Saturday, May 10, 2014

For Once, a Simple Sales Problem…

~or, “Are You a Betting Man?”

I was absolutely floored, stunned, incredulous and a little ashamed tonight when I read Jester’s post, “The seven percent solution”.

This shows how at the New Player Experience panel at FanFest this year, according to Ripard, CCP Rise made it very clear, as Ripard took it at least, that,

…when new players pay for -- not try out, pay for! -- EVE, 50% of them leave the game very shortly after doing so (he implies their subscriptions last for one month). 40% of them move into solo activities, which he primarily describes as missioning. And in his words only "five to ten percent" join a group had have a diverse experience with the game.”

Ripard’s summation is as follows:

Put another way, between 80 and 90 percent of all new EVE subscribers that stay with the game for more than a month (a) avoid playing the game with other EVE players; and (b) many will probably leave the game anyway.

That’s right… 80 to 90% of all new subs that stay with the game for more than a month, and MANY will PROBABLY leave... Now Ripard in his usual style then poses a question based on this data, he asks…

…if you were CCP with a limited budget to support development of EVE Online, where would you put your resources? If you think CCP should put more resources to this larger group of solo players, how do you think it would help?

“Well Yea,” you say, “I can see absolutely floored, stunned, incredulous… but ashamed?” “WTF ashamed?

Yea… ashamed… ashamed that this question even needs to be asked, ashamed that CCP does not see the plain, and only answer.

I’ll simply quote myself in my comment on this…

This is sooo bloody simple Jester I am ashamed the question was even asked....

CCP has never shown interest in competing in solo content-driven theme park MMOs. The fact that players drive content in EVE has always been the game's competitive advantage. But between 80 and 90 percent of new EVE subscribers are avoiding that game play.

If 80 to 90% of the people who try out your game leave, and they seem to be looking for good solo PvE gameplay.... FUKKIN GIVE IT TO THEM! Jezuz why is this so gods damned hard to understand??

(1) Give that 80 to 90% of players, who having played themeparks for YEARS and therefore only know themepark gameplay... Give them what they want... really top notch PvE... THEN once they are HERE, you have a shot at them 'discovering' (IE SHOW THEM) what real sandbox social gameplay is and how it can be soooo much MORE than Themepark solo PvE based gameplay...

Jezuz why is this hard to understand???? If 80 to90% of your potential customers are walking in, looking around for 15 minutes and leaving... the only possible  reason is, You are not selling something they want… IE, They are not the problem... YOU are.

The real issue? CCP has never shown interest in competing in solo content-driven theme park MMOs.

Really? No interest in solo content CCP? How about this… 80 to 90% of your potential customer base WANT THIS.

Soooo…   Give ‘em what they WANT. Create and USE New Awesome PvE as your “CARROT”… Then you will have a chance to show Themepark Inculcated players that there is something different, something new (to them) and something really amazing and wonderful in MMOs… EVE Online’s Immersive, Deep, Intelligent, and the Emergent Player Created Content gameplay… whether solo, casual, small gang, large gang, very large gang or 10,000 player Empires….

They are NOT the problem.... YOU are. Give them what they want, and they will come.” It actually is that easy… am I the ONLY one who sees how incredibly simple this is???

And I also find CCP Rise’s wording very interesting…

About half of the New Players, who have actually subbed, leave after something like 1 month… but, 40% FORTY PERCENT, almost half…

…move into a very isolated playstyle…”   IE Solo, casual play
”…mining and/or missioning, actually missioning a lot more than mining…”   IE Solo, casual play
“…they stay pretty much to themselves…”   IE Solo, casual play
…they don’t engage in a very diverse range of activities.”   IE Solo, casual play

Then he most tellingly says this…
They’re pretty much just doing that, umm, you know, straight forward Themepark of, umm, sticking to missions and, you know, leveling up their Raven basically.
And for some people that really fits, uhh.”

He goes on to say about CCP Veritas that, “…for him this is actually amazing.” “He loves this type of gameplay and we have a lot of people who do, and that’s awesome.

