Blog Banter 35: The Public Perception of EVE Online
Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. Is this perception deserved? Should “The Nation of EVE” be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?
[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]
I read two mainstream computer magazines each month – both of which have gaming sections. Over the last 6 years that I have been playing EVE – some 140+ editions, I have only seen EVE online mentioned once. I’ve never seen it mentioned in the IT Tech sections of the couple national papers I read, or the occasional episode I catch of a computer games related TV show. Whenever it has come up in conversation, next to none of my circle of friends, colleagues or acquaintances have heard of it.
World of Warcraft and franchises such as Halo, The Sims, Super Mario, Call of Duty, Angry birds and so on are frequently mentioned in main stream media. While EVE might be technically respected and have a solid fan base, it seems pretty much unknown out of the MMO sphere.
Ah, that EVE
Those few people I come across in real life who have heard of EVE tend to show disdain for the game – it is too complicated, or the interface is too poor, or there is too much repetition and mouse clicking. Those with interest might look wistful, but always seem to indicate that they just can’t imagine themselves spending the time and effort to really get into the game.
Even though I love the game and have played it for years, I don’t try and sell it to my friends. I know it requires a learning curve and effort, in an environment that is often unforgiving and immoral, that most of them won’t appreciate. My friends who did play have moved on, only able to go a couple years before it just required too much effort for a more casual gamer to progress further.
The small public identify EVE does have seems to be that it is a deep and complicated game that isn’t for everyone.
Still – it seems to be profitable with a slow but steady organic growth, so maybe there isn’t really an issue.
When EVE is in the MMO media, it seems to be for two reasons. First is a level of fascination at the politics and scope of the events which occur in game. While good, I am not sure how many new players it encourages. It is not as if they can pick up the game and be instantly involved. They generally have to work through an apprenticeship which can take years.
The second reason to see EVE in the MMO media is for less savory drama – player revolts, CCP mess ups, the Mittani’s faux pas and so on. Such drama is not good. People play games for fun and to escape – and such coverage suggests EVE might be more hassle than it’s worth.
A common theme – from me as well, is that to make EVE more appealing to the masses, CCP will have to make changes which would likely break what makes the game special in the first place. The age old suggestions of making things less complicated, or cutting down on the ability to grief and be nasty. While I was going to ramble on in the same vein, one word in the previous paragraph jumped out at me – fun.
If CCP want to increase their subscriber numbers, they should focus on making all aspects of the game fun. It seems obvious, but I have found many aspects of game play are interesting to research and get working, but then are almost immediately boring. You don’t even have to master it before mining, PI, most of the PVE content and so on are no longer fun. I am not sure how you fix that – but that should be a goal.
Dust might throw a spanner in the works. I have no real interest in the FPS genre, and I don’t follow it in the media. The numbers suggested as having access to the free DUST download via their PS3 however are just mindboggling. If CCP manage to pull off a half acceptable game, they could have a huge number of gamers exposed to the EVE world.
What they will find is not just the same maps to play over and over – the maps they will influence instead cover thousands of solar systems and tens of thousands of planets. To be successful they need to work with player corporations and alliances. The environment has longevity and consequence to it. I don’t envision large numbers of those players then deciding to subscribe to the space ship component, but if the game manages to get into the mainstream media more often, then those unique people who could carve a niche out for themselves in EVE might have an easier time finding the game.
EVE should continue along happily enough regardless what happens with Dust. If Dust is successful however, it could have a huge impact on the EVE subscription numbers. It will be interesting to see.
I was going to say a drone launch button – but that becomes more complicated once you have multiple drone types. I use a Logitech G110 keyboard, and the EVE key macro I use the most is [CNTL] W (to select all). It’s boring, but still gets used in lots of places even after the loot all button was added.
A list of participants (that will be updated by the owner as time permits) can be found here: