How to Destroy The EVE Community

Today has been a day that will live in stupidity. I’m a fairly positive person about things, as those of you who listen to the podcasts can probably attest to, but even I can’t help but be a bit speechless when seeing the events of the last day unfold. The sheer mind-blowingness of the whole thing is force multiplied by a factor of a million monocles when one keeps in mind who are the ones responsible for it all. Lets look at what happened.

It started out with this un-stickied thread by CCP Pann, which grew into a threadnought of biblical proportions almost instantaneously:

Hi, everyone

Some of you who have been around for a while may remember me. I was the original community manager for EVE. These days, I oversee the PR and Community teams. While most of what I do happens behind the curtains, I am still aware of what’s going on front and center. I would be lying if I said that what’s happening now didn’t make me sad, but I’m not here to ask for your sympathy. To be perfectly honest, I’m here to buy time while we try to sort things out. No sense in lying about it so I’ll call a spade a spade.

It’s clear that many of you are <understatement alert> angry </alert>. There’s a lot happening, things are changing quickly and we haven’t been as forthcoming as you were used to in the past. I’m willing to step out front and take a lot of heat for that since I was the one who made the decision to hold off on responding for a while to see if things cooled down once the new wore off.

I was wrong to do that and I apologize. We should have said something much sooner. We should have done more to address your concerns and be forthcoming, even if we weren’t going to be able to immediately give you all of the answers you were looking for or the answer your questions in ways that will instantly turn those frowns upside down. To be even more candid, I cannot answer all of your questions, either, but I am working with the people who can to start getting those answers for you. Again, I know we’re doing this past the expiration date of your patience but I hope you’ll bear with me.

I know that, with very few exceptions, most of you don’t know me from Adam. I haven’t earned your trust or respect; therefore I have no right to ask anything of you – but I am going to try, anyway. Can I please count on at least some of you to help bring the pitchforks and torches down a few notches?

Like I said, I won’t be able to answer all of your questions tonight, but I promise we’ll start getting some info out tomorrow. As I see it, the chief complaint is regarding the high cost of goods in the Noble Market. Second, many people are unhappy about the Captain’s Quarters. Third, there are some performance issues with Incarna. I would appreciate it if you would confirm my observations or tell me what I’m missing, but I do ask that you do it in a productive way. I will remove posts without prejudice if they are counterproductive to the conversation I hope to have with you.

If you’ve read this much, thanks for staying with me. If you have something to say, I’d like very much to hear it.

Humbly yours,
~P~

Later that day, probably due to the writeup needing to run through the spanking machine of CCP’s communications and PR departments, we get this bit of damage control. No wait, that’s not it…  it’s just more uncontrolled damage:

Dear concerned citizens of New Eden

This week has seen quite a controversy unfold. In almost the same instant as we deployed Incarna – which by the way is one of our more smooth and successful expansions, not to mention absolutely gorgeous – an internal newsletter with rather controversial topics addressed leaked out. To further compound the confusion there was a clear and rather large gap in virtual goods pricing expectation and reality with a large segment of the community. I‘m going to address both these issues right here.

Fearless

Fearless is one of our company values. It‘s also the name of an internal newsletter that has been designed and developed specifically to catalyze discussions on controversial topics. One of the biggest elephants in the room these days, not just for EVE but for the gaming industry as a whole, is virtual goods sales and microtransactions.

Therefore we dedicated an entire issue to exactly that topic. It‘s worth mentioning that the topic of the issue was “Greed is good?” as a way to ask a question that would then be debated back and forth and often exaggerated purposefully to draw contrasts and make points. The result of that is now widely available on the internet.

The opinions and views expressed in Fearless are just that; opinions and views. They are not CCP policy nor are they a reliable source of CCP views as a company. The employees who submitted articles to that newsletter did exactly what they were asked to do, write about theories and opinions from an exaggerated stand.

While it‘s perfectly fine to disagree and attack CCP over policies or actions we take, we think it‘s not cool how individuals that work here have been called out and dragged through the mud due to something they wrote in the internal company newsletter. Seriously, these people were doing their jobs and do not deserve the hate and shitstorm being pointed at them.

Pricing structure

People have been shocked by the price range in the NeX store, but you should remember that we are talking about clothes. Look at the clothes you are currently wearing in real life. Do you have any specific brands? Did you choose it because it was better quality than a no-name brand? Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don’t need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don’t need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are.

We will gradually introduce items at other price points, definitely lower and probably higher than what‘s in the store today. We hope you enjoy them and are as passionate about them as you are of the current items that are for sale.

I hope I‘ve addressed your concerns and cleared up a lot of the issues you‘re having. We‘ll continue monitoring the forums and other communications channels and pick up and reply if there are concerns not covered by this blog.

Thanks,

Arnar Hrafn Gylfason

Senior Producer of EVE Online

And now the finale, delivered by none other than Hilmar himself, proving once again that community destroying business development tactics always come in threes:

Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 18:16:54 -0400
To: riverini@gmail.com
Subject: ccp ceo global msg sent today
From: evewatch@hush.com
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=.UTF-8.
Message-Id: <20110623221654.CF1E76F438@smtp.hushmail.com>

sent by hilmar to ccp global list-

(strt)

We live in interesting times; in fact CCP is the kind of company that if things get repetitive we instinctively crank it up a notch. That, we certainly have done this week. First of we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.

Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.

This we have done after months of research by a group of highly competent professionals, soliciting input and perspective from thought leaders and experts in and around our industry. We have communicated our intention here internally in very wide circles through the Virtual Economy Summit presentation at the GSM, our Fearless newsletter, sprint reviews, email lists and multiple other channels. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.

