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...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Comment of the Week: Content

There's been a really good discussion around my micro-transaction posts from last week.  Go out and read the comment threads on them if you haven't already.  Still, I liked this comment the best, from Jokus:
"If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer. You're the product being sold."

By this logic, a lot of veteran players are not customers anymore, but content. Quite a lot of older players have ways to make more money than is needed to fuel their game time by market-bought plexes.

And so they provide two things to the real paying customer: ISK to buy their plexes. Content, since those players are pretty often higher-ups in alliances and corps, provide content and so on.

Let's take a look at some outstanding examples who probably don't pay for their game time, cause they are filthy rich in game terms:
Chribba - provides stuff like EVE files, EVE agents, his 3rd party service etc.
Somerset - Blink anyone?!?
The Mittani - Douchebag? Yes! Provider of content? YES!
Short answer: yes, I completely agree with you.

Somewhat longer answer: here's something to think about.  Is it possible that the long-term bitter-vets are one of the major factors holding EVE up?  The barrier to entry for organization leadership in this game is now pretty freakin' high.  There haven't been a lot of new major players in the last year.  Hell, it's arguable that the only major new movers and shakers the game has added in the last year have been the team that built the public incursion channels.  The long-term bitter-vets are running alliances, are  the FCs, and are driving the major in-game actions.  For the most part, we're seeing the same names over and over again.

It's hard for new players to break in.  Just in terms of being a good FC, the number of things you have to think about is enormous.

As I said, it's something interesting to think about.  What do you think?  Anyone want to nominate a major in-game mover-and-shaker that hasn't been playing for a half decade or more?  Discuss.

Thanks for your comment, Jokus, and thank you to everyone who commented on that series of posts!  More than 80 comments total!  Whew!  You guys gave me a lot of reading, and a lot to think about.


  1. Most people don't want to be FC, they want to be fleet members, and want kills with no more effort than pressing F1,F2,F3. For them, FC bittervets are clearly content providers.

    However if we consider the above true, am I a content provider to the game? (as I haven't paid a single cent to CCP since month 2)

    1. ... says the person who's never flown in a PvP fleet.

      As to your question, you're definitely part of the content being sold by CCP - you're a cog in the player-run economy that is one of the game's selling points and you provide ISK for players who buy PLEX from CCP. Are you a content provider though? I would have to say no; you trade and you chat about trading and you blog about trading and about the game as a whole, but that's it. You don't create new content for the rest of the game beyond simply being another player to interact with, and in that sense we're all content providers.

      If you want to change that, I know plenty of people on your own blog have suggested other goals besides simply being a cog in a nullsec alliance that would definitely make you a content provider.

    2. and that is why we play eve. because WOW was so dumbed down that anyone could do it...the only 'content' players provided was "population" (albeit spread over multiple servers)

      And that's the thing about eve: It's one server where a lowly n00b in a rifter can contribute tackle and feel useful among a plethora of players across the world in one single universe. A point is a point by any other name and the n00b is probably happy to pay for that month if he's doing that or any number of activities.

      As for stuff he can't do right away? yay! Incursions aren't n00b friendly, wormholes clearly aren't, null sec carebearing forget it...then there's the high end industry that funnels into Jita where you gots to have isk to make isk. That's treating veterans as customers by pandering to the elite while providing the n00b with "one day this can be yours too" promises.

      As for the Fleet Commanders...well, seriously? The best have wit, humor, ability to keep fleets entertained with anecdotes, battlecom discipline, encyclopedic knowledge of ship fittings and types needed for the "rock paper scissors" of combat (high sec, low sec and null), and the ability to remain calm under the strain of combat and a really good situational awareness (and the ability to properly assign scouting roles), not to mention a nose for where to find good fights...the list goes on and on.
      Sure it takes a while to amass such knowledge but just look around you and you'll see decent FCs in this game that have played less than you have - to me i see FCs as people with ambition. If i was to name one thing that defines FCs it's that: ambition.

      So yeah, ambitious players are customers since EVE clearly has mechanics to allow them free reign like the intro video blathers on about. But, know this: CCP knows full well that FCs are the type not to be broke and since they play the game for free (and are content) therefore it's something to describe as a product to new customers.

      That's the theory anyways...i wonder if i can find an example...oh wait, it's "i was there"

  2. I want to present a content providing activity which does NOT make you rich let alone allows you to play for free as a compensation for being content of the game : sub-warp racing. :)

    I won't advertise it more than that. But the interested pilot (or donor) is welcome to EVE-search for the forum post and evelopedia entries.

    Ché Biko is probably the most infamous mover and shaker there, having completed more races and thus delivered more content to the game than any other registered speed pilot. ;)

  3. We've known for some time that we're the product. I started Eve about 3 years ago after being drawn in by stories of players. A large majority of people who try Eve are drawn in at least partly by the context of complex player interactions.

