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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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Which "EVE" would that be, exactly?

I had the opportunity over this past weekend to spend some time with my niece, who is 11.  She has an iPad.  No, actually, she's kind of interconnected with an iPad.  ;-)

She's seen me doing things in EVE from time to time, and this past Christmas, she asked if she could "play that space game."  This involved me putting her into a destroyer and finding a few nice full level 1 missions.  She gets a kick out of "warp drive active" and out of pressing F1 and watching the explosions.  But she's never going to be a Skye Aurorae.

But give her an iPad with Minecraft on it and she's remarkably good at it.  You guys want to talk about console kiddies?  Maybe we should be talking about tablet kiddies.

This becomes relevant because as I'm sure you've heard by now, CCP Unifex, Executive Producer of EVE Online, is going to be taking a new position heading up CCP's mobile strategy.  And interestingly, right in the announcement, Hilmar says that CCP is going to be looking outside the company to back-fill him.  Here's the job listing if you want to apply for it.

This of course raises an interesting question: what is CCP's mobile strategy?  Does CCP have a mobile strategy?  Here's what Unifex had to say about this topic back in December during the CSM summit:
Unifex: If I had it my way, I'd take Planetary Interaction out of EVE, the game, and put it on that [gesturing at Seleene's iPad] as a fully-fledged game in the EVE Universe. If I want to land on a planet and pull out a gun and shoot someone, I have to ask, does it make sense for me to do that in EVE Online the game? Or in the EVE Universe but through a different interface point?
UAxDEATH: So it’s all doable?
Unifex: It's all doable. Take planetary flight, for example. That will be available when Dust launches, because you'll be able to cruise around in dropships over planets. CCP is growing up to the point where we no longer have to put every single thing in the EVE universe into EVE Online if it doesn’t make sense. Some of these things should really just be different games. We shouldn't be trying to put all games into EVE Online. We could be trying to put more games into the EVE universe, however.
At the time I read this, I wrote in my notes: "Unifex's duties are focused around EVE, but which 'EVE' would that be, exactly?"  I never got around to blogging about it until now.  But it's still a relevant question.

Which "EVE" would that be, exactly?

Let's get one thing out of the way right now.  This move shows that ambition is returning to Reykjavík.  You don't put one of your most senior people in charge of your "mobile strategy" unless you have a pretty good idea of what that mobile strategy is going to revolve around.  And sure, we might see some ship fitting tools, we might see a nice EVE mail mobile app (what I wouldn't give for one of those), and we're definitely going to see some DUST 514 mobile apps.  Know what all of those things don't have in common... probably?

You can't make a lot of money with them.

You also don't put one of your most senior people in charge of your "mobile strategy" unless there is some plan in the works to make some money off your mobile strategy.  So I expect everyone involved in this move is being a little bit coy, and we're going to see some very interesting announcements on this front in a week or so.  I'll have my tablet with me.

There was another Twitch TV broadcast today with CCP Guard, CCP Unifex, CCP Seagull, CCP t0rfifrans, and CCP Ripley.  CCP Guard and the others pushed the Fanfest stream more times than I could count.  And it's becoming increasingly clear that CCP is saving lots and lots of announcements for the big show.  It's amazing how little can be said in a one hour broadcast, but Unifex did have this to say about the transition:
And then obviously May 6th is the tenth birthday of EVE Online.  And then, at that point, we're going... we've got a big transition planned for how we actually make sure that everything continues very smoothly.  We've got the people in place now... which is great.  So I don't see any problems on that side of it.
"We've got the people in place now," do we?  Quote of the week, right there.  Unifex also slipped a bit and mentioned "new faces" in some positions, then corrected himself and changed it to "familiar faces."  Kind of begs the question of what that job listing is about, then...  ;-)

There was also some chit-chat -- mostly focused on CCP Seagull -- about the role that the CSM performs but Mat Westhorpe did a good job of covering that in a piece he wrote today.  The rest of the video?  Quite honestly, kind of frustrating.  There are some hints here and there.  For instance, I'm almost positive from torfi's comments that one of the announcements next week will be the triumphant return of the EVE Store which has been shut down since last October.  And about several big questions, all Seagull had to say was "buy the Fanfest stream."