We went out with a decisive strategy on pricing and we will stay the course and not flip flop around or knee jerk react to the predictable. That is not saying nothing will change, on the contrary, in fact we know that success in this space is through learning and adapting to _what is actually happening_ and new knowledge gained in addition to what we knew before and expected.

All that said, I couldnât be prouder of what we have accomplished as a company, changing the world is hard and we are doing it as so many times before! Stay the course, we have done this many times before.

(end)

I know it’s been said a lot before around the EVE forums, and I’ve echoed the sentiment myself frequently over the past bunch of years: CCP is disconnected from its community. It’s done so in the hopes it can garner more attention from the media and prospective subscribers, to attract more MMO fans over to a wonderful world filled with spaceships, dedicated players, and a fully realized universe driven by the actions of its players.

It looks like the trailers were right after all: the smallest of your actions do resonate and affect thousands of players. Lets see how these ones resonate.

Sources:

Michael Lastucka

Also known as Winterblink in-game. Warp Drive Active's overlord.

  • Mikejr

    Already unsubbed. Fukkum.

  • I’m with you, Blinky, I want to see what happens. I don’t go for knee jerk reactions.

  • Mordan Vimes

    I saw the same kind of flailing stupidity back in November 2005 with SOE and their New Game Experience.

    It did not go well then.

  • other than the over-priced crap on the noble shop, I don’t see what everyone’s blowing their fucking top over. Well maybe the CQ thing is understandable, sorta…

  • Cyras DeValera

    /agree with Blink.. hard to not just click “cancel subscription”..

    .. well not that hard, I’ve been playing off PLEX for years now. Still.

  • …why should i keep spending my precious time building castles in a companys sandbox that has lost my trust ?

    I dont mind incarna, i dont mind vanity items, but what i do mind is the additude ccp has shown us.

  • BitVet

    Unsubbed 3 accounts.All 30+ mil sp’ers.

    I don’t really care about the MT vanity garbage , but the loathsome way we are looked at by CCP , makes me furious.

    It sucks , because at the core I absolutely adore this game and have made many friends from all over the globe.

    Time to find a new timewaster I spose.

  • kk

    Unsubbed since 3 years back. RL issues. Am i wrong in assuming that this rage quitting is because of perceived PLAY to WIN coming in and because of that people are quitting.

  • SHADOWVOX

    I’m with you on this one Blinky. They do seem to be a bit disconnected to the community and this past week has really shown that. But, I am still not sure how this will effect the game. I am going to stick around for a while and see how it all plays out.

  • Cor’len

    Unsubbed myself – have played since Nov ’04.

    CCP has pulled many dumb stunts before, but the last few weeks just takes the cake.

  • xithyl

    PROTEST SCREENSHOTS : http://xithyl.xi.funpic.de/Moneytrading-Protest.html (Please send a donation to “Yoshiko Sakakibara” if you like the screenshots!)

  • Latrodanes

    I’ve cancelled my four accounts which I have had for about three years.

    = c.36 Monocles so far

    Bye, bye CCP.

  • Wizardling

    CCP stated they only care about player actions, so I’m taking the only reasonable step in response: I’ve unsubscribed and will spend my remaining time protesting and disrupting Eve as much as possible.

    After which I plan to spend the following six months or so enjoying other MMOs and games for a change. Then I’ll check back on Eve to see if CCP have stopped trying to destroy the sandbox and shit all over their most loyal customers. If as expected they continue doing so, I’ll move on for good.

    It’s simply less painful than watching Eve be ruined by RMT and WIS with the sole purpose of enabling said RMT.

  • Dalmont Delantee

    First: Long time no see Winterblink! I remember Pann from back in the day and your Pann comic :P

    Agree with you, the knee jerk reaction is bad, and I haven’t unsubbed yet, but if they do bring in pay to win thats when I will do it. When I saw Zulu’s post it was the most painful thing I’ve seen in ages, it was like I had been dumped, but by saying they were going out with someone else other than telling me it was over :P But I’m better now :P

  • I too have unsubbed. I’ve not really been playing since last November, just burning skills. Was going to pull the plug in March but then a friend talked me into keeping my account alive then. I’m detached enough from the game that I don’t care about the NEX or Incarna and was just amused at the big threadnaught that Pann started, but then when Zulu’s blog came out and the only way I could interpret what he said was “sit down and shut up, you whiners!” that attitude put me over, so I unsubbed then. Now that I’ve seen Hilmar’s email I’m even less inclined to go back.

    Zulu’s posted another blog apologizing for his tone in the 1st one, at least, but the 2nd blog doesn’t actually say anything either so. . . . Too little, too late.

  • fail

    mass rage quit over optional DECORATIVES? CCP aren’t the only ones who fail, probably not the hardest even. I’m going to do the smart thing – ignore the shit and keep playing this game, because there’s no other like it and it’s still the best ass kicker in the known real universe.

  • Herp to the Derp

    I laughed at all the emotion being displayed in response to CCPs “leaked memo”. I knew from the beginning this was a clear case of misunderstanding. Even a casual unbiased observer could see that this “memo” was anything but.

    CCP had no idea the community was going to think they were going play to win (micro transaction) from this “leaked memo” . They acted appropriately by convening the CSM and clearing the air.

    Pretty funny how foolish the CSM felt. The best complaint they had was “Well, CCP Zulu should have said something sooner. I mean, how were we supposed to know know they weren’t full bore on pay to win?”.

    Sometimes people need to use their Hippocampus instead of their Amygdala.