This has been, without question, the most cataclysmic weekend in the history of EVE Online. Not long after I blogged last, EVE News 24 dropped another bombshell: a congratulatory message from CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson, sent to a CCP internal mailing list. Out of context, this e-mail is a bland, somewhat empty string of attaboys commonly written at the C-Suite level. I'm completely convinced of its reality. Not only does the writing style match Hilmar's, but it's filled with exactly the sorts of things we'd expect him to say.
That said, in context, the e-mail is a bombshell because of one paragraph. Here it is:
Currently we are seeing very predictable feedback on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.Emphasis mine (but the same phrase was emphasized at EN24 as well).
Additional context: this e-mail was written about 40 hours after the release of Incarna. That's noonish on June 23, Iceland time. Therefore, this e-mail was written before the Fearless newsletter exploded across the EVE landscape (though somewhat after it was actually released). It was also written before the "devpology" early on the 24th. In short, it was written before any of this shit-storm happened. So, let's try not to take the Hilmar e-mail out of context... if we can avoid it.
It didn't help, though, that when a link to the e-mail was posted to the EVE-O forums, CCP Navigator deleted the thread, stating that private communications from CCP employees were not to be shared with the public.
As a result, we know the Hilmar e-mail is genuine.
And the intent of it is clear: Hilmar knew that vanity MT, and likely the NeX prices themselves, were going to cause conflict within the EVE community. He intended CCP to ride it out... for the wave to pass... for people to get used to it. "This is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say," he says, clearly referencing the fact that -- despite the rage over their prices -- 50-odd monocles had been sold in the first 40 hours. That's $80 U.S./hour, or enough money to pay the salary and benefits of two or three CCP developers.
The release of the e-mail and its attempted censorship unleashed a new wave of player rage. The threadnaught I mentioned Friday is well past 10000 posts now and still climbing far too fast for any single human to keep up with it. It has been read more than one million times now. The comments thread on the Fearless devblog is itself approaching 3000 posts, making it the second-most commented-on devblog ever (only the response to the sanctum/haven nerf in April was bigger).
In context, we know that over the weekend, some 4500 EVE subscriptions have been cancelled and the number is still climbing. That's $67,500 U.S. per month, or enough money to imperil the jobs of 15 or more CCP developers. There's no question that CCP has to respond to "what their players are doing."(1)
And the names of some of players who have unsubbed are shattering. Topping the list is Ombey. Ombey was my very first introduction to what could be done with an EVE fan website. I have a printed, laminated, and bound copy of his 2D EVE maps about two feet from me as I type this. It was an invaluable tool to me during my EVE career. Other key names: Angel HUN (former AT commentator and member of IT and now Raiden.), Don Pellegrino from HYDRA Reloaded, Lallante from Reikoku/BoB, Sokratesz (former CSM member)... the list goes on. These are not casual EVE players. These are -- you will forgive the pun -- titans of the EVE community.
CCP had to respond, and they did. CCP Zulu wrote a second devblog called "The Realities of EVE".
It is... less than ground-breaking.
Fortunately, the first four or five paragraphs of it comes off as extremely apologetic and even a little contrite. There's no question that the devblog was written by someone under a great deal of stress. Even better, it comes off as much more Zulu's "voice" than the prior one, which people all the way up to CSM5 Chair Mynxee described as sounding like it was written by Zulu while someone held a gun to his head. However, paragraph six is just goofy:
However, just to prove the point of the Fearless newsletter and give you a further understanding of what it is then there are no and never have been plans to sell "gold ammo" for Aurum. In Fearless people are arguing a point, which doesn't even have to be their view, they are debating an issue. This is another example of how information out of context is no information at all.Those are some of the three worst-written, evasive sentences that I can imagine. As a denial, they're very weak. As an explanation, they're even worse.
Trebor of CSM6 quickly issued a clarification saying that:
I can tell you without fear of contradiction that "Gold ammo" is shorthand for "any non-vanity item".Even if that is true, the fact that "there are no" and there "never have been" plans for "gold ammo", that doesn't mean "there never will be" such plans. Sure, past tense and present tense are covered. But what about the future? What about non-"items", such as faction standing, attribute boosters, or even skill points? Are they also out? Even the name of the devblog is a little suspect. "The realities of EVE"? What does that even mean?
Given that the comments thread on this new devblog is already picked up 700 posts in about 2.5 hours, I'd say I'm not alone in these views. Trebor has asked for player input for him to take to Iceland to be posted in the devblog thread. At the risk of creating more work for him, I encourage you to do so.
However, the devblog does specify that the CSM has been called to Iceland this coming Thursday and Friday for an unprecedented emergency session to focus on this issue. So far, I see confirmations from Mittens, Trebor, and Meissa that they are definitely going. I haven't seen confirmation from Seleene yet, nor from the other five CSM6 full members. Given the extremely short notice, it seems very likely that there will either be a lot of alternate CSM members in attendance or possibly even only a partial slate of CSM members. We'll have to see.
EDIT (27/Jun/2011): According to two step, the attendees of this emergency session will be full CSM members Mittens, Trebor, Meissa, Draco Lasa, and White Tree; and alt CSM members two step, Elise Randolph and Darius III.
I personally would like to thank the members of CSM6 that are able to attend this session for their extraordinary dedication, and hope the session is productive.
But, yeah. The drama hasn't ended. This is -- if anything -- merely a short pause.
(1) Incidentally, if we assume that this rage is cutting across a spectrum of average EVE players, this post might be the best survey ever done of the number of EVE accounts per average EVE player. 2.25, if you're curious. That means that there are about 140-150 thousand EVE players controlling those 325,000 or so EVE accounts.