He then says,
 “…but we’re definitely, we can see very clearly that our New Player Experience is pushing people this way.” “This is where they’re heading when they come out of it, and for many of them, umm, that’s not a good fit, and so, ummm, they end up leaving.”

He seems to ‘blame’ the NPE for this… as if there is something intrinsically wrong with it… saying, “…for many of them, that’s not a good fit.”… Hmmm… really? 40% of your new players, 40% of YOUR paying customers play this way. FOURTY PERCENT… and it’s a problem how?

I want to know, of the 40%, HOW MANY actually end up leaving? He doesn’t say. What he does say next is not about the 40% though, he says;

We have this other small group, of, you know, 5 to 10%, that do move into a really wide range of experiences.

Then we have this other…
really small group….
5 to 10%.

Five to Ten Percent… that CCP Rise very very obviously feels is the be all and end all of the EVE Playerbase, He all but gushes with enthusiasm for all the things they DO get involved in… then;

These people tend to stick with us. These people are, umm, are all of you guys most likely.” He says, looking at the FanFest audience, (laughs) “And they love the game and they stay with the game fer a long time.

He follows with, “And to us that says that the more we can do to get people having the kind of experiences that this groups is having, the better off we’ll be, umm, because obviously for them it’s, it’s, it really rich and  meaningful and it sticks with them, uh, for a long time.

He points (to a screen?) and says;

And I have one more (something I could not make out clearly) ‘cause yes, we do have , umm, more often than not the people in this track tend to leave, whereas the other group, ah,  doesn’t.”

"...people in this track tend to leave..." I can only assume he was referring to the 40% as compared to the 10%, but I feel it is probably an accurate assumption.

He then states,
So, the last goal we can take, is to encourage, uh, meaningful experiences as much as possible.

Listen for yourself, don’t just read what Jester and I think…

I’m gonna stop there as that covers what I am concerned about… CCP is banking their whole roll on the 5 to 10% who play, they way THEY think we should play, IE “Meaningful Experiences”… in a sandbox game.  I swear I thought I had heard it all.

Oh, and one last thing… yes Jester, CCP has a “…limited budget to support development of EVE Online”… Do you actually know ANYONE who doesn’t?? Seriously, do you? I have been an IT Tech Consultant for 17 years… I worked a wide variety of jobs until I found IT… and I never have worked one day with ANYONE who actually had anywhere near the capitol or funding they needed, much less wanted,  to do what they wanted to… So what?

It’s not about the total of money you have available; it’s about where you spend what you do have. If 80 to 90%(?) of your potential customer base is walking out the door having found nothing they want… you had better restock, and do it quickly.

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=


  1. Good post! Stating the self-evident.

    I'm a newer player. The "storyline theme" of Eve is Eve Online's best marketing point. Your point of migrating from theme to hollow PvP by CHOICE is spot on.

  2. LOL... Nowhere did I say Oh CCP, PLEASE MAKE EVE A SAFE THEMEPARK you dunce... If you really are a noob FYI I live in W-space, negative security space, the deadliest space IN the game man... so no, I do not ever want non-consensual PvP to be nerfed... even a little bit.

    What I said was, make the PvE GOOD enough to get the 40% to stay, and mebbe catch some of the 50% who flee on sight, to grow the overall playerbase. And evidently the Storyline Theme aint working if we are retaining only 5 to 10% of players who TRY EVE, now is it?

  3. Good post Tur.

    Yup I was as surprised as you were when Rise and Jester stated that 90% of players are leaving and concluded "let's improve things for the 10%."

    1. I think they are just blinded by two things... (1) the amount of press Nullsec gets and (2) their own 'vision' of EVE as a social game only... EVE is an MMO, and as such it can cater to a wide variety of playstyles... and it should. No NOT SAFE playstyles... That is where I draw the line. EVE is primarily a PvP game, but it could be one that also has good PvE... giving more players reasons to fly here... and find out how amazing a game can be when risk is real and virtual things have value.

      Focusing on only 5 to 10% of new subs simply cannot be a winning business model.

