Crystal Ball and Tea Leaves
Predicting CCP is a lot easier when you realize that they have come a long way from the freewheeling pirate-accountant image they had reminiscent of the Monty Python gag. Today CCP Games is a business, not a perfect one by any stretch, but certainly one trying to improve the balance sheet and make as much money as possible.
With exactly 1 product line to work with, and nearly all of it’s revenue from 1 source, CCP has to nurse EvE, while making it as profitable as possible. There are three directions they have to juggle.
- Find new monetary sources within EvE (NEX, Gold Ammo Exchange, merch)
- Expand the EvE playerbase (improved NPE, features to attract lapsed accounts)
- Maintain the current playerbase (features)
PvP is one of the most contentious issues facing CCP. The current playerbase generally enjoys it, and while a vocal minority doesn’t they haven’t quit yet either. Let’s look at ways that CCP can make money in each of these arenas.
1. Is the simplest and most danger-ridden. Gold Ammo will find buyers. It will also drive swathes of people out of the game completely. CCP isn’t going to try anything along these lines without a clear mandate from the playerbase.
2. There’s a lot of options here. Simplifying the item naming conventions, as they are currently doing, pushing corps and alliances that do PvP for the sake of doing it (RvB anyone?) and taking advantage of other institutions that make a concerted effort to train players (EvE-uni) is a great, low-cost method to get new players in the game and let them see more of what is available to them.
Rebalancing ship classes, eliminating the tiered system and moving towards ship “roles” will be a popular feature, and can easily be a draw to return lapsed players, especially if it comes with more re-skinned/redesigned ships.
Finally changes to the mechanics to either encourage or discourage PvP will have a huge effect on the playerbase. Say PvP becomes more difficult in highsec with wardecs becoming more restrictive and difficult to start, and CONCORD becomes more of a police force and less of a punitive force, this will draw more players into the “shallow end” of the PvP pool. I am not necessarily advocating this, but it might be interesting to see.
At the same time changes to GCC, Sec Status, Faction Warfare, and the general travesties of lowsec life to encourage PvP in the periphery of empire space bring more life to the area and a huge number of resubs. Possibly even celebrities like Mynxee would come back ;).
While I’m on the topic of FW, there’s an issue with CCPs perception of it. Right now the noise has been CCP using FW to test nullsec sov war concepts. FW has been pushing back with “If we wanted Sov we’d move to null” CCP seems to be torn between creating a linear path of progression, from the Highsec “shallow end” of pvp to the nullsec “deep end” with faction warfare being a training ground for sov war both for players to learn the ropes and CCP to develop them. I think this is a mistake and I hope that Hans Jagerblitzen and his godawful portrait can convince CCP to continue the sandbox. Create diverse environments and encourage a wide variety of people to come out and play. Turning FW into Sov Lite won’t work and certainly wont fix the issues FW has. Talk to Hans, listen to Hans, and take his suggestions. Healthier FW will make for more EvE players, as will healthier lowsec in general.
3. A lot of these have already been covered. Especially Faction warfare, the main point here is that a nerf in pvp anywhere will hurt the playerbase. As I’ve said in the past, buffs are popular, nerfs aren’t. Changes to pvp in one area will be a nerf and a buff. For example lets say a change to CONCORD makes them instantly spawn a jamming ship to improve the frequency of “saving” ships from ganks. This will be a huge buff for miners and haulers etc. It will be a huge nerf to gankers. (not that huge due to tornadoes but you get the idea)
CCP has to walk a fine line, but since I’m reading the future here is what I see happening in PvP:
CCP continues to push back against PvP in highsec, while trumpeting the fact that wardecs are now harder to dodge, they also make them harder to create and more restrictive in general. Wardecs only work in certain regions, as they represent bribes to local CONCORD officials, and while they stick to targets even as they cycle alliances and people jump in and out, they also don’t go beyond the jurisdiction of those officials and Empire-Wide wardecs quickly become a thing of the past. Interestingly enough the commissioner of the Forge becomes the richest man in EvE from the bribes.
Changes to lowsec in turn make pew pew in low orders of magnitude more popular. Reduced circumstances for GCC flags, reduced timers, and reduced sec hits make low the “to go” locale for casual pvp. Faction warfare gets massive buffs, with programs designed to increase accessibility and sites becoming pvp arenas, not pve missions.
Nullsec Receives an occupancy based sov system. That is a system has to have activity to belong to someone, and the strength of that activity will determine who it belongs to. This drives recruiting for alliances to fully exploit their bases and at the same time erode their enemies support base by denying them the ability to maintain an active stance in their base.
In the long-term I see highsec PvP diminishing to a small fraction, mostly ganks and a few harassment decs around Jita, and the persistent, consensual wars of groups like RvB. This safer area brings in many, many players, and allows others to fund their accounts through missioning, mining, incursioning even in the face of rising plex prices. Lowsec becomes the wild west blending into NPC 0.0 and creating at least some progression in learning the mechanics of PvP. Nullsec benefits as well, as the influx of players begin moving to nullsec for the moneymaking (Incursions being rather harder to find with a greater playerbase) and reduced rents offered to increase occupancy and numbers grants them the leverage to offer even larger battles and better services to their players.
This is assuming they don’t make missteps and the players like the changes at some point. Obviously there’s a lot of potential missteps.