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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Status quo ante

"Status quo ante bellum" is an expression in Latin meaning "the state things were in before the war."  It's one of those phrases that gets inserted into a treaty to end a war if the victor is feeling magnanimous... or if the overall outcome of the war was in doubt.  Two commonly-known examples are the U.S. Civil War and what those of us in the U.S. call the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain.  In both cases, the treaties that ended these wars allowed both sides to retain the territory that they held before the war began.

I can't help thinking about this phrase when I look at the following chart:

Yeah, I haven't brought it up since February, but Snapcount is still off doing its thing.  And the data shows pretty much what you would probably expect it to show: Crucible has been a great success.  Overall, I think it's going to show something between a 10% and a 15% increase in the average count of people that play EVE Online.  That would make it the most successful expansion in terms of increasing the player base since Quantum Rise all the way back in 2008!  That's nothing but good news!

Still, there's something to worry about.  For about 30 months, from February 2009 to August 2011, the active number of players didn't move more than a few percent away from 30,000:

Dear Heaven, did I catch a lot of flak for this chart when I (somewhat mockingly) first published it.  But at the time, I called it the biggest potential problem in EVE's future.  The game had stagnated to a stationary number of players and without growth, EVE's long-term future was in doubt.  How long could CCP cater to the same 30,000 logged-in accounts?  And if something happened to tick off those 30,000 playing accounts, CCP would be in REAL trouble.

And that's exactly what happened last summer.

After the Jita riots last July, the 90-day rolling average of EVE logged-in accounts dropped rapidly from 30,000 to 27,000.  And then it stabilized there with CCP's announcements of all the new flying-in-space features for Crucible.

The good news is that Crucible has repaired all of last summer's losses.  We're back to a 90-day rolling average of 30,000 people logged into EVE.  The bad news is that Crucible hasn't done a thing to break the deadlock we were in before the summer of rage.  We're right back to where we started in August 2011, and in February 2009 before that.  After climbing rapidly from 27,000 back to 30,000 from January to March, some spikes and dips aside, we're right back to 30,000 people.

In late March, people stopped logging into EVE to go to Fanfest... then came back super-excited to play EVE for a while for a couple of weeks.  Since then, we're back to being flat.  Not even Burn Jita made that much of an impact.  That Thursday and Friday were busier than Thursday and Friday typically are, but that's about it.

This chart goes through May 1.  The two weeks since, that green line has been slowly sliding down.  30700.  30650.  30600.

Status quo ante.

If only there were some CCP plan to break the deadlock...


  1. For us in the northern hemisphere, spring has begun and the weather is looking up. Yesterday I went mountainbiking in the woods instead of logging on to Eve, for instance. "Winter has gone", so to speak, and I see more people taking something of an eve break after the winter. Do you recognize this in your graphs?

    Also, I hear some rumours that Diablo III might be taking a bite out of Eve's population, for the past few days.

    1. Nah, these are just examples of excuses to attempt to blame any drop in numbers on external events.

      Eve has been up and running long enough to easily see that such periodic events are not the actual cause of any significant drop in numbers. At best, these events add random noise to the signal, which, when filtered out, prove to be insignificant to long term trends.

  2. Tangential, but is the US Civil War really an example of what you're talking about? I mean, I guess /technically/ it's an example, since the Confederacy did not exist before the war (at least not for any meaningful length of time), and after the war returned to not existing - but I'd still call that a result of it having been conquered outright, not because of a mutual agreement to return to prewar borders. (And in fact, the South did not return to its prewar borders, due to the formation of the state of West Virginia.)

  3. Well, you said yourself in an earlier post that this part of the year has always been a slump for activity due in part to students taking finals.

    Imo, a more accurate analysis of eve's long-term future would be to see what impact the inferno expansion has some time after the launch, taking both this slump and the (hopefully) increase in activity from the launch and summer in general into consideration

    1. You're right: I didn't extend the chart into May both because of these factors and because of Diablo 3.

  4. CCP is planning to break the deadlock... downward.

    Inferno is supposedly focused on war and improving non-consensual PVP combat in high sec.

    Hmm. Did CCP even consider that most of its player base specifically chooses to play in high sec, where wars and non-consensual PVP are at the lowest, for a reason?

    Didn't CCP learn anything from last summer's debacle?

    And, that was just the null sec minority going on a rage; the high sec majority is more likely to just silently quit and find another game to play.

    I predict more layoffs.

    1. Somebody give this man a cookie or something.

      And nope they didn´t learn .. much. Still the same old griefer mentality abound, in spades, and not much else.

      Heck, even their supposedly smart econom.Prof rides around on his "scarcity/bottlenecks = OZOM" horse.
      Basically another DEV griefer.

      I had actually high hopes CCP´s initiative to turn back to EVE space, but all it reveals is how out of touch they really are with their main playerbase.

    2. Karbox DelacroixMay 18, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      The hi sec war dec mechanics are shit and they needed to be improved. The ability to leave corp or alliance and end a war dec made the entire thing a joke. If people want to be free of the danger of a war dec, they can stay in the NPC corp.

