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, August 18, 2011

Getting under "EVE is real"

There's a couple of new interviews out with Daniel Block, who is CCP's "Senior Director of Customer Acquisition"... a fancy way of saying he's a CCP marketing guy.  His LinkedIn profile is kind of interesting.  His degree is actually in Radiology; he's been working at CCP for just under two years, and has four years of marketing experience prior to that.  This is not necessarily unusual in today's job market.  One of the best employees I ever hired was a Ph.D. in Astronomy (hint: I do not work in an industry associated with Astronomy).  I often hire people with weird backgrounds like this; I find they have an easier time thinking outside of the box.

Both interviews focus on the "EVE is Real" campaign, but come at it from different directions.

The first interview is at thealistdaily.com, which is a site focused on marketing stories for video game developers.  It's not the sort of site that the typical EVE player is likely to see.

This interview focuses on asking Block questions about what in this campaign he's felt is working (tapping into EVE player's enthusiasm about the game) and not working (voting, prizes).  And you have to appreciate a CCP guy that has a sense of humor about his own company.  He directly references the brilliant "The Door" parody as one his favorite submitted videos.  So few CCP employees seem to have this sense of humor that when you encounter someone that does, it's pretty refreshing.

However, late in the interview, a question comes up regarding micro-transactions, and Block's response is revealing:
Daniel Block: It's a bit tough as we've always got a vocal minority and a silent majority. A good sized group of the most vocal understandably made a huge deal out of "pay to win" after we failed to clearly present the virtual items and how we plan to evolve them. In order to reach out to them we needed to clarify things and need to continue to do so through good old-fashioned communication. While the silent majority has been using the NeX store at a good clip, we still need to make sure that our players know that sexy chic future spaceship pants aren't going to lead to ammunition or uber ships in the virtual store. We launched our NeX store with a small number of pure vanity items, we're going to launch a ship re-skinning service the same way soon (think paint jobs). More simple services will follow. We'd bring more out faster, but there is only a small team working on this project.
Ever since then-U.S. President Nixon invoked them to support the Vietnam War in 1969, the "Silent Majority Defense" has been a staple of unpopular politicians.  A large group of vocal protesters may hate me, this argument goes, but the silent majority approve my actions.  More often than not, this silent majority proves ficticious, and it is the "vocal minority" that proves the larger group.  I've learned to be quite skeptical when this defense is trotted out to justify a course of action.

Still, it's interesting that he says that "only a small team" is working on the NeX, when there's pretty good evidence to show that the NeX is taking up a good bit of CCP's resources, and is therefore driving resource decisions across the company's EVE development plans.

The second interview is at stratics.com, a clearinghouse for MMO news and developments.  The background for their EVE section is horrid, so you'll have to suffer through it if you want to read the interview.

A couple of highlights jump out at me from this one:
  • The very same internal web team that brought you the new forums is redoing the main EVE website for later this year.
  • eveisreal.net was actually produced by an external company, not in house.
  • eveisreal.net was intended to be interesting for new players, not existing players.
The really interesting thing about this interview is where it starts from.  Ever since Fanfest in March, CCP has been more and more open about the fact that they have had a hard time figuring out how to "package" EVE.  As Block puts it in this interview, "EVE is really big, super big. It’s hard to give an 'elevator pitch' about EVE, a 20 second pitch."  In the industry I do work in, elevator pitches are very big.  If you can't sell your idea in 20 or 25 seconds, your idea will not be sold.  People in my business are encouraged to cultivate and develop elevator pitches for the projects that they're working on or want to work on at any given moment so they can sell them if a chance meeting with someone who can help happens in a hallway or elevator.

The attempt to compress EVE to an elevator pitch was what led to the creation of eveisreal.net: apparently, they're kind of hoping that one of us can produce their elevator pitch for them.  ;-)

Thus, the strong focus of eveisreal on bringing in new players, not rewarding the existing ones.  eveisreal was also developed on a very short timeline.  Both this and the focus on bringing in new players explain the use of Flash (which is very quick to develop in) and therefore, why the site doesn't work in the EVE in-game browser.

On the other topic, while I agree that the EVE Online main website needs a revamp (Block correctly notes that it is functionally unchanged for the last eight years), I'm not sure EVE's web team are the right personnel to do it...

Stay tuned.


  1. We just had the background changed.. which one was the one you saw? The yellow one or our new darker, red one?

  2. Darker red one, with the EVE: Incursion white text underneath.


    Read it on my work computer, which has an older version of the Firefox browser installed.

  3. Ah, yeah I see what you are talking about. We'll get that fixed soon.

  4. The EVE is Real site is so badly designed I thought it was done by CCP.

    Where do CCP Block's lies or self-deception end? Small team? NeX being used at a fair clip? silent majority? vanity only?

    My Elevator Pitch for EVE online: It's a science fiction virtual world where you not only get to break the rules about civility, but you are expected to do so in order to get ahead. In a world where capitalism has gone mad, piracy is a noble career choice for aspiring capsuleers. Oh, and you're immortal, but the cost of failure is the most severe in any MMO.


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