Blog Banter # 52 – The Other Side
Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 51st edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.
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Go to the always useful EVE-Offline.net (http://eve-offline.net/?server=tranquility) and take a look at the All Time (weekly average) graph for concurrent accounts logged in.
For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.
What’s on the other side of that plateau?
Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that ‘never’ is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.
Also, what would EVE be like with an order of magnitude fewer or more players?
I have been playing eve-online for over four years now. I can say that I have lost and regained interest at least a dozen times since I started in 2009. I know I am not alone; players get bored of their daily routine and decide to take a break for a few months. I would venture to say that most of the swing on that graph is mostly long term players and their alts leaving and rejoining a few months/years later. However, the graph doesn’t just fluctuate because of a few long term members who constantly leave and return.
Eve is a niche game, there is nothing like it and it isn’t for everyone. That has been my opinion for years as I have tried to convince my friends that this should be their game. Of course most of them never make it past the dreaded 21 day trial. I could dissect why eve doesn’t attract new members but it boils down to the fact that eve is not easy. Players are thrown into a UI nightmare with so many options that most gamers can’t even figure out how to undock let alone to fit out a ship. Additionally most new players don’t realize that in eve everything you ever made: Skill points, isk, ships, could be lost forever and they can’t do anything about it. I suspect that less than a percent stay after a 3 month period and taking that into effect the veterans of eve-online affect the global population much more than the new recruits ever will.
Then there are the alternate accounts. As a player progresses through eve-online they find out how many players have more than one account and the benefits that come with them. More accounts mean players can make more ISK, train more skills, and spend less time traveling between two areas (Remember that dual skill training is a new thing). These accounts number in the tens of thousands and might be subbed or unsubbed as players deem them necessary. These accounts swing that active player graph more than we could ever know.
What does this mean? Well, when some veterans leave they take two or three accounts offline with them. As a long term player returns they often only bring one account online at first and then activate more alts as they are needed. So theoretically if equal players are leaving and joining then more accounts are leaving eve-online then are returning. However, we can see that the numbers on the graph go up and down and are stabilized around that 30,000 mark. This happens because there is a steady flow of new players joining even if it is only for a month or two and eventually alts are subbed by long term or retired long term players. Additionally expansions tend to attract retired players and new members alike which keep the graph moving in an upward direction. These two forces of retiring players and new/returning players are what keeps the graph relatively stable the last four years.
I would like to see the graph of actual players as that would be more informative of how health eve-online really is. I suspect not even CCP has that information though because there is no “marking” of an alternate account. Without this information it is difficult to say how long eve-online will continue to survive. So to the question, what is on the other side of the Plateau? Well, I would like to say more plateau at least for a few more years, but eventually it will decline. The simple fact is that eve is 10 years old and it is going very strong, but eventually all games come to an end and eve is no different. It has the odds in its favor and could be the longest running MMO of all time because it caters to a specific group of players and its creators are careful to watch the changes they implement within the game.
What would Eve be like with a magnitude of fewer players? That is simple, eve online thrives on a large player base and once it declines it will hit a specific low number (tipping point) when players will leave in a hurry. Eve is a huge sandbox and removing the players who mine, make the ships, start the wars, fight the wars, and loot the spoils would only cause the other players to get bored and leave the game. So much of the content in eve is created by players a lack of them would cause eve to start declining very quickly. If there were more players there would be more player generated content and the game would continue to thrive for years to come. I suspect we will see eve-online continue its journey and survive for another ten years but eventually all good things must come to an end.
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