In the business community, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the important metrics that you use to measure how well your business is doing if your piece of the business is not directly financial in nature. Let's say we're building iPhones for Apple to sell. In manufacturing, three important KPIs are the availability, performance, and quality of your manufacturing lines. The first measures how many hours per day your manufacturing line can run. The second measures how many iPhones your manufacturing line can produce when it is running. The third measures what percentage of those iPhones meet quality standards once their manufacturing is complete. Simple enough so far?
KPIs are important, because they make it easy to see the "levers" that can be used to improve your business. If you can manufacture 5000 quality iPhones per day, it's easy to see where you can make changes to make that 6000 per day. You can increase availability (unless it's already at 24 hours/day), or you can increase quality (unless it's already at 100%), or you can increase performance.
Or you can open a second factory.
Once your metrics are in place, changing the underlying assumptions underneath them can make it a lot harder to compare historical data. If you open a second factory, do you combine the metrics from your second factory with your first? This will create a large change in the data that you will have to explain every time you show your metrics. Or do you measure separately? And if you do that, what happens if one factory (because it is newer, say) has significantly higher performance than the other? How do you explain the difference month after month?
Things really get tricky if the data start showing things that you don't want to share. To get to 6000 iPhones manufactured per day, suppose you greatly upgrade your factory's performance at the cost of its quality. You're producing more sale-ready iPhones, but you're also producing many more defective iPhones that will need rework before they can be shipped. That's data you might not want to share with Apple. So one month, you might not publish your quality data. You publish and highlight your performance data instead, showing the large increase in output, explain the historical difference, and keep the quality data to yourself.
And hopefully, Apple doesn't ask. And if they don't, it's easier to keep that quality data to yourself next month, too.
Which brings us to today's EVE Online devblog.
Dr EyjoG, CCP's economist in charge of EVE, has traditionally published Quarterly Economic Newsletters about 45 days after the end of the quarter. I've spoken of them in this blog many times, and the 4Q 2010 was great fodder for two or three blog posts looking at different aspects of the EVE economy. I've been waiting impatiently for the 1Q 2011 QEN, because I thought it would contain excellent baseline data to compare to the 2Q QEN. That was important because the biggest economic change to EVE Online since Dominion was made the first week in April, with the sanctum/haven nerf. That presumably hugely reduced the amount of ISK moving in the game and I was really looking forward to seeing the numbers.
Only, it looks like we're not going to get QENs in the future.
The devblog itself is a complete waste of your time... a little piece of nothing-fluff comparing the four established EVE price indices. Each index supposedly measures a different aspect of the EVE consumer economy, but as I've written before, the quarterly slices make this data practically useless. It doesn't help that EVE's Consumer Price Index contains more than 4000 items which range from ships to POSs to ammo to PLEXes: in short, items from durable goods to consumables and back. It's worthless as an economic indicator. The graph that accompanies the devblog confirms it showing (as it does) the CPI being completely flat for the last four years.
Despite massive changes to EVE's consumer goods in that time, the CPI graph is flat because there are so many items in the CPI, that big changes to one item are damped down by stagnation in other items. It's one of the reasons that I wish EVE had a "durable goods index" containing items that are rarely destroyed like Hulks and capital ships. Taking these items out of the CPI would reduce this stagnating factor.
So, as I said, the devblog is practically worthless. An EVE player was quick to ask: "is this blog a replacement for the QEN?" Dr EyjoG was good enough to answer, and his answer isn't comforting:
We will change the format of the QEN but this devblog and the data that comes along with it is an addition to other economic information available to the players. This is a part of a larger plan to give more data directly to players so that they can do their own analysis. And yes, this will continue in the future.In other words: "yes", this useless crap is replacing the QENs, with some other "annual report" data and "more data directly to the players" being discussed for the future. In short, I think we can safely assume that the Q1 QEN metrics showed some data that CCP is not in a hurry to share.
We have not published QENs for 2010 (sic) and will most likely not publish them in the previous format but rather moving the Economic Newsletters to more of an annual report. The frequency of the publication is though still being discussed.