there were just so few other MMOs around to go to, and of those few (and back then I played every new MMO that came out as there were so few) none really caught my imagination. Nowadays MMO gamers are spoiled for choice - if one MMO "lets you down" in some way by being too bugged, too unstable, too grindy/dull, or lacking a specific feature you want then there's always other MMOs to try. There's not the same dearth of MMOs out there to act as an incentive to stay loyal.

Shadowbane is a good point and quite relevant - open PvP MMOs always struggle (EVE being the exception), and - unlike EVE - Shadowbane was treading familiar fantasy turf so it lacked EVE's novelty value. Shadowbane also had far more bugs and instability than EVE early on, which is also going to damage an MMO's chances.

Anyway we'll have to agree to disagree on our opinions of the market conditions in 1999-2003/4 and now. Though I do agree with you that CCP has done a lot right - with the obvious care they've taken gradually building up their MMO - I still think they were lucky to launch at a time when there just were no other space MMOs - in today's glutted market it would be so much easier for them to "fall through the cracks" and never get that chance to slowly grow an MMO - even moreso once Jumpgate Evolution, Black Prophecy, etc have launched - same genre, even though they're going for different playstyles.

We'll have to see if Fallen Earth can pull off the same trick CCP did, but in today's market, seeing as Icarus Studios are in a similar situation to CCP in 2003 - breaking new ground genre-wise (no prior post-apoc MMOs), independent studio/funding, sandbox model, open PvP, committed to continual improvement, etc.
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Posted: May 20th 2010 10:01AM (Unverified) said

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While EVE's business model may be great, sandbox games do not appeal to many players -- I'd argue, the majority. Some players like myself see playing an MMO like getting into a series of books. I like to see stories unfold, so in a sandbox, the 'stories' tend to be what other players are doing, and that usually boils down to their attempts to level-up or get revenge after being ganked. Fun sure, but not an engaging story past 10 minutes or so. Corporations/guilds provide the same basic 'stories', just with more people at a time.

Hopefully CCP's lessons learned can eventually be applied outside of the sandbox genre.

Posted: May 20th 2010 1:22PM ScottishViking said

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This is a sensible reply. Mind you, I don't think that most stories are revenge-ganks, but there is certainly a competitive dynamic that does drive content and story, as a whole. But yes, in general, we should be careful about over-generalizing MMO successes, especially when talking about EVE, which is not a "standard MMO" by any stretch of the imagination. (And I mean that in a good way, for the most part.)
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Posted: May 20th 2010 1:31PM karnisov said

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the appeal of the sandbox is the players' ability to actually shape the world. what's the most common complaint about themepark mmos? "I went to the place and did the thing and killed the guy and nothing changed". the sandbox is the remedy for that.
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Posted: May 20th 2010 4:52PM (Unverified) said

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I disagree. In general, with the sandbox, there is no story, no reason to kill a 'guy', ..there *is* no guy, because NPC's barely matter. You change the game world by winning a PvP confrontation and claiming sovereignty (in EVE's case). Flipping a bit in the game database, saying that some hexagon (or solar system) is now owned by X corporation, is not advancing an _engaging_ story. It's just a protracted pvp battle.

I think you're assuming that "player history" constitutes a "story", and that doesn't satisfy the same gaming desire. Player-generated content isn't the same as game-world-deity-created content ;)
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Posted: May 21st 2010 8:58AM Valdamar said

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I think this is why the dynamic content in Guild Wars 2 is going to be so compelling - it will have the direction and guided storytelling of the theme park MMOs, but with the world-changing and player input of the sandbox - a hybrid of the best points in both. I think it's going to be the next big innovation in the industry and in 3-5 years we can expect to see a slew of clones using it, until it becomes the norm - cloned from like the WoW/EQ model is, if you will.
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Posted: May 21st 2010 6:30PM (Unverified) said

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But that's the point. Eve isn't aiming for the mainstream. They're surviving and thriving in a market they largely built and created for themselves. They aren't after your demographic. They addressed a need for a large, complex sandbox world and are steadily building it out. Hats off to them, for sure.
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Posted: May 20th 2010 10:02AM Stormwaltz said

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The problem is more basic. I think at this point, everyone accepts that you can make a profitable MMG is you embrace a niche and service it well. DAoC's RvR has been proving it for longer than EVE's spreadsheets and sandboxes.

The problem is that merely being "profitable" has somehow become equated with "failure." It's not enough for an MMG to have 200k subs and pay for itself - it has to have millions of subs. It has to be a "WoW-killer." Publishers and venture capitalists seldom bankroll anything that doesn't promise the moon.

Posted: May 20th 2010 10:51AM Darkdust said

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I think this highlights the real issue -- swinging for the fences on every pitch, rather than just playing small ball and being happy with bunts and walks and infield bloopers that get you on base.
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Posted: May 20th 2010 11:49AM (Unverified) said

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You're only half right: it's foolish to try and be the biggest and the best, but it's equally foolish to just sit back and be content with mediocrity. Aim high, and if you only get a double instead of a home run, be proud.

Other games promise big things they know they can't deliver, and then follow up by delivering nothing. They try to charge the same fees as the big boys for what amounts to inferior content in every metric you could possibly use to measure them.

That's why you have MMO tourists: because you can exhaust the length and bredth of the novel content of most modern MMOs in two months of play.

-SirNiko
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Posted: May 20th 2010 4:26PM daicon said

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If what he says is true then maybe Mortal Online will become a success, lol

Posted: May 20th 2010 12:19PM wufiavelli said

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Think what is more important is knowing your resources and limitations and doing the best with them.

MO currently likes to brag they followed this model. But they definitely chewed off way more they can chew. if you are releasing something that is buggy and crappy, saying you are indy is not an excuse (somewhat buggy and cruddy is ok but MO levels no). You should have planned for this long back. Scale back, maybe make a browser MMO or something cheaper instead.

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