In the meantime, in a month or so, this leaves Unifex out there managing the mobile strategy.  I'm not sure how much money there is to be made from a PI tablet game, or a ship fitter, or an EVE mail app.  And I'm definitely not sure how much money there is to be made from my niece from this sort of thing.  But when it comes to mobile, casual gamers is where the money is.  Unless CCP wants to charge us money for things we can already do in EVE Online, this mobile strategy is likely going to have to revolve around a new audience for CCP's products... and what those products are is likely to evolve as well.  Know what else CCP is looking for?  A Producer to lead their Monetization team.

As I said before, ambition is returning to Reykjavík.  It's a good thing that Seagull has a lot of confidence in the CSM stake-holder process, because whomever is on the CSM is going to have to remind everyone involved not to forget about their spaceship game.  Which "EVE" would that be, exactly?  ;-)

27 comments:

  1. Thousands of systems with a lot of planets waiting for stuff to make on? I bet there is good money to make.
    Placing a futuristic sim city like planet developer for a small fee would lure a lot of people into the game. Pay 2 play, monthly fee or another micro transaction version? Much is possible and with the right interaction with other parts of the eve universe many of this new players from other genres could be pulled in the eve community.

    A planet side racing game, illegal activity of cause, taking place in the outer regions of space where other players of the universe can place bets on.

    The eve universe is big and it is nice to see such ambitions rising in Reykjavik. Sure the focus on Eve Online should not get lost in the process. We will see what the next 10, 20 and 30 years of eve will bring.

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  2. I see where you are going with this.

    Since I've missed most of the broadcast (logged in for the last 10 minutes) I cannot say anything about it for certain.

    But let us look at this from a different perspective:

    Right before the, I mean THE anniversary for the game the lead, the ExPr _leaves_ the ship to sail on different seas. In my book that means that he is probably side cast - or asked himself to be sided - because he is probably not OK with what the next announcements/expansions will be and doesn't want his name printed on it.

    I mean: what is the main credo in any business? "Never change a winning team". CCP just allowed for that to happen: Unifex was at the top of the team for the last couple of expansions, managed to put eve back to track, increased subscriber counts and _now_ swivelled to another department.

    He did a good job, it is not that he is being punished or something, but this is not a promotion either for a job (damn well) done, so what then?

    This sound fishy to me. But it may be I am too old to see brightly. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If that's true, though, why not leave CCP entirely? Why allow yourself to be spun off to an area that might make little difference?

      Retribution has been a remarkable success in *business* terms, which is often all the industry cares about. If what you say were true, Unifex could leave in glory and likely have a choice of very nice jobs in other companies to move on to. He wouldn't have to be put out to pasture.

      Finally, what you say is hard to fathom from a CCP development schedule sense. CCP finished the decisions regarding what was going to be in Odyssey in February if what I'm hearing is true, and won't be finalizing decisions about the winter expansion until the first week of June. Therefore, the timing of what you say is also really off.

      Delete
    2. The alternative is that the mobile strategy, and the announcement of the first massively parallel series of games connected to the same massively parallel universe, *is* the next decade of EVE, and Lander's reassignment is the harbinger.

      The decision point, as I guessed below, is the realization that the current EVE client really is best suited to doing what it currently does, and instead of trying to make it (and CARBON) do everything, the future is multiple games all connected via CREST. Seen that way it's no accident that, before her current assignment, CCP Seagull worked on CREST.

      Another data point: WoD forked CARBON to better adapt it to the needs of avatar gameplay. That means that the current EVE client will stick with ships and an engine that is optimized for EVE's signature fleet battles, and CCP will have another, similar engine, optimized for open-world avatar gameplay, complete with vampires/cattle (compare to empyreans/mortals).

      This could be very exciting.

      Delete
    3. TBH when after first reding last Saturday f the DEV blog I got he impression this is a demotion... consequtially I've had mixed feelings since but am hopefull that with Unifex doing something else maybe there will be more resources put into content not just relying on emergent gameplay that Unifex espoused. I haven't seen much emergent gameplay the past 6 months just the building of the blue doughnut ( beyond the Battle of ASK the only emergent gameplay has been rumors of Thunderdome & rumors of a new Burn Jita... the Battle of Caldari Prime was success and hope to see more content like it )

      Delete
  3. There are many Eve's and always have been.
    Some more cared for by the sandbox owner then others.