    But can't we be both consumer and product? There's no doubt in some ways that veterans who buy game time with isk count as customers. We can still contact Customer Services with complaints and issues. Our feedback is evaluated by designers and the CSM on parity with actual paying customers. To other players there's no visible cue as to who is paying and who isn't and unlike gold ammo games like World of Tanks there isn't an equipment disparity between people paying and people not paying.

    Generally I don't pay real money for Eve now. However I still feel I'm a customer. I also feel that the players who do pay money are also both customers and content.

    1. The word you're searching for is 'participant'.

  4. Excuse me if this is fairly offtopic, but the barrier of entry thing ringed a bell.

    I started playing this march, then recently joined a nullsec alliance. I mean I joined the training corp of the alliance where I was presented a must-have-for-nullsec skill list. These were fairly basic fitting, starship command and pvp skills. Combined training time for me: 120 days! That's 4 months even without including my personal preferences: scanning, covops, ceptors, logistics, blockade runner and whatever I may want to pick up during my adventures.

    So the point is: the barrier of entry looks filthy high from a new player's perspective. I don't know how is it for new corps aspiring for fame, but I guess it's even filthier.

    ps: making enough to buy PLEX each month is not hard as a new player. I went from 50M to 500M in about 2 weeks when I started haul trading. I don't think I'm content :)

    1. I can remember when the barrier to entry of a large null-sec alliance was 5 million SP. Now it's routinely four or five times that.

      We've been seeing major inflation in the expectation of new players entering null, for sure.

      The only groups that seem to take newbies into null-sec are TEST and Goons.

    2. We (broken toys) try to recruit new players every so often. The problem we usually run into is that we don't have the support system to keep them 'entertained', so they usually wander off and don't really get into the swing of things.

      I think TEST/goons have an advantage here because they are largely recruiting members from their founding external internet forums. This means the players already have a connection.

      As for the FC thing, I'm not sure how it's done in other alliances, but we're very open to new people stepping up and starting to FC. Sure, we're not going to have them running sensitive ops until we know they have a minimum level of competence (which is pretty low for us, haha).

    3. Yes, but it's important to remember that Test and Goons only bring in new members from an existing outside of game community. So for anyone one who comes to Eve not from SA or Redit (and that would be the vast majority of players) there really is no place for them to go in Null-sec.

    4. Not true,only goonwaffe and b0rt recruit from external sources only and while they are core corporations of their alliances they are not only corps in goonsand test.


    5. Quote: "I can remember when the barrier to entry of a large null-sec alliance was 5 million SP. Now it's routinely four or five times that."

      Maybe if you are talking about nc./PL or one of their pets.
      More or less ALL alliances in the cfc will take in a 5mill SP pilot if he is active and willing to learn.
      Sure alot of low SP pilots get rejected, but thats mainly cause they lack some of the fundamentals to have them be a contributor to the corp/alliance.
      Like not being an idiot, have a working mic, the smallest ability to be atleast somewhat selfsufficient.

  5. I think you have definitely hit a nail on the head here. For those of us that leave, come back, leave, then come back again, the names literally have not changed. The alliances have, but not really the names. Any actual change of players has been names disappearing if anything, there is no real way to change yourself in New Eden without destroying years of work if you are a vet, and at that point starting over or quitting are very similar.

    It would be interesting if they allowed a name change function like the neural remap, once every X years.

    That said, with the blob ruling sov mechanics, I don't think we'll see any newer players impact the scene anytime soon. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if the Gate to Earth opened once more, and allowed us new Sovereignty space that in some way made old tactics useless. Then we'd see fresh blood I think.

    In more ways than one.

  6. Almost certainly the case, although I would put forward the notion that new players are also content as well, particularly if they are gankiees or part of the blob, vets are not content unless they have someone to instruct/some pieces to move after all.....

    Yes CCP has indeed struck gold with their formula or come pay for the privilege of being sold. :-) The more you have coming in the more you have going out, sort of an exponential effect too.

    Seriously, sandbox, not very useful without any other kids in it to play with, even less useful without any sand no?

  7. Jokus didn't make up that comment its' a well known Facebook demot pic.


    1. Which is based on animal farm, right?

      It's also just a general philosophy, i.e., whoever made that poster didn't themselves come up with it

    2. The concept pre-dates Facebook by decades.

  8. I FCed some but RL issues kept me from aspiring further. Although I did like the commanding part.

    Am I the only one here who wants to command (and conquer)? :-)

  9. I agree with the barrier to entry idea. There is a large barrier even to simply join my own corp; it has a 45m SP minimum (which takes like, 2 or 3 years or something?) and generally completely random people are not recruited, i.e., you must have references. It's like when people complain about not being able to get a job: 'to get a job, I need experience, to get experience I need a job'

    There are several new alliances up in the north by SOLAR space though.

