Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eve Online: does CCP love griefers?

CCP, the creators of Eve Online, publish a Quarterly Economic Newsletter (QEN) in which they provide a lot of data concerning Eve's economy. In the QEN for Q2 2009, on page 13, we find this interesting tidbit:

"..However, the majority of EVE players are located in hisec space, or 70% of the total number of characters. Thus, most ISK is located in hisec. The least amount of ISK is located in lowsec space, where only 13% of EVE characters reside."

This segment of the QEN discusses the distribution of characters and ISK (Eve's in game currency) throughout Eve's single shard universe. For those of you unfamiliar with Eve, here's a quick primer on security in Eve Online's New Eden. This universe is divided in three areas, each with a different security policy. Pilots in high security space (highsec or hisec) are protected by the (quite effective) in game NPC police force called Concord, which provides the most protection on areas with security level 1.0, but a little less in 0.9, and so forth to 0.5 where a pilot is least protected. Pilots in lowsec (security levels 0.4 to 0.1) should not count on any protection; it is essentially a deserted wasteland with the occasional hornets' nest of pirates. Nullsec (0.0) is altogether different; player run alliances own these areas and they dictate who's safe or not.

Back to the QEN: it says, in short, that most of the characters - 70% - and ISK are located in high security space. This probably also means that highsec is, for CCP, the most valuable area in Eve Online in terms of paying customers. I know that '70% of the characters' doesn't directly translate to '70% of the paying customer base', but alt characters and multiple accounts are as common in highsec as they are in nullsec. At any rate, it seems that highsec pilots are instrumental in funding CCP and Eve Online. From my admittedly anecdotal experience, I think most of these paying customers are no hardcore PVP players or pirates, but peaceful miners and mission runners, carebears and newbies.

Yet the gameplay of Eve Online doesn't do these people many favours. Rather, it's the other way around. Especially newer pilots, mining or running PVE missions in their n00b ships, often fall prey to more experienced griefer players who know enough about the rules to trick the unexperieced into an unfair fight which the newbie is certain to lose. Carebear corporations, newbie corps, miners and such are a regular and easy prey for pirate corps who regularly - and often for the sheer fun of bashing weaker players - declare war on them. There's nothing you can do about such a wardec; the gameplay allows any corp to declare war (wardec) any other, as long as the wardeccing corp pays the necessary fees. For the wardecced corps, if you're not an experienced PVP corps, it often means either don't play EVE until the war is over ('dock and turtle') or run the risk of losing your ship and your expensive implants. Wars can last weeks; recently while I was on holiday, many of my corp mates lost almost a months' worth of playing time due to a series of wardecs.

I understand that this is part of the game. This is New Eden, it's a harsh environment, but still I don't understand why CCP continues to keep it this way. I have known a lot of trial accounts who chose not to become paying customers, and I know of (formerly!) paying accounts who refuse to ever set foot in Eve again after being harassed, griefed or wardecced one too many times. After all, why should I pay 15 dollars a month, only to be forced to dock and turtle almost the entire month, or to allow some griefer jerk to blow me to pieces? Not my idea of fun, really. When I just started out in Eve, I almost quit over such an incident, and if I hadn't found a good corp at that moment, I would certainly have quit indeed.

CCP loses money in cancelled subscriptions or lack of trial account retention, due to the fact that they allow pirates and griefers to harass (especially) less experienced players and corps in highsec. Yet it also seems that highsec is the region with the largest population of paying customers! These miners, pve mission runners and their corps, they just hang in there, and when they quit, their numbers get replenished with new players time and time again, despite the (CCP blessed) efforts to have them harassed, wardecced and griefed out of New Eden. They are many, but they could have been more, if CCP had wanted them to be; if CCP had given them a bit more protection.

I'm obviously not advocating a radical overhaul of Eve's gameplay. But, some added protection (in for instance the 0.8 to 1.0 regions of highsec, or in the first months of being a pilot) for certain categories of players against can baiters, flippers, griefers, or some recourse for corps against serial wardeccing pirate corps could be beneficial to player retention and thus to CCP's bottom line and Eve's long term prospects.


Anonymous said...

I agree to the points raised. CCP does seem to dislike carabearness.

Eugenio Mastroviti said...

The thing is, for some rather strange combination of factors being a sociopath has become a "cool thing" in the MMORPG world, and CCP knows that appealing to sociopaths means being able to hold onto a hard core of dedicated (and paying) gamers, while maintaining a steady stream of potential victims for those same sociopaths with the simple expedient of downplaying the amount of in-game griefing in the official and semi-official documentation.

