Welcome to Jester's Trek.
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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Monday, January 2, 2012

Quote of the Week: Cannibals

Going to cheat a bit with the QOTW, because thanks to the Christmas holidays, there was not a lot going on last week...  So, my QOTW for this week is this (actually posted on the 23rd):
For now, registration is available exclusively to active subscribers of EVE Online who will join the pool of participants that we will be using to allow entry into early testing and special events for DUST 514.
It comes from the announcement that closed beta testing has begun for DUST 514, linked as an EVE devblog.

The announcement that the first beta testers for DUST 514 would come from the EVE subscriber base is, to me, not particularly surprising.  After all, if CCP hadn't gone this route, there would be a lot of ticked-off potential DUST players out there watching as people who haven't been loyal to CCP for years got the first crack at their persistent shooter.  That's not a recipe for happy customers.  So on that level, offering access to EVE players first makes perfect sense.

On the other hand, of course, why is there not an immediately-planned PC release for the DUST 514 game?  The stated reason, other than the PS3 exclusivity deal, of course, is that CCP was very concerned about "cannibalizing" the EVE player base.  To simply move customers you already have from one of your properties to another is no way to grow your customer base or ensure your long-term viability as a company.  So on that level, offering access to EVE players first seems a minor mistake.

It's a mistake for another reason as well: in order to succeed, DUST is going to have to appeal to the hard-core FPS player demographic.  I'm pretty sure that isn't the typical EVE player.  The typical EVE player seems a lot more interested in the prospect of nuking hard-core FPS players from orbit.  ;-)

Is this an attempt to get some of those hard-core FPS players to try EVE for a month or two?  Entirely possible!  Be interesting to see if this devblog or something like it was posted around to the PS3 player forums or similar locations.  Anyone have proof that it was?

In the meantime, 2012 is the year we see if CCP can break out of the niche they've dug for themselves.  As a result, a DUST 514-related quote seems entirely appropriate for the first QOTW of the new year.

9 comments:

  1. "The announcement that the first beta testers for DUST 514 would come from the EVE subscriber base is, to me, not particularly surprising. After all, if CCP hadn't gone this route, there would be a lot of ticked-off potential DUST players out there watching as people who haven't been loyal to CCP for years got the first crack at their persistent shooter."

    Indeed, and I would have been one of them! I'm all signed up and ready to go.

    I think CCP was smart to start with consoles, and smart to be on the PS3 first (even though it wasn't planned that way). As a console player and owner of both major consoles, I feel that the PS3 customers seem a better initial fit for this game. I think eventually we'll see a PC version though, unfortunately (unlike consoles, it's too easy to hack and cheat on the PC which unbalances the game for the console players).

    I do also think that CCP is hoping that more than a few of Sony's 50 million customers try Dust and find that they're more interested in Eve. Dust will have its own healthy base, but it should also serve to attract new players to Eve itself.

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  2. Yes, using EVE players to test Dust seems weird at first glance as you described. EVE players are long-attention-span, PC-savvy, sound-averse, detail-oriented spreadsheet jocks. Console players are -well, the opposite.

    It does make sense from 2 perspectives though. a) if CCP is actually trying to really debug the game from a technical standpoint (as opposed to advertising as you suggest), EVE players are likely much more diligent, committed and forgiving than regular console players. b) DUST has received a lot of bad press among EVE players (being a resource sink and so on). Winning a few EVE players over to the DUST side will generate a Buzz in the EVE community and make the rest of us look forward to bomb planets in the next expansion. This then extends the good vibe of Crucible and restores CCP reputation in the gaming press. And if the game bombs out and fails in the beta miserably, well, its just a few thousand EVE players, not the leading voices playing Halo or the real competitors for DUST when it comes out....

    Seen this way, smart move, CCP....

    (Should I get a console? I guess I need TV first?)

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  3. I'm pretty sure CCP's intent is for the EVE players to get all their hard-core FPS playing friends to want to try it...

    so that they can nuke them from orbit.

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  4. "The typical EVE player seems a lot more interested in the prospect of nuking hard-core FPS players from orbit. ;-)"

    That prospect warms even the heart of a whiney little carebear.

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  5. I used to be a hard-core FPS player, but then I got nuked from orbit.

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  6. I've generally just kept my mouth shut regarding Dust514 as FNG fearing the backlash of EVE players that are upset over various things (PS3 exclusivity, taking time away from FiS, etc), but the response within the PS3 community has been overwhelmingly positive. I haven't seen any "official" statements on the PS3 side of things concerning the beta, but PS3 and FPS forums have both been talking about it anyway.