  4. An excellent post, I have been playing eve now for 3 years. Although I am in a small corp, I tend to play solo due to RL and time zones. A lot of potential players simply do not have the time to commit to playing in corp. I have come close to leaving a few times due to the lack of real solo work/content to do in eve.
    A few ideas...
    Make more missions story based increase the eve lore, similar to the epic arcs. With better risk/rewards.
    Have some of the missions go into WH space, looking for some sleeper artefacts.
    Have the NPC’s drop attack drones on you.
    Create discovery missions, having to use a scanning boat and then trying to solve and piece together clues to a reward hidden at some location. This could end in a combat or hacking mission.

    1. This is exactly what I am talking about... EVE's PVE needs to be better, for those who can't invest more into the game... EVE is an SciFi genre game and there is a wealth of potential storyline style situations that could be made into missions... the examples you give are excellent.

      Get people interested, give them something FUN to do WHILE they figure out that there is more here.

  5. A few questions I hope they're looking at and being brutally honest with themselves about:

    1. Why do so many players avoid these social entanglements we're so keen to get them into?

    2. Is it possible we don't fully understand what kinds of social activities really are out there and we're limiting ourselves to seeing only a few kinds as valid?

    3. Is driving people to social engagement with other players the be-all and end-all of player retention? (I think to some extent they made a correlation/causation mistake with that one.)

    The PVE needs to be better, absolutely. I haven't heard much disagreement about that.

    Most people I hang out with in EVE I know from other social venues, and the larger group is made up of people one to two degrees of separation from that. We just don't meet up with absolute strangers very much. I'm a fairly outgoing person IRL, so not being friendly to strangers in-game is odd for me, but that's kinda how we all get conditioned by the game culture. I wish things were different, honestly.

  6. Lies, damned lies, and statistics =).

    We know how many people leave. We know what they do and don't do (mission/mine and interact with other players at all, respectively). Are they leaving because the content they want is so-so, or are they leaving because they think it's the only content? I think this is what CCP Rise is getting at with his remark about NPE experience.

    Consider that most players are likely to be coming from either single player games or conventional themepark MMOs. They finish NPE (familiar questing, gathering, crafting), run the SoE arc (more questing), get some sweet leveling gear... er, ships... now what? Questing and gathering for better gear, right? This is why they end up leveling up their Ravens. They never go past what the tutorial specifically taught them to do.

    You can certainly make an argument that a better solo experience would retain more of these players. Perhaps. Piece by piece, Blizzard reworked WoW into an easy, largely solo affair. Tons of polished, low commitment content. WoWville? Got it. PokeWoW? Yep. Raids for everyone? You bet. Yet they are still bleeding subs.

    Now, I agree that improving solo experience would make the game better. For everybody. I might even run a mission or two myself then, but doubt it would make group #3 stick around. They'll finish that content, too, and move on. Also, I'm not convinced that aiming to out-content the king of solo themepark content is a sound business decision.

    1. The problem with PvE content is as you outlined: people finish the story, then look for the next thing.

      I wonder if EVE already provides a broad enough environment such that the PvE can be a little unpredictable, have a few stories linking things together, and keep a story-focussed player occupied for a hundred hours before they exhaust the "content"?

      In W-space there are discoveries: entering certain sites brings up narrative from your ship's computer for example. The PvE content in EVE doesn't really need to be as involved as the main storyline quests of Elder Scrolls.

      One peril of adding more/better story lines to missions is that you get the same missions over and over again: the first time I ran The Anomaly, it was awesome! The second time it was like visiting a friend. The third time it was like having your old friend drop in on you unannounced. The fourth time it was like some stranger dropping in on you unannounced. Now I'm tired of it =(

      Another easter egg from "the good old days" were the pirate logs: basically little snippets of stories telling you about the location of certain DED complexes.

      EVE doesn't need to "out-content" the solo PvE content kings. There is plenty of scope to tie the story of EVE into PvE without turning the game into a theme park.

      But is the lack of solo PvE what turns the 50% away after the first month?

    2. Bottom line, this: There is plenty of scope to tie the story of EVE into PvE without turning the game into a theme park.

