Every company dreams of "changing the paradigm" and making an order of magnitude jump in their customer base. In 1981-82, 300,000 CP/M computers suddenly became three million IBM PCs. In the early 90s, 10 million DOS computers became 100 million Windows 3.1 computers. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that somewhere in CCP, someone is dreaming of 300k EVE players suddenly morphing into three million DUST 514 players.If you haven't read it before, please go out and read the entire post, then (if you feel like it) read the follow-up I wrote the next day. When I wrote it in March, "18 months" was an estimate based on the MMO Data numbers, which were estimates of paid accounts. Anyone who's followed my blog for more than a month knows the number of average logged-in players describes an even more dire situation: 30 months of stagnation, not 18.
That thinking has almost certainly infected the Incarna team as well.
Remember: CCP is a business. Take a look at the hard numbers. The dark purple triangles are the EVE subscription database. Ignore the other lines for a minute. In January 2007, EVE passed 150,000 subscribers. By April 2009, it passed 300,000. In order to maintain the growth curve that EVE has enjoyed since 2003 and the growth curve to support their hiring practices over the last two years, the game should have passed 450,000 subscribers in October 2010. Not only did that not happen, growth has completely stagnated for the last eighteen months. Some have commented that the EVE graph is beginning to look alarmingly like the Ultima Online and Everquest graphs. Just today, Casiella Truza, a respected EVE blogger, compared the EVE graph to the Star Wars Galaxies graph and said Incarna could break EVE entirely.
Can anyone share with me what CCP could have done with the in-space game to bring in those 150,000 subscribers they needed? Because right now, CCP is highly motivated to change the paradigm: they've got 18 months of stagnant subscription numbers urging them on.
I'm sure that the Incarna team not only believes they can change the paradigm, they believe they have a license to ignore current player concerns as irrelevant, since I suspect they believe Incarna users will soon massively outnumber the current player base.
What CCP is obviously doing to address this issue is a message that isn't getting through. Some of the other EVE blogs don't get it. The CSM doesn't get it. Failheap certainly doesn't get it. I'm going to have a lot to say about this topic in the next few days.