    Let’s see what fanfest brings.
    Big PVE improvments! I can dream.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're whiteknighting them so much already it's not even funny. You don't put one of your most senior people in charge of "mobile strategy" unless.... unless he's being put out to pasture.

    CCP's "mobile strategy" makes zero sense given their track record of glacial progress in development. And "come to fanfest"? LOL that twitch broadcast was laughable in how transparent it was. I mean, I didn't go to fanfest last year either, but I did watch most of the recorded sessions after the fact. Know what I saw? A whole bunch of bullshit that was never delivered. From "more intense" wardecs to FW that turned out horribly broken to part-time Dr. Eyjno's game economics balderdash.

    All 3 twitch broadcasts thus far have been awful. Simply awful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See above about my comments about putting Unifex to pasture. It just doesn't make sense.

      That said, what you say about CCP's development speed in re: the tablet market is absolutely true. It'll be one of the very first things I ask Unifex when and if I meet him next week: "CAN CCP compete in this lightning fast market?"

      Delete
    2. Naw, Unifex is leading his own personal crusade. Oddly I trust him to bring the rain. He's proven himself in-house - which can't have been easy and to me as an individual which is even harder.
      I am still nervous about his successor unfortunately.

      Delete
  5. Check out an iOS (possibly Android too) app, called "Neocom".

    It's free and lets you read (no sending) EVEMail, do ship fits (better than in EVEFit or Pyfa, IMO), and TON more.

    Grab it from the App store or from:

    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/neocom/id418895101?mt=8


    Really is an awesome app.

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    Replies
    1. I endorse and actively use this product. My EFT has been gathering dust since I installed it, and the market tool is surprisingly useful. If only it had a map...

      Delete
  6. It does completely recontextualize all the comments about "EVE is focused on flying ships in space," doesn't it? Which EVE? The current client, not the whole game. The mad gleam is still in their eyes, they're just no longer trying to stuff their entire sci-fi simulator into one game in one client.

    Probably a smart move, especially given the tremendous profusion of phones and tablets that are full-fledged computers. I will be very interested to see what they do.

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  7. Honestly, if you could manage your PI, trading, manufacturing, contracting, etc from a mobile device, that would free up a lot of time for flying space ships when you are actually in front of your computer.

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  8. I have to disagree very strongly with you here. There is MOUNDS of money to be made with EVE Mobile. About 2 years ago I wrote a 30 page email to Helmar, fishing for a chance to work for them with an entire mobile strategy.

    They add mobile ship fittings, email, chat and rich transaction / wallet history and they don't charge you ANYTHING for it.

    But they do add $1 - $2 to the cost of your subscription to add the "Mobile Enabled" flag to your account. Accounts powered via PLEX would count as mobile enabled.

    Conservative adoption scenario :
    500,000 accounts
    10% uptake rate
    $1 per month
    Total : $600,000 annualized

    Widespread adoption scenario :
    500,000
    20% uptake rate
    $1 per month
    Total : $1,200,000 annualized.

    Given that CCP is a $60m-$70m per year company, adding $1.2m to the top and probably $500k to the bottom line is pretty great.

    Thats just pages 1-10!

    EVE Online has a very bright mobile future. There are many aspects of this game that can be enhanced with mobile tech and I strongly believe the key to the strategy is having a "mobile enabled" flag and increasing the subscription revenue and player dedication through that.

    Mobile accounts could be able to man POS guns remotely. People could manage build and buy orders via a tablet app.

    I think there's a lot of money here.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone has to develop the actual apps. Those someones will want money for their work.

      Delete
  9. Eve is crying out for a built in game, like planetary Civilization, that you can do when bored in Eve. And almost everyone spends a lot of their time being bored in Eve. If it was designed and integrated well (unlike PI, which is neither) then you could play it whilst waiting at a titan, camping a gate, piloting a freighter, mining, even running another tedious mission and still be able to do that main task. Entertainment in my Eve, say it ain't so!