      I have no idea what turns away 50%... I was hooked from day one, as hooked as I am now 3 1/2 years later. I have no idea what other gamers are looking for, EVE is the only game I play, and the ONLY MMO I have ever played for more than a week or two.

      OK, so what drove me from all the MMOs I did try? (1) dunt wanna be an elf nor play with magic. I prefer SciFi and 'reality'. (2) all the SciFi games I tried came off... I dunno, cartooninsh... and hard to suspend disbelief, no 'Immersion'... EVE had that in spades from day one for me... the graphics and the sense of one 'verse...

      I'm prolly not a good test subject. But, we need to know what does drive em off... or leave em wanting more/other than what EVE has...

  7. I've tried other MMOs, and I was a GM in an MMO 10-ish years ago. EVE's the one I've stuck with the longest.

    I love EVE, but parts of it really bother me. In the back of my head, there's an ongoing train of thought that wonders if at some point I'm going to regret paying into and supporting a game where some batshit crazy dysfunctional stuff is par for the course.

    I'm a Southerner, and a chick. It's pretty obvious I'm not their target audience. :-P And yet I persist, because my husband and a few RL friends still play. And because I'm stubborn enough to take some pride in playing the game in a way that may be considered wrong or stupid. :-)

    1. Interesting... can't say I've ever felt that way and I am a batshit crazy dysfunctional 53 yo southern guy... but I also live in a wormhole, so mebbe I'm not the best test case for normal huh? =]

  8. Oh, I see wormhole brawling as folks gettin' rowdy, something we Southerners have a keen appreciation of. :-) More than half my friends who play EVE live at least part time in wormholes. I lived in one briefly before I realized I needed to live closer to shopping. Heh. (IRL, I am SO not a shopper, but EVE's a whole different deal.)

    The stuff I'm talking about is creepier and meaner. Makes me uncomfortable. I do my best to just ignore it.

    1. Yea... creepy and mean is not my bag either. And we do have our share I am afraid... Well, I always say, getting more than 3 people together on anything is usually a problem... we're no differnt.

  9. Played WoW for years. Still log in from time to time, but not often. Tried quite a few other games, too, mainstream and not. EVE is my only hope =).

    It was kind of sad watching Blizzard trying to be all things to all people. They polished and polished and polished, and worked all these rough edges, systematically tracking down and smoothing out the smallest bumps. Anything that could potentially push this group away or that group away... all gone. And the feeling of being part of a living world and living history went with it. This is my main fear when it comes to EVE, to be honest. That step by step they'll throw the game away while trying to please everybody.

    Of course, that's just me and I'm probably not in the majority either. I did stay in EVE after all... We are the 10%! =)

    1. I am the same way... EVE is the only MMO I have ever not only been able to get into, but enjoyed as deeply as this. I know CCP has to carefully balance the development for all playstyles...

      I personally hope they keep to the core vision of EVE as a game with these key elements;
      (1) 'freedom' to play the game as you please (sandbox)
      (2) you are 'never really SAFE anywhere' (open PvP)
      (3) skills are not based on 'repetition' (RT skilling)
      (4) changes are for the good of the whole game, not just one playstyle and the most important...
      (5) "Loss is REAL" (everything is player made and destructible)

      With those Five Key Elements as unbreakable cornerstones of ALL gameplay in EVE, then they can focus, as CCP Seagull seems to be doing, on growth and changes that benefit each of the Five Prime Playstyles...
      (1) Solo (defines itself)
      (2) Casual (players with limited/constrained playtime)
      (3) Small Gang (players who want a smaller social game)
      (4) Large Gang (defines itself) and
      (5) Player Empires, in EVE, Nullsec Coalition gameplay.

      This past week has defined those above 10 Key Points rather sharply for me. As long as all changes are ruled by the first 5 and benefit, without breaking, the last 5... then I think we have a real shot at continued growth for EVE Online.

      And thanx... I had been, as so many were, muddling along feeling like the 5 to 10% were all the nullseccers, you know... The Ebil Empires. But here it turns out, I am one... oh not one of the 'Enemy', but I guess I am one of the 5 to 10%... I am a social player, I am a content creator... I guess I'm just a Small Gang guy.


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