    3. I completely agree that the solution to Eve's population problem is to focus on high sec and developing areas where traditional PVE players prefer to play and reduce the ability to conduct PVP in empire space.

      The thought that Eve is only for PVP minded individuals and thus all areas of Eve had to support PVP is probably the single biggest factor for three month or less subscribers. Making high sec safe wouldn't reduce PVP in low/null in the long run. Instead it would increase PVP because it would establish boundary lines where PVE players could willing enter a danger area with ships they feel they can lose.

      The feeling of never being safe, of getting suicide ganked on a gate, or having a war dec remove the desire to play are things the majority of PVE players won't tolerate. They want a safe area to play the game in the manner they wish and then a battle area where they can go to fight and return to safety later.

      Eve will never boost subscribers with the current PVP based game. Most gamers want to relax when they play a game, not constantly feel on edge because no matter what they do there is the possibility of getting killed.

      CCP has to decide if it's comfortable with Eve remaining in a niche market or will they be willing to alter the fundamental basis of the game to expand into a larger market share.

      So far it seems they'd rather sail around in a dinghy named 'HTFU' instead of climbing on board the luxury yacht 'SS Carebear'.

  5. 90% of my corp mates didn't show up this week cuz of diablo3

  6. They could always :totallysafehisec: too. *shrug*

    I'm in the middle of a loonnnngggg roam, started in Black Rise, went thru to Fountain, then Outer Ring...barely seen any souls in sight -- even in the station systems! No wonder CCP is figuring out how to attract people to null... :-/
    And that leads me to agree even more with you over "occupancy & use = sov" not "structures = sov". Between activity levels I've seen personally (which is to say, none), and verified on DOTLAN (NPC kills 24h, jumps 24h) -- by the "occupancy & use = sov", half of Cloud Ring and Fountain would be "unclaimed".
    Room for new, small, aggressive alliances to establish themselves in sov space? Oh hells yes.
    Inject new interest into null and the game in general? Probably.

    I think you should flesh out that occupancy = sov idea and present a proposal to the CSM & CCP. :-D

    1. second that.
      Would be a great way to attract new people. and would confirm the sandbox character of eve.

    2. Sounds like a good idea to me. I've done a few roams through null, starting from our own home space, and many systems are barely, if ever, used. So many unused resources!

  7. The flat chart has a lot of potential to be misleading due to the scale. Your Y axis extends to a range three times that of the subscriber base so it flattens it out in what I consider a non-representitive manner.

    You might still be right, but I don't feel like that flat chart is supporting your analysis.

    1. If memory serves, Jester used that chart as a fairly trollish comeback to those disputing his point that the average online population was stagnant, and had been for sometime. He went into much more detail and debate in the original posts.

      Just as my own trollish aside, the chart goes to a third of the oft-quoted subscriber base of 300,000 - this chart looks at the average number of people who actually log in each day

    2. Some curves aren't

    3. My bad. I said 'three times the subscriber base' but I meant three times the average number of logins. I'll go back and look for the original post.

    4. My bad, I meant three times the average log-ins instead of three times the subscriber base.

  8. Jester, this chart and the thinking that goes behind it is (I think) grossly misguided.

    The EVE population is overwhelmingly not a 0.0 population. A wide majority of EVE does not venture to low sec, does not want to venture to low sec and for the most part does not care about low sec.

    If we use the metric of 'logged in players' as a goal we want to increase then logically the way to do this is to target the broadest player base and make changes that appeal to them. Of course Burn Jita would have no possitive impact, the stated goal of that event was the screw that exact demographic.

    CCP already has strong appeal to the hardcore PVP crowd, if for no other reason than that EVE is the only real option. If CCP wants to expand beyond that audience (which it already has) it needs to either create or convert them. Create them by finding players of other games (like LoL) and say 'come play some real pvp' or it needs to convert the empire crowd to PVP'ers.

    Whether we like it or not the vast majority of EVE's players are not like you and me. So doing any sort of player number based metric is going to be skewed to empire dwellers.

    I don't know what the right metric is. Maybe ships destroyed in space, or fights under 50 total participants, or fights where the difference between sides was less than 10. But think of what you want to increase, then pick the metric that best represents it. Choosing active accounts or concurrent log ins is deeply flawed for your purposes.

  9. If they want to really think outside the box then CCP should consider the gap that exists between PVE fits and PVP fits. Make them more alike and I think we'd see some interesting results. As it stands, everyone doing PVE is at a disadvantage to a PVP ship warping in on them intending violence. Give every ship in the game a built-in warp scrambler that doesn't require a fitting slot and see what happens. If not that exactly, then something else that would level the playing field. I know many carebears who can and will fight if they've got a chance, but throwing yourself into the teeth of a meat grinder with no chance to win, aka in a PVE fit ship, doesn't seem to be a very popular choice. Minimize the differences between PVE and PVP fits and watch the subscriber base grow.

    Let's face it, the wardec changes coming with Inferno are pretty minor, especially when you consider that the new Crimewatch mechanics are not going live along with it. Neutral remote repping will still rule the day and that, more than anything else IMO, prevents any "meaningful" wars in highsec.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.