So yes, CCP does love griefers, because it makes economic sense: a sociopath who finds a place online to vent his frustrations will become the most loyal of customers - something investors love.

Anonymous said...

Speaking out as one of the minor "griefers" in EVE, it was an interesting read. CCP are not just a mere group of faceless profiteers (like many carebears). They care about the game, and want to make it better, not make it a bigger payroll. As such, I would guess after making HUGE areas of Null-sec for players to colonise, vast wormholes for people to explore, and the only game in my knowledge to give an experience so engrossing as to make you shake involunterily in a fight, that they want people to "grind" away missions. Even highsec griefing can get you're adrenaline pumping. It's a shame so many people pay a subscription just for a grind.

For many, EVE is a vision made flesh. No-where else can you do (nearly) anything you like without GM interfearance. It's as close to a true sandbox as you'll get. For that reason alone, I hope it stays as it is.

Anonymous said...

Can flippers are the true carebears of eve.

I have played Eve from 2005 and my can got flipped first time today.(first day I mined) I really have to say the rules of engagement are really on the can flippers side.

Only good tactic for the _lonely_ miner is to flip the can back in a shuttle and let the griefer shoot his shuttle.

I really hope CCP could give longer kill rights to victim. It would really spice things up when victim could retaliate after 2 weeks on his own terms. I could start can baiting can flippers. :D

Sered Woollahra said...

The extension of kill rights would be a fun addition! It would allow carebears to assemble a fleet and hunt the offending party down.. good idea. Don't think it will make the CSM wish list though :)

Stamon griefer said...

Some people just do not belong in a cut throat gaming environment there are other games for them.

Anonymous said...

I think there does need to be more player run control or marking of griefers. Most of the inhabitants of hisec, like indy corps and other carebears, do not have the means or the will to defend against wardeccers. From what I've seen, most now switch corps to avoid wardecs, or even use decshielding. Many of these corps are rich, and I would like to see them be able to use that money to deflect wardecs somehow, perhaps by paying concord. Don't tell me mercs, because no one hires them as it is.

The eve universe also breeds quite a bit of mistrust, due to the difficulty in determining who is and is not a griefer. Asset theft, corp mate ganking, pos destruction, ect. There is no punishment for the perpetrator, and all blame is assigned to the corp for letting that person in. Imagine being robbed in real life, and it was your fault for being in that location. As I said, I don't want non player base punishment for these acts, ie bans. But I want a built in way of getting these people nailed down. There are good third party tools and websites for this, but zero support from CCP.

Anonymous said...

I think CCP has a "funny" attitude to what some people call griefers. Yes, they are sociopaths imho. They gank to make your life a misery, not because that frigate in low sec offers any threat. They tell the carebears to "arm up" while they equip their shiny T2 ships to blow the carebears up once they come with their T1 Battleship. But unfortunately (?), they are not the majority of the wages for CCP. And once the subscription numbers drop enough, eve will be gone, period. Because of lack of these carebears. But the sociopaths will just move to another MMO.
And yes, "Eve is a harsh enviroment" but that does not mean that anyone has to agree to get a baseball bat in his face 5 Minutes after logging on just because a griefer thinks it is funny to bring misery to another player.
If Palpatines Empire had been as harsh an enviroment, Luke would have snuffed it 5 Minutes into the movie.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree. Eve is a terrible game. CCP is content with only have 30k subs or whatever terrible numbers they have are. They could easily have over a million if they would stop pandering to a tiny fraction of the playerbase who are useless a-holes at best. Accessibility is the way of the future in MMOs, and the first game that is "Eve without griefing" will absolutely destroy it.

Sered Woollahra said...

Currently there are around 350-400k subscriptions to Eve Online, and CCP is putting in an effort to get that number up (again). For instance by reworking the new player experience, but also by taking a few tiny babytsteps towards reigning in griefing - such as the removal of the insurance payout for ships used in a suicide gank, and some other things.

I don't think 'eve without griefing' will necessarily succeed against Eve Online. SW:TOR isn't doing all that great I think..?

Anonymous said...

I have been playing since 2005 and in that time I have watched CCP focus more and more on bringing warfare into hisec. Which kind of defeats the purpose of hisec. What imho they should have done is concentrate more on getting people into low sec. At the moment there is very little reason for a new player or small corp to go near low sec. It is certain death to most newer players.

Eve is becoming a playground for idiots and I am beginning to take no pleasure from interacting with them. In ten years, if EVE is still going it is going to be one big clusterf*** of sociopaths.