An invested player expects the game to have fair outcomes more than fair actions. They feel that they had to put a lot of work, time and money into the game, and so should everybody else. Invested players get angry if they feel that all of their hard work is for nothing. They hate the sense that other players are cheating, or that a game is cheating on their behalf, because the game and its world means something to the invested player. They don't want that meaning to feel futile.It's from a terrific post from the What Games Are blog posted on Twitter by @CrazyKinux last week. Go out and read the whole piece. It's definitely worth your time. In particular, the discussion of fair actions versus fair outcomes is going to be critical in EVE over the next eighteen months or so. I've touched on it in a couple of posts regarding EVE's learning cliff vis-à-vis the new PvEer or PvPer, but this issue is even broader than that.
Invested players are not only the core of EVE Online subscribers, they are also one of the chief causes of unsubs. I'd be willing to bet, for instance, that the number of EVE ragequits due to someone who has tens of millions of SP exploiting the inexperience of someone who doesn't exceeds the current size of the EVE subscriber base. Probably by a factor of three or four.
Even more than that, though: in my experience, the more invested an EVE player is, the more he or she wants the game to remain a niche product outside of the mainstream MMO market. "I'm right because I've been playing EVE since beta, and you haven't" is usually the message here, often with the corollary that anyone who doesn't meet that criteria is somehow less worthy. As the quote above says, they take a stubborn pride in having defeated the learning cliff, and expect everyone else to be forced to endure and defeat it, too.
But if Incarna does succeed to or beyond the expectations of CCP... if it really does start to change the paradigm from "Internet spaceships"... if it does start battering down the learning cliff... there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of new EVE players. And those new EVE players will likely want fair actions, not fair outcomes.
Except that's not what EVE is about... not what it's ever been about.
It will be interesting to see how that conflict is resolved.
Postscript: Literally 45 seconds after I hit "Publish Post" on this entry, I went over to FHC to read the latest reactions there to today's forum devblog and encountered this post:
Corporate CCP would be steadily moving EVE away from the cruel, uncaring universe paradigm in order to promote it to a wider audience. Paying to opt out of a war, the removal of suicide ganking, a boost to high-sec and low-sec insurance payouts would be in the next expansion.