    Well, looks like it ain't going to be so if they segment new entertainment off onto new platforms like with Dust 514. If CCP thinks I'm going to pay them for a new Eve game to play when I'm too bored in their existing Eve game I think that they are pretty fucking optimistic.

    Christ though, I hope that we're not returning to the days of CCP trying to run Eve, create DUST 514 on a new platform, create WoD, create Incarna (essentially a new game) and create PI (essentially a new game). Incarna and PI were shit, WoD was back burnered, Eve threatened to burn and Dust 514... well I don't have a console so no mean comments without experience other than that I don't think I got much out of my subscription dollars for that development time.

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  10. "As I said before, ambition is returning to Reykjavík."

    It is not about ambition. It is about outside investment.

    DUST is no longer expected to provide the numbers to attract new investment. Although DUST still isn't 100%, it is going live with the hope that it can simply breakeven, with regards to monthly operating costs - there is very little chance of recovering any development costs nor attracting additional investment for DUST, in of itself.

    With the failure of DUST and inability of EVE Online to enlarge its sub base, CCP's projected financial situation is not so good. The search is on for new investors, to carry CCP through for the next couple of years.

    Mobile is the current bandwagon, so CCP is making the logical jump, based on recommendations from business consultants. Other devs will soon be joining Unifex on the mobile team; DUST and EVE will be kept in a maintenance mode for the foreseeable future, with such fixes/updates that can be managed with a minimal use of resources (ie. don't expect any major new features or revamps).

    Cross your fingers and hope they can reel in another deep-pocket fish. Without it, we're looking at another RIF this year.

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    1. DUST is a failure? Despite having another company pay for the development costs and it already being monetized while still in beta?

      Delete
    2. "Cross your fingers and hope they can reel in another deep-pocket fish. Without it, we're looking at another RIF this year."

      Well, I think that the CSM should really focus on getting *all* of us active players united in bringing new players into the game.

      Regardless of hating everyone else's play style, we all want to see CCP do well, in order to keep the game alive and expanding. They can't do that without money. If each active player were to bring on just one new player, the sub base would see significant growth - perhaps even enough to attract more investors to invest in the future of the game, too.

      Delete
  11. I found this in the latest CCP newsletter:

    "Gadgets for gaming, gadgets for work, gadgets for getting in touch. We all have these toys and devices, often with one we deem almost indispensable. We're interested in your habits with gadgets, so this month's survey is about all the electronic contraptions that surround our work and play.

    » Take the April survey"

    It doesn't take a detective to see where this is going.

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    Replies
    1. Saw that, took it, was absolutely *stunned* that it didn't include questions about what kinds of games I play on my tablet or what kinds of productivity apps I use. It's just crazy that such questions weren't included. Why bother even having such a survey if you're not going to ask that?

      Delete
    2. @Jester - because it isn't necessary to ask those questions.

      Unifex is already looking at apps which will be explored for development, which will be the ones which attract investors and a new, larger casual player base - and not ones to sell to a few thousand current players. You expect a POS management tool or something?

      Do you really think that Unifex is changing jobs, just to develop $1 mini-games and productivity apps for the current EVE player base? That would be a job for a very junior producer - maybe someone like Soundwave. lol....

      Delete
    3. "Do you really think that Unifex is changing jobs, just to develop $1 mini-games and productivity apps for the current EVE player base?"

      Yeah, I don't rate this as likely, either.

      Mobile mini-games and apps would be a big step down, from developing the flagship product to working on accessories.

      And, a straight client port doesn't make much sense either. You'd pick a tech manager to lead up that sort of effort.

      For Unifex to take a new job, it has to be something much bigger.

      Delete
  12. "DUST is a failure?"

    Absolutely. DUST is both past due and over budget. The DUST investment money is long spent and no more is coming.

    And, even the most conservative original revenue estimates assumed at least 500K paying players by 2013. Is there anyone who believes they will ever get these numbers now?

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  13. Jester, I just got the EVE newsletter in there there is a survey, you should take it too...

    Has some amount of questions regarding the mobile platform so you may be onto something. :-)

    ReplyDelete

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