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I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baby in the bath-water?

Take a look at the first page of the CSM May Summit Meeting minutes, and you'll find this:
CCP began by announcing a formal organizational change that has been made within CCP. The CSM project has been moved out of the Research and Statistics department and is now alongside Customer Support, Community Management and The Volunteer Division – since all these communicate directly with customers it makes perfect sense to have them all under the same person for maximum synergy. Ívar, the current Director of Customer Support is this person. Ívar is a co-founder to CCP, a former CEO of CCP, former CFO and has basically served any and all roles imaginable within CCP.

This move of the CSM project had been planned for a while, as the CSM has been proven as a concept, and is such a natural progress of the project.

Guess which department is being hit particularly hard by the lay-off today?

Yep.  As far as I can tell, a significant portion of the Community Management team -- if not all of them -- are among the affected.  All the names I know are affected, anyway.

You know, it wouldn't take any effort at all for Hilmar to pull CSM6 into a Skype meeting and begin the conversation with "Given the huge cost challenges that CCP is facing this year..." and end it with "Unfortunately, this means that the December Summit is canceled." and maybe even "...and we'll be discontinuing the CSM after the current term."  And it'd be a very tough argument for CSM6 to refute, given the situation that 115-120 people are looking for work today.  How do you justify free Iceland trips in the face of that?

Probably just blind speculation on my part, but interesting nonetheless.

The impact of hitting the Community Management team with such a hard lay-off in the current customer climate is a larger issue and deserves closer attention... but probably not by me. I think I'll beg Mynxee to come out of retirement and write her thoughts on it. She knows that team better than I do.


  1. I put on my cynic hat and robe:

    As customer management, they didn't do much of a job of managing the customers, did they? Riots, mass unsubscriptions, subscriptions stalling and falling off. Obviously not worth keeping.

    As for the CSM, what are they but a thorn in the side of CCP management? What utility have they ever provided to the company? CSM hasn't made CCP any money.

    Cynical comment over.

  2. I think CCP still has uses for the CSM as a public meatshield. The fact that they can likely write off the vast majority of the CSM Summit meetings means it's not really a massive expense for them.

    While it might be a fun bit of schadenfreude... I can't really see CCP getting rid of that particular body.

  3. Another possible way to look at this is why pay people a salary when you can get the job done for free by volunteers if you give them the occasional free trip to Iceland.

    Who calmed down the riots in the summer? The CSM when they told everyone we have seen the future and we can't reveal its mysteries but it is good.

  4. @Lateris: I understand that they were, yes, and pretty hard as well.

    @Stabs: good point. And Trebor has confirmed that CCP has bought the December Summit airfares already.


  5. I would like to know how, as a company, CCP can justify continuing the CSM after axing 114 jobs out of the clear blue sky. There's really nothing more TO write about it. As I posted on FHC, the annual expenses for 9 CSMs to travel from all over the world to Iceland 3 times (referring to the trend in CSM5 and CSM6 for an unplanned "emergency" trip) has got to approach at least one dev salary at the shit rates CCP is purported to pay. I'd also like to hear what kind of salary cuts the top brass is taking, in some kind of effort to save jobs. If CCP is not doing that, nor cutting the CSM, then in my view these cuts were less about cost-cutting and much more likely politically motivated. This is not intended to disparage the CSM, by the way. I think they work hard. I'm all for the CSM concept. But in hard times, there are few reasons I can think of for a company to sacrifice the jobs of loyal, dedicated employees while continuing to fund a volunteer council of customers. The Council's counsel is THAT valuable? Perhaps...or perhaps CCP doesn't want to face the potential shitstorm that might ensue if they disband the Council. Or perhaps this round of layoffs is just Phase 1 of the reorg plan...maybe there are more surprises to come. Wouldn't shock me to learn in the minutes of the planned December Summit that the CSM6 term is the last.

  6. I don't think CCP would dismiss the CSM, since it would SEEM like a kick in the groins of the customers, whom the CSM represent. This would shatter the mutual trust between CCP and the player base even more. They can't afford to drop this institution.

  7. I don't know that they want to do a press conference saying "Budget cuts have forced us to eliminate our democratically elected government," I'm sure at a certain point even CCP can sense the impending bullseye.

    The CSM is as much an external trophy for the game as it is a tool for CCP to evaluate their decisions in a test market. When they trot out the CSM in Iceland twice (or three times) a year it carries a certain cachet with the gaming media. I'm sure at least once a year someone senior in another gaming company goes "Why can't we do that?"

    That said there might be better ways to do it. 1 conference in Iceland, 1 where the US reps go to Atlanta, Euro to Iceland, Asians to Shanghai maybe, to cut on airfare and teleconference everything.

    It's always sad to see jobs go, and god knows Atlanta needs all the help it can right now, but like I said, I suspect a lot of people will be quietly re-hired once CCP knows better what it's budget will be in the coming year. They usually get their loans at the beginning of Nov according to their financials IIRC.

  8. @madhaberdashers: The CSM is *not* a government. At the end of the day, they were created as a publicity stunt coming out of the T20 situation. Do not fool yourself into thinking the CSM has any *real* power, no matter what Mittens says next winter. ;-)

  9. Asuri Kinnes here.

    Weren't they all (or mostly) from Shanghai and Atlanta? WoD was Shanghai I think.

  10. The affected were mostly Atlanta. 80 there. 35 or so in Reyk. Remaining handful elsewhere.

    Shanghai is focused on DUST 514.


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