    Also, from what I understand, all you need to do to join goons or TEST is have a SA or reddit account, respectively, which speaks to their huge numbers.

    So it's not that hard for a new player to get into null specifically, even more so if they join a citizens or renter alliance. Still, that's not where the 'movers and shakers' are

    Overall, it is pretty unrealistic for a new player to expect to be ruling an alliance of thousands of people or FCing the same within a few months or even a year of playing the game. HTFU or GTFO tbh, but that's the asshole eve player in me

    I also believe CCP rather artfully addressed this issue in their 'causality' and 'eve is real' trailers. In the first, a new player is ganked (iirc) and infiltrates the alliance of gankers to get revenge. In the other, the hero of the battle is not the FC or glorious alliance leader, but the lowly interceptor pilot, also possibly a new player. And in the 'butterfly effect' trailer there is a similar idea

  10. You've finally picked up on the real story of EVE for the next 2 years. If the players are the content, are they providing content people want? If players are the content, then they control the content and CCP doesn't. That means CCP is at the mercy of the content providers. No business can run like that forever.

    The old guys effectively control EVE. New guys login to discover real PvP is 4+ months away and will be under the control of the old guys. New guy takes a stab at it, realizes that he has to get the equivalent of a community college degree just to figure out how to play and that he will then need an in game job to support his play. Meanwhile, various officious pricks make his game time less fun within whatever group he's joined. Most new guys drop the game at this point. I would love to know the conversion rate of new people to long time eve player. I'm willing to bet it's something on the order of 15 or 20 leaves to every 1 stay and potentially much, much higher.

    If the last ten ton hammer article by Mittens is even half serious, the conversion rate will get worse and worse. For a community this small, you'd think the old guys would wake up and realize that there's more to be gained from inclusivity than exclusivity. This disjunct puts CCP in a bad place. They're selling "player driven" content in which the players are flatly refusing to do the things necessary to help with player retention, even actively working against it. Those same players also don't want to "dumb down" the game (whatever that means: complexity does not equal "smart") or support a "kiddie pool" hisec.

    At some point CCP will have to make a decision about the way forward: is it their game or not? Is holding on to the bittervets worth alienating potential new players? Should CCP make decisions based on the loyalty of bittervets who may quit at some point? Is there a difference between "dumbing down" and "cleaning up"? How can pvp be encouraged if it takes an ingame job to pay for it? This decision will have to be made about 3 to 6 months after DUST goes live and they know whether or not it's bringing new players into EVE.

    The old guys can moan all they like about theme parks, but those games are cashing in on something basic that the EVE community just can't seem to understand: people want to have fun when they check out of reality and into a game. For all that I love the complexity and sandbox that is EVE, at some core level it's not actually fun most of the time; it's work.

    1. I call it "PVP Greed". This game has so many ways to engage in PVP, and yet there are those who whine incessantly about how highsec (or wormholes) is "too safe". Having a crapton of PVP opportunities available to them isn't enough, no, they want it all. Greed is good? Sure it is. Right up until there's nothing left for anyone else.

    2. uh...as far as mittens goes it's clearly "rabble rabble rabble" although it's his opinion and he seems to enjoy the hyperbole. Call me jaded but i can't see any rise in the laziness of MMOG players that wasn't evident a decade ago during the glory days of UO. Sadly, i didn't glean anything 'new' out of his latest article that didn't sound like a demagogue.

      "(pejorative) An orator or leader who gains favor by pandering to or exciting the passions and prejudices of the audience."

      The only thing i really really hope he's kidding about is "undocking a kestrel full of plexes" please god tell me he's joking.

    3. In my opinion this is a very thoughtful comment about the carebear/goon controversy. You made it quite clear that the term "game content" can help to express some issues the trolls on CCP-forums dont want to hear.

      Reading seleenes-sandbox.blogspot I was quite suprised that he spoke of a "nearly meltdown" by CCP regarding the Incarna fiasko.
      No way for me to get an idea of the underlying (CCP-)economics

  11. As Mittens said "Nullsec is a small and insular group of players. Most of us have been killing each other for years and changed sides so many times we can't keep track of who we're angry at."

    Which I think is a really bad thing and is probably a big factor in the current staleness of 0.0 right now. For how is a new player supposed to join the game, and then suddenly care about your war over a forum post from 5 years ago? They don't and they stay in empire. Talking to a lot of newer players in lowsec one of the feelings I get from them when talking about moving to 0.0 in general is the "why do I care about your war" problem. There is just not a lot of motivation to join a random 0.0 corp (IF you can), get crapped on by the vets, and make no real difference other than button pusher, all for a war you really don't care about.

