Blog Banter 77 – The Malaise
Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it’s just another bout of summer “ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!”
Another “Is Eve dying?” debate.
Yeah, in some ways Eve is dying. It is an old game. Ancient, really, when you look at online games. Player count in unambiguously down. New player retention is poor, and it always has been. But I think simply looking at those metrics ignores some aspects of Eve.
Mechanically, Eve is in the best place it has been since I started playing about five and a half years ago. It isn’t perfect. No MMO is perfect. But the devs continue to refine, improve and update all aspects of the game. This work appears to be ongoing with little sign of stopping in the near future. Structures are being overhauled. Capitals are being revitalized. PvE content is finally seeing some attention. No, none of these changes are perfectly balanced or finished, but the changes and additions keep coming. So from a gameplay perspective, Eve is fine, and will probably keep getting better.
Regarding players, yeah, we lose players. We gain new ones too. Anecdotally my corp has steadily grown for over two years. Some of our most dedicated players are players who started in that time frame and having their own journey through the game. New players have multiple groups they can join now that just let new people in. That never used to be the case. Skill injectors let people pay money(!) to get past some of the new player skill hurdles. I see new players picking the game up, investing time, and more than their monthly sub in it.
Regarding content, I can only speak to where I live, which is wormholes. We are finding tons of content. Both PvE site running, PvP fights in the chain, people picking up industry, PI, ninja huffing, all sorts of things. As leadership the hardest problem for me to solve is not that I have too few things to do, but too many choices. Some nights when I decide not to play the reason is because I can’t focus one the idea of doing one thing among many I could do.
For members, if someone says they are bored, I’m not sure how to parse it. We have a tripwire that is often ten systems wide and four or five systems deep. I often take it to mean that the player who is bored isn’t getting the content they want at the time they want it. This is fundamentally an issue of where you choose to live in Eve, what your corp is focused on, the nature of that corp and space, and how your goals align with your fellow online corp mates. But that problem is not indicative of Eve being unhealthy in terms of content. It is a problem for players and corp leadership to solve.
Low sec and null may be different. I don’t go there, unless I am hunting for players or sites. So null or faction war or the pirate havens may be dull. I sometimes feel that risk aversion and blobbing has gotten rather bad in Eve, but that is, again, a player choice, and a subjective judgment. I find “getting blobbed” usually means they brought more than you, and at least in wormholes, you have to learn to do some scouting and intel work. And accept that you don’t always get the win.
We just saw one of the biggest wars the game has ever had. The fighting, depending on how you define the war, lasted upwards of six months and spread across most of the north of the map. The northeast saw some sorties with russians fighting people. Low sec formed a coalition, which in my time in Eve is pretty rare thing. In wormholes there are plenty of little fights, and some rather large fights going on with citadels. People are doing stuff.
From a blog and podcast perspective, I think you see exactly what some others have posted. The playerbase is older. Many of us have kids, jobs, spouses. We can’t write three articles a week, record a podcast every other week and find time to play. But the quality of the podcasts is probably better than ever. The blogs are always hard to track, and the loss of Ripard Teg many moons ago probably saw the highest bar for quality and quantity pass us by. But he was an outlier in terms of volume and content. We have at least three sites picking up authors writing many good articles and many others getting far more visibility than a solo blog would provide. Many voices in the blog realm are still going strong. World War Bee was so well documented and discussed that we don’t even need a Andrew Groen-style book about it. (But I really want one, so write it, please!)
Is Eve dying? It might be slowing down in some areas. It is summer time, and a giant war just ended. I’m not sure we’ll ever see some of the peak player count numbers from years past. But we are not in some sort of free fall. The game is trucking along. I think the worst I could say is Eve may be entering a long twilight. But development is active and that twilight may last just as long, or longer, than the game already has.
If you think Eve is dying, I would pose a different set of questions back to you. Is Eve dying, or are you just moving away from the game? Are you engaging the way you used to? Are you going out and looking for content, or waiting for someone to serve it to you? If you are bored, or you don’t find the joy or the excitement, that is perfectly fine. But consider your own choices in Eve before telling the rest of us that the game is dead. Where my ships fly, it looks pretty lively.