Do We Have an Accord?

This is coming a bit late now but in case you haven’t been following things, CCP met with the CSM members on June 30th to discuss the recent troubles surrounding the recent addition of the Noble Exchange to the game. You can catch up on the background on the post here with the totally-not-inflammatory-title How to Destroy the EVE Community, but for now lets look at the output of the recent meeting.

We’re treated to two very different statements, one from CCP and one from the CSM. First, the CCP statement:

Statement on behalf of CCP from Arnar Hrafn Gylfason, Senior Producer for EVE Online

Following the series of events surrounding the launch of Incarna, CCP invited the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) to an extraordinary meeting in Reykjavik to discuss and address a variety of topics ranging from ship spinning to performance to virtual goods strategies. The discussions were very productive and both parties came to an understanding and agreement on key topics. That meeting has now ended and a firm resolution reached by both parties.

CCP acknowledges that the reaction following the leaked internal communication could have been handled better. Good communication and trust between CCP and the EVE community has always been a fundamental priority for CCP and will continue to be so.

It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.

The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time. The CSM, under NDA, has been presented with CCP‘s plans for continued evolution of the business model and agrees that nothing they saw breaks this principle. CCP has committed to sharing their plans with the CSM on this front on an ongoing basis.

CCP acknowledges that communication surrounding the launch of the virtual goods store should have been better. To address that, we will write up dev blogs that explain the pricing strategy of the NeX store and the price tiering system. We will also communicate that we intend to put the focus on further fleshing out the lower price range and give visual examples of upcoming items.

The CSM raised concerns with performance running multiple clients after the Incarna launch where the minimum hardware spec will only support one client logged in when in a station environment. CCP will work on creating a minimum hardware spec that supports multiple clients, but wants it to be clear that the current minimum specification aims at single client with low settings.

The CSM helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with „ship spinning”. They vehemently demanded the return of the feature, which CCP committed to introduce in some form at a future date. Until that functionality is added back in, the option to load station environments will remain in the Settings menu.

We are very happy with the results of the meetings and appreciate the commitment to EVE the CSM members have shown by attending the meeting on short notice.

Arnar Hrafn Gylfason
Senior Producer of EVE Online

And then we have the statement from the CSM:

Statement on behalf of the Council of Stellar Management from The Mittani, Chairman of CSM 6

The CSM came to Reykjavik for this extraordinary summit to address the cloud of suspicion and fear which has descended upon CCP and the EVE community in the aftermath of the Incarna expansion and the various internal leaks.

The issues we have addressed and discussed with CCP are:

Captain’s Quarters: We discussed the hardware and lighting issues within the CQ and we were satisfied that they were being addressed. We were pleased when Torfi announced that the current “Disabled Incarna Door” will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality and performance to the pre-Incarna Hangar, and this environment will be available until Incarna performance is similar to pre-Incarna performance. While the final details and timelines have not been worked out, ships will once again spin all over New Eden.

Noble Exchange Rollout Debacle: We were shocked and appalled to discover how badly the planning and implementation of the Noble Exchange was executed. Despite the fact that they did not have enough assets of the right types to do a proper rollout, they launched anyway. The CSM believes that if CCP had properly communicated the details of their vanity goods pricing strategy and had sufficient low-tier items available at launch, the controversy would have been greatly reduced. CCP will issue a dev blog in the near future explaining their vanity goods strategy and how it will be implemented in the Noble Exchange.

Game-affecting Virtual Goods: We are convinced that CCP has no plans to introduce any game-affecting virtual goods, only pure vanity items such as clothing and ship skins. We have been repeatedly assured that there are no plans for ‘gold ammo’, ships which have different statistics from existing common hulls, or any other feared ‘game destroying’ virtual goods or services. We have expressed our deep concern about potential grey areas that the introduction of virtual goods permits, and CCP has made a commitment to discuss any proposals that might fall into these grey areas in detail with CSM at the earliest possible stage.

The Fearless “Greed is Good?” Leak: We accept CCP’s position that Fearless is a deliberately controversial internal publication and does not represent the policy of CCP Management or of CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer of EVE Online, nor the direction of game design.

The Leaked Hilmar Global Email: We were appalled by the leaked Hilmar email and the atrocious and out-of-touch messaging it contained. We sympathize and agree with those players offended and disgusted by it.

Arnar (CCP Zulu)’s Angry Friday Blog: We were disappointed by the tone taken in Arnar’s Blog, but we understand that he was in a state of extreme agitation and reacting to the leaks coming from within his company, which he saw as a breach of trust. While we may disagree with some of his decisions, we are united in our support of Arnar as the Senior Producer, and were pleased with his followup Apology Blog. We hope that his statement today will begin to restore your trust in his leadership and vision.

We believe that the situation that has unfolded in the past week has been a perfect storm of CCP communication failures, poor planning and sheer bad luck. Most of these issues, when dealt with in isolation, were reasonably simple to discuss and resolve, but combined they transformed a series of errors into the most significant crisis the EVE community has yet experienced.

We hope that this meeting will be the first step in the restoration of trust between CCP and the EVE community, and we will keep the community informed as to CCP’s efforts in delivering on the commitments they have made to us and to you.

First off, I have to say that I’m entirely impressed with the current CSM. When the current group was announced it was easy to see that this CSM would be an effective one, and this kind of thing really shows that off. Their statement really is indicative of the feelings of the players that care even the tiniest bit about the game. In my opinion, this is what CSM is all about.

The CCP statement is a mixed bag for me. It’s a combination of “we think we get it now” type of stuff, mixed with a baffling lack of focus. I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are a hundred other things I’d rather like to see their development focus dedicated to resolving before even considering looking at ship spinning. Get a grip.

There is also a distinct lack of  attention paid to the elephant in the room: Hilmar’s e-mail. I’m just going to put it out there that no response to that in the CCP statement is unbelievably irresponsible. To be honest, I don’t think one can possibly ever undo that kind of thing anyway, but a response to it in some capacity would have been nice, rather than just a generic “derp, we suck at communicating” thing. Maybe a statement about the issue from the man himself is forthcoming, who knows.

In conclusion, I think these statements reflect that the emergency summit actually did manage to accomplish a lot. I think the point has been driven home to CCP that they need to connect more with players about these kinds of major changes to the game, although time will tell if we will see some actual beneficial changes to the way this interaction is carried out.

It should also show the players that their voice can count in times like these, and that this is totally unlike other games out there where your feedback will generally stop at the meatshield level (community forums and the people who moderate them). In no way do I intend to diminish the efforts of previous CSMs, but I have to really salute The Mittani and the rest of the current CSM with their ability to represent that feedback in an intelligent manner.

Click through to the dev blog to watch the video where the statement is discussed, and admire Mittens’ beard grooming skills.


Michael Lastucka

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