    1. I don't know how much knowledge you have of sov/null warfare.
      But if i look at the crazy notion you had when you wrote the comment i can only guess its slim to none.
      More often than not, when there is a "war" there is no special grudge being held against any other entity. Except well maybe goons vs BOB/IT/whatever reincarnation.
      The thing i hear when there is a new war brewing is 1. Hey, theese targets are idiots, and fly poorly fitted ships, lets to dick swinging. 2. Hey, theese dudes have a fuckton of tech, and they are on the verge of failscading, lets push them over the edge. 3. This alliance have no leadership. Lets bash them and the poach their active and good members.

      I joined a random nullsec corp about 7 months ago, i am now an approved small gang fc(with access to SRF for the pilots that join my fleet)in our alliance, director in corp and what have you. And i spent 99.9% of my time before joining my current corp doing highsec wardecs and the occational lowsec roam.

      Is nullsec perfect? No it isn't, but it beats the living crap out of highsec anyday of the week.

  12. Taken as a whole, the entire playerbase of EVE, we DO pay for the game. Individual players subbing their account with PLEX aren't paying with RL money to play, somebody else is paying for them in exchange for isk. All in all it's a zero-sum affair, though, because someone somewhere has paid for the subbed gametime of everyone everywhere each month.

    If you want to get more granular than "the playerbase as a whole" and say rich PLEXers are "the content being sold", you could make that argument but I'm not buying it. The long-time famous and infamous characters in EVE have affected my gameplay indirectly, if at all, since I started playing a few years ago.

  13. "ell, it's arguable that the only major new movers and shakers the game has added in the last year have been the team that built the public incursion channels"

    The players that banded together and broke incursions and affected the community as a whole?

  14. My vote for a newer mover and shaker is Hans Jagerblitzen. Even before he was on the CSM, he did a whole lot to organize the FW feedback and to get CCP to focus on FW. He may not be running a large nullsec alliance, but he has impacted the game.

  15. I will admit that starting off on nullsec is a bumpy ride for a newer player I myself joined Rote Kapelle within 2 weeks of starting the game. And while its hard to fund yourself at that point its certainly not impossible. Hell I was already commanding fleets sub 2 million SP. My big thing is the wars of the sov alliances might as well not exist to me all I care about is the good fight and 5 to 20 man fleets tend to be my favorites. Players are the only content I am really interested in and I would love to see more reasons for people to hit null.

  16. If old players and bitter vets are now to be considered content in EVE then CCP, and EVE are in deep trouble.

    Those miscreant old players? They are/were the lifeblood of EVE. They are the lifeblood of any long running game, especially an MMO actually. They are the ones who do things, organise things, make the noise. You can call that content if you want, but these are the guys that can turn a crappy game into a brilliant one, or who in their absence turn a nice game into a damp squib.

    But there was a massive bloodletting last year of exactly these players. And since then there has been no real change of attitude by CCP to bring them back, or to utilise the commitment of the few that still remain. Essentially CCP's attitude, with some window dressing, still remains the same. And that attitude isn't inclusive, not where it counts. It is still as dismissive as it always was. It just takes new players some time to figure that out. Older players still see it everywhere.

    The reason why it is so difficult to point towards new 'movers-and-shakers' in EVE nowadays? Because EVE is stagnant, and there are fewer and fewer of those older players around. They are bored with the game, bored with the stagnation of development of the game (especially at the high end), bored with its lack of promise for a better game in the future (Actions not words! Remember that one?), bored with there being less and less of people like them still around, and finally bored with their input being continually dismissed or ignored. This game took a massive bodyblow last year. And it has been losing lifeblood ever since. And the new players can't make up for that bloodloss.

    This is an old story, and CCP hasn't turned itself around on that issue even one bit. Frankly I think they don't want those old movers-and-shakers back anyway: they're just difficult, and they remember too much. Just like those EVE 20%ers they kicked out over Christmas last year. And they don't want that inclusiveness either, it might challenge their own 'genius'.

    And so the stories told in EVE have become flatter and flatter (just look at all the community stuff that was done years ago, and what little is left of that now!). The 'content' less and less appealing (even if it looks better and the buttons actually work). And so something I would have never said two/three years ago is becoming a reality now: EVE is slowly dying of a fatal case of apathy.

    Then again, large numbers of old players saw that coming last year as well. Why do you think they left? Who'd want to be the last old fart still cackling about the little engine that could but hasn't for years now?

  17. My vote for new Player/mover is Cozmic Cowboy of The Ditanium Fleet incursion public channel. Although I think with the Incursion nerf CCP has killed the Incursion communities so any strives at bringing in new blood were killed off because CCP Soundwave listened to the whiners in the Forums and the CSM whom didn't want any competition or threats to thier power base.


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