Thursday, April 12, 2012

On The Outside Looking In

Blog Banter 35: The Public Perception of EVE Online

Welcome the the thirty-fifth EVE Blog Banter.

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. 

Is this perception deserved? Should "The Nation of EVE" be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]

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First, read this post I wrote right after Mittensgate a couple weeks ago. Its about a post an outsider made about Eve online in which he stated (emphasis mine):
I’m consistently impressed by their open world, single server, high skill cap design, but depressed by their encouragement of a community based on harassment, abuse, and betrayal.
CCP openly condones and encouragements harassment (and worse) of players.
There are so many utterly poisonous game communities out there right now. EVE, WoW, League of Legends. I don’t understand why these game developers just let it get this bad.
 And that is just his opinion of our community. And he is not alone. From the comments on this post:
Yeah, EVE online is a cutthroat competitive game that encourages players to treat each other like shit. You try to get your enemies to quit, and you try to milk your clueless guildmates for all they are worth. It’s not much of a surprise people will take it even further given the anonymity.
But I'm not going to address this post again, I already did so. The point is that this view is not uncommon. Over 6 years I've heard the refrain that "I'd like to play Eve but I don't want to deal with griefers/scammers" or something to that effect. Or that they don't want to have all their stuff stolen or destroyed. Or that they'll never catch up to older players due to the capless timed skill system.

This perception is off. Last week I argued that the Eve community is full of helpful and honourable people but they don't make the news like the scams and tear-harvesters do. I've argued that the skill system is not a detriment to catching up to older players due to the limit on number of skills points you can improve a ship's performance being quite small in reality (more skill points eventually only gives more options, not better performance).

But often perception defines reality and the overwhelming outside perception that Eve Online is filled with jerks, assholes, and sociopaths means that many people who would enjoy the game are put off trying it. And in defence the community circles the wagon and says "we didn't want those subscriptions anyways, HTFU!". Then when CCP tries to do anything to make the daunting task of trying the game more palpable we collectively throw up our arms and cry about "dumbing Eve down" or pandering to WoW kiddies and carebears. Sometimes the naysayers are right, sometimes they are wrong. Its a no win situation.

I think we should be concerned by the Eve community's public image. We need to keep new players coming in to replace losses to players leaving and bad stories stay around forever. We need positive stories to balance the books. I just don't know how to get the good image that we know internally exists out to the wild.

As for DUST 514 players influencing the community? Yeah, I don't see that happening very much at all. The games are different types on different hardware appealing to largely different players, and I don't expect much interaction between the two groups for at least a year.

Bonus Answer: Launch Drones / Drones Engage Target.


  1. 'I think we should be concerned by the Eve community's public image. We need to keep new players coming in to replace losses to players leaving and bad stories stay around forever. '

    Your argument falls down here I'm afraid simply because year on year, EVE subscription numbers increase. Even last year after the Summer of Rage. I personally think the the eliteness and HTFUness of EVE actively attracts a small selection of people burned out on other games / MMOs and ensures New Eden becomes more populated year on year.

    I do absolutely agree with you on the Dust issue though. I think the communities really won't overlap much at all.


  2. Judging by log in numbers, Eve's frowth has been mostly flat since Incarna and were dropping during the summer of rage, and have only recovered to the point of incarna nowadays.


    Look at page 8. I am trying to dig through but CCP confirmed at one point that despite the summer of rage, there were more EVE subscriptions on 1st Jan 2012 then there were on 1st Jan 2011. EVE keeps getting bigger and bigger year on year. There may be troughs as Ripard suggests but the point remains that despite the issues EVE has from time to time, New Eden keeps becoming more populous.


  4. I think you're making a good point here. If the public image of the Eve community was closer to what it really is, Eve would attract more players that would fit well in this community. And what's not to like about that?

  5. CCP and Sony would agree with you. The public image of the Eve Online community needs major improvement, esp. with the upcoming Dust 514 release, in order to draw in the massive increase in subscriber numbers which both companies expect to see over the upcoming years.

    The slapdown on Mittens' behavior at Fanfest is just the beginning. That sort of irresponsible nonsense will no longer be tolerated, and we can expect more of this sort of external restraint being applied in the future - UNLESS we begin to police ourselves a bit better first and work to improve the community's image.

    And, let's not fool ourselves. CCP's investors are not in this for "the love of the game" - they want to see a reasonable ROI and the minor growth exhibited over the past couple of years ain't cutting it. I'm sure that they want to make CCP as attractive as possible for a Sony buyout, and if some "extreme" members of the community need to be sacrificed - so be it.

  6. No doubt EVE has a perception problem. CCP can keep the edge and do a better job of promoting the positives of EVE. We in the community can do alot of good in this regard as well and blogs like this one help a lot IMO. Unfortunately all most folks know about EVE is the negative shit they hear about it. When I talk to someone about EVE and they go off down the greifer bullshit no thanks tirade I just tell them to search Rooks and Kings on You Tube and then talk to me about EVE.

    Are there a fair number of asshats in EVE? Yes. But EVE is a lot like Poker in that you can only lose what you put on the table. EVE punishes stupidity in a very neo-Darwinian way and there are tons of folks willing to help Darwin and Murphy fuck you over.

    If you have patience, perserverance, a little bit of intelligence and a ounce of common sense you can enjoy EVE and be successful. The problem is too many people want to be spoonfend content and accomplishment. EVE will stab in the throat with that spoon if you drop your guard, get greedy, or get impatient. This scares most people. It excites those who play EVE becuase people who play EVE are not most people.

    EVE has a liberty inherent in its design. Unfortunately it makes it very dangerous. Still, I've played for over a year almost every day on 4 different accounts. Never been ganked. Only podded twice (my own damn fault both times) and succumbed to one very stupid Gatecamp becuase I was impatient.

    You can't have it both ways, but we and CCP can do more to sing the universes praises. We are CCPs best advocates.

  7. "But often perception defines reality"

    No truer words have ever been spoken and i've noticed this much more in the EVE community than I have any other game i've played. From the internal perspective of who writes the battlereports and what bloggers are friendly with what alliances all the way to the external perceptions you mentioned in your blog post.

    While this may not perhaps be the best example, there are many groups that people scorn as heartless griefers, due to the inherent nature of their gameplay style, yet in reality they can be quite friendly and helpful if you are polite and composed. However, when someone responds with threats, swearing, and complete rage after losing a ship, unless you just block them, they kind of force you into the role. Even if you offer to give them their T2 mods back, they just swear at you even more and demand you pay for their ship or some other completely irrational thing. Sadly, its these people that complain the most and make the biggest waves, people that expect to get what they want and were never going to be happy anyways.


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