    The people that seem most excited about it are not casual gamers or the mainstream audience tbh. I don't think it was intentional on CCP's part, but Dust is mostly attracting a niche of hardcore gamers within the FPS communities. I get the impression PC-only gamers aren't entirely aware of the existence of these people in console gaming, but "clans" of people have existed for years on consoles and they move from game to game as each old release stops being supported usually in favor of its sequel. Even if the games themselves don't support it, they'll sport specific PSN IDs to represent they're all from the same group, go out of their way to reconnect constantly to get teams into the same gaming lobby, worship kill:death ratios in a way that would put Battleclinic to shame, and practice for hours to get the perfect strategies and tactics on every map. These are the people excited about Dust more than any other, because it might actually be the game in which all of that stuff stands to be recognized by the entire game...in a persistent universe.

    The biggest things that CCP can do in my eyes to ensure a long lasting FPS fanbase, are provide private matches so that teams can practice together (the Sisi of Dust effectively) and support some type of real world recognition for top players. Some type of Alliance Tournament style setup with free trips to Fanfest for the winners would work fine. CCP also needs to sort out how they're going to handle people profiting from the Dust IP. Sponsorships from peripherals manufacturers for professional players is pretty common, and gaming outlets like to host their own tournaments with cash prizes. I think attempting to stifle those things would be a poor move on CCP's part...and just the kind of thing they might do.

    In case it's not completely obvious by now, I've signed up for the Beta and would be thrilled to get in. If I do, I'll probably blog about my experiences with it, and be spreading the game to everyone I know within the PS3 community. Here's hoping.

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  7. Good QOTW. I am eagerly watching DUST514, not with an intention to play it (I've never been a big console fan), but rather out of interest to see how it does. Wedding together two diametrically opposed genres is one of the most ambitious projects I've ever heard of a game company undertaking - especially one like CCP which has no solid experience with the PS3 or FPS games and extremely limited resources (both in finances and skills). It would be ambitious even if a company like EA or Activision was backing it as a "potential loss making experiment" let alone a comparative lightweight such as CCP.

    On paper CCP is almost destined to fail with DUST in one aspect or another - their almost total lack of experience both with the platform and genre doesn't bode well in a market that is extremely well established with some incredible titles out there. My gut feeling is that this will end up being like a 2012 version of Battlefield 2142 (probably the least sucessfull title in the battlefield series). Furthermore, microtransactions (which are sure to work their dirty way into DUST514) while sucessful in the comic-styled Team Fortress may not port well to a more serious storyline and economy driven game.

    In the current age of Battlefield 3, Call of Duty and Halo the hardcore FPS players expect advanced battlefield promotion mechanisms, intuitive communications and UIs, well balanced classes and a progressive achievement system that is neither too easy nor too hard.

    I can't help but expect that CCP will probably struggle to even produce a game that has decent frame rates and a bugless play experience. Plus the very way in which DUST514 gets integrated into EVE however large or small could cause huge upset to the players of both games.

    If CCP are smart they will invent some new dimension of play (I expect based around PI/Sov) which in no way interacts with any part of the current game (except in so much as it generates and consumes ISK). That will probably make existing Eve players more receptive to the idea. I expect though that a greed driven decision by CCP will be made somewhere along the line to encourage a situation where it is extremely profitable to play both DUST514 and EVE - in the hope they can get considerable subscriptions to both games.

    Never the less, despite my pessimistic appraisal I'm still holding out that somehow, against the odds, CCP will manage it. Ultimately in buisness as in life risk takers are the ones that have the potential to suceed (or fail) big time. If it works this could propel CCP from icelandic medium sized buissness to global industry heavyweight. Ultimately despite the risk it poses to the companies reputation I applaud them for giving this a go. I'm almost certain they will fail miserably but its better than just churning out volume after volume of essentially the same thing (*cough* call of duty).

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  8. I'll wait until the PC version comes out. I play EVE, I'm patient... ;)

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  9. "splatus said...
    Yes, using EVE players to test Dust seems weird at first glance as you described. EVE players are long-attention-span, PC-savvy, sound-averse, detail-oriented spreadsheet jocks. Console players are -well, the opposite. "

    There is already an eager market from ex-MAG (PS3 exclusive persistent FPS) waiting for this game. A hardcore, tactical, clan/faction orientated FPS.

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