So Dust 514 is out. Everything about it is pretty much… meh. It’s a fun game, an engaging one, but not terribly rewarding to play in the beginning, nor is it intuitive. It’s fun to read about. It’s interesting to see others play it well. It’s not really my cup of tea.
And I’m not the only one.
These numbers aren’t pretty. Two weeks after release and this game hasn’t exactly roared onto the scene. CCP needs this game to succeed. They need to show potential investors that they can do more, and compete. They need to show investors that they will get a payout predictably and this… this doesn’t show it. This isn’t enough customers, let alone paying customers, to recoup the money spent on Dust in years. Let alone the ongoing cost of maintaining it.
Why do I think CCP is struggling with Dust? Well, resources don’t help. They simply didn’t have enough to make a real first rate, first person MMOShooter. It’s an okay game, but it’s doomed against even the likes of Planetside because it struggles with very basic things. Like aiming controls.
Even if they got the fundamentals down, and made the game more playable for people who already love console shooters, look at the list at the beginning. Think about what all your friends who can’t stand EvE said about EvE. Now nod your heads. Baa like sheep while you are at it. That’s right people. CCP really made an EvE first person shooter. Right down to the core issues. That’s a problem. There’s no real competition for EvE’s niche. The ultra-dark, hardcore, sci-fi, sandbox MMO niche is rather vacant with only EvE chained up frothing at the mouth guarding it’s food bowl and a bunch of scared other developers wondering whether a couple nibbles of kibble is worth fighting the Cerberus guarding it. The first person shooter market is rather more like armies of well-disciplined soldiers armed to the teeth guarding their own farms with acres of food at stake. Sure there’s a TON more people out there than there are for EvE’s niche. How many of them aren’t already in one camp or another? How many are likely to wander in and get snared unawares?
Dust is a niche product trying to establish itself in a realm that is well staked out, well established, and with some baffling “advantages” that look like handicaps. I’m going to take a moment to talk about my favorite. The “Meta”
So Awoxing is a bit of a thing in EvE. Ok it’s a big thing in EvE. It’s not that big out of EvE so on the off chance that you like shooters and you are reading this I’ll describe it. An Awoxer is someone who joines a corp in EvE with the intention of killing its members for fun. Or profit. Mostly fun (and profit.) In other games this is horrendous. In EvE it is hilarious. And profitable. What does this have to do with shooters? Well I’ll tell you.
So now you can take over planets to support your EvE buddies. Of course you can also sabotage your enemies to ensure that you win your battles. The best way to do this is to infiltrate the enemy merc corp and awox the ever loving shit out of them. That’s right, joining their army to reduce their numbers and cripple their efforts. This is a simply infuriating tactic. For one thing Dust doesn’t let you pour 200 people into a fight like EvE. Or 2000 for that matter, so one person who is a double-agent can really upset things. 3 or 4 and it’s all over but the crying. This means that not having a good means of sniffing out spies and awoxers can really hurt your DUST corps in a hurry. Then there’s e-honor. FPS players LOVE their stats. They love their kill ratios, their damage ratios, everything. Throw them in a match where they get murdered to hell and gone by an awoxer and the bloom is off the rose fast. Overcoming your own losses to win the battle may sound glorious, but it stinks on the stat sheet most of the time.
This creates a first person shooter that basically appeals to EvE players. Rather than exposing a wider world to the opportunity to participate in the EvE Universe, the initial impact has been more like exposing the daring souls who choose to approach to the scum and villainy that we EvE players celebrate and the world applauds. From a safe distance. Like, behind the electric fences.
For EvE and DUST to coexist in a useful and meaningful way DUST players have to be exposed to the meta game. There’s simply no way for the games to overlap without backstabbing, face stabbing, and general shenanigans being part of regular events. HOWEVER this will limit the general appeal of DUST. People want the battles to be decided in the field, and that’s just not the way EvE is played. Major battles in EvE might be decided in the field, but no one leaves a really important fight to chance. People like The Mittani, Shadoo, and fallen giants like Sir Molle, Bobby Atlas and others all rise and fall based on their ability to win, then fight. They meta-game the shit out of events so that the enemy comes to the field in ruins, outclassed and without hope. That doesn’t sound like a first person shooter to me. That doesn’t sound like a casual game someone plops on the couch to play while waiting for their mac n cheese to finish.
DUST 514 isn’t doomed, but CCP needs to really figure out how to not only fix the basic mechanical problems that plague it, but how to get new types of players into the EvE universe, even at a remove from EvE itself. It’s not an easy problem, and there’s no easy answers, but if CCP is going to save DUST (and it needs saving) they have to come up with the answers and soon.
I’m using it every time I can