I normally don’t participate in Blog Banters, but this one kinda intrigued me mostly because it ties in to something I was already thinking about. I belong firmly in the camp that EVE has peaked long ago and there will not be any significant increase in subscribers unless something major is done. Why? To me the answer is obvious and simple : the current playerbase.
Over the years, EVE has collected and distilled the scum of the internet into one convenient location. EVE’s reputation as a harsh, no-holds-barred game has naturally attracted (and retained) only 2 kinds of player, the griefer or the people that accept the presence of griefers and are able to deal with them. In my case, I am pretty anti-social and so I tend not to have any dealings with them at all if I can help it. Other games also have asshats, but EVE is pretty unique in that asshattery is not only allowed, it is actually EXPECTED and the game mechanics themselves serve to protect griefers.
Troy Wexler’s story is such a typical one that it serves as a perfect case study. I can just imagine an entire corp thinking “yeah if we work together we can fight them off!” especially if they have been taken in by EVE’s “you can make a difference” marketing. But any experienced player knows that trying to fight back against high-sec griefers that shoot MTUs or can flip or steal mission items is just a lose-lose situation. Even if you succeed in refitting to a PVP ship and killing them, it means nothing and will just encourage them to reship and come back in a neverending cycle of badgering and annoyance. CONCORD in high-sec does nothing except help blow up random newbies, the only defense against gankers is to not be there.
Thus anyone who comes into the game thinking they are going to be a white knight, and hunt pirates, or tries to fight back will eventually be driven into frustration by griefers that know how to exploit high-sec mechanics for their own protection much better than their victims. EVE will never be a “social” game that a group of friends can jump into, because it’s so easy for a small group to be completely shut down by random griefer corps.
There are other reasons too, mainly being time commitment. I can sort of see the expense argument too, since EVE has such a long time frame and really does become much more playable with multiple accounts that it really seems to lock you in to paying multiple $15 subscriptions for extended times. Unlike other MMOs, you can’t just unsub when you’re not playing much only to resub later because of the feeling that you’re wasting skill point training time. Of course I’ve only ever given CCP one payment of $15 and have been PLEXing both accounts ever since, but it’s pretty obvious that most people do pay with RL cash for at least one of their accounts.
It’s such a pity too because at it’s heart EVE is such a complex, deep and beautiful game. It’s pretty well balanced and has interesting gameplay strategies too involving different classes of ships and tactics. Too bad it all lies behind a great wall of gankers and griefers, all shouting that they want the sandbox to remain the way it is, i.e. they have all the power to go around kicking in sandcastles without any consequences whatsoever. I can’t remember where I read it now, but someone also made an interesting comment that another problem is that the existing playerbase has been given proof multiple times that if they kick and scream enough, CCP will cave in to them because EVE is their golden goose. Much like a screaming spoilt 2 year old, the EVE community now uses any excuse to violently oppose any change that would lessen their ability to abuse newcomers to the game.