We’re sorry – no really

For those of you who may not be aware of it, CCP, who develop and publish Eve online  has laid off 20 percent of it’s work force.  Sort of ironic that this is the same amount of players they recently lost.   What has me upset about this is more why anyone at CCP had to lose their job.  As I have seen as a project manager with more than 20 years experience it may be the guy (or woman) at the top who makes the colossal mistake but it is the work-a-day front line employees who pay for the mistake. The recent “apology” by Hilmar Veigar Petursson, CEO of CCP leaves us with one basic lesson that screams itself across the rooftops…

In any business, if you are going to have an attitude like you are the 800 pound gorilla on the block you had better damn well BE the 800 pound gorilla on the block.

And even Blizzard has a hard time pulling that off these days.  While the apology seems less than sincere after one’s attitude has lost 20 percent of the player base, it seems even less sincere now – but for many reasons.  First, in business, my thought has always been that anyone who wants to lay off employees should start with their own job.  Another, and much lesser factor, is the way that CCP announced their intent to modify the game mechanic planetary action – it wasn’t discussed it was just simply thrust upon the players.  Here is a telling reaction from the forums:

I dislike ccp saying we thinking of this then after negative comments saying well this is how it is, its already done for deployment. This could have severe impacts on the economy and ccp has not sampled a large enough player base.  – Pat Irvam

Only Mr. Petursson himself will know how sincere the apology was, but I not only agree with Pat Irvam’s take, but it seems that as a corporate entity they should have added two words onto the end of the apology…

NO REALLY.

Obviously no one expects all the developers out there to check with the player base every time they make a change to the game.  But this isn’t just any developer and this isn’t just any mmo.  There are no other MMOs quite like Eve Online and none of them enable the player base to shape the virtual world through emergent gameplay quite like this one. We understand from our recent discussions with Tipa from West Karana, Steve Jobs never used focus groups I will just bet Mr. Jobs had a much better feel for his market than CCP has for theirs.  Basically what it comes down to is this – when you are walking on thin ice already you don’t start stomping around.   Focus and focus groups should have been the words of the day. It’s nice to have a vision but when you market any product you must first make sure that product meets the needs of the consumer, not try and get the consumer to accept your vision of the way things should be done.  And while there are those who will say at this juncture “hind sight is 20-d0″ the fact of the matter is that we have been saying this about CCP for the last three years.

About Planetary Interaction

I will let  you google the planetary interation game mechanic yourselves, but basically it puts all of the control of low security and null security planetary interaction firmly in the  hands of large corporations and veteran players. And in the process kicks the new players to the curb.  Hopefully Dust 514 will change that, and I am sure CCP is hoping it will.  But limiting it to just the PS3 is a decsion they will doubtless come to regret in months to come.

At first I thought I might be alone in my thinking about the new take on planetary interaction – until I went to the forums and saw page after page of  what follows.  Perhaps its just me, but with the player base reacting the way they are, and the financial difficulties the company faces, it seems they can’t afford to tick off any more of their players.

Basicaly you have just anexed my sorce of income and given the keys to the biggest Alliance around……thanks for f**k all! – Scarlett Ninja

Well just the other day I was clicking clicking clicking while setting up new planets and wondering what was wrong with me. I kept thinking that any of my real life friends would think I was crazy to spend so much time doing something that wasn’t fun in any way shape or form. And now I find that there will be absolutely no profit in any of that work and I will lose my low sec planets as well.

Thanks for giving me some good motivation for canceling my three accounts CCP!  – Dalloway Jones
 
I’m sorry, while this sounds like an interesting ideal, I don’t think CCP has the ability to roll this out and not completely f’up the entire PI base. Look at the initial PI introduction and the problems and bugs that came with it. Do you really think they have the skill and patience to actually properly test this on SiSi like none of their other expansions-with-bugs.

CCP’s history of rife with introduction and disinterest of new features. They like to start something but become bored with details and move to the next shiny new thing. The tax situation and roles are complicated and will need constant tweaking. I’m afraid this will be another faction war roll out. They will put it in there with all sorts of grand promises of doing something to tweak and fix but it will never occur. How many years has it been since anything was done to FW and now it is a place to get LP.

I especially find humorous the ideal that defense will be “new corporations coming together”. They blatantly admit that there is no way to defend or prevent massive griefing and they “hope” the solution is people play well together. They don’t see the irony in the current super-cap cluster blobs that roam around without any counter. I guess PL sitting in low sec with all their supers will play nice with the local corps wanting to do PI…maybe those small corps can come together and try to convince 1 super cap pilot to go agaubst the PL fleet in defense

This seems targeted at the oldest and largest alliances, this is a huge buff for them and a shot in the nuts for everyone else. I like how this is admitted with the statement “the small guy should use CONCORD owned custom offices.” CCP knows these small guys will leave low sec now and fill the population of empire dwellers, leaving null and low even less populated.
 
- Buruk Utaa
 
 Great, so now someone who runs PI in a quiet low sec system on a small scale basis is screwed.
Now they have to put up PI structures within said quiet low sec system, with a “blow me up” sign on them.

Small scale low end PI in low sec is now dead for small corps.
Once again, CCP has developed something for the huge alliances, and screwed the little guy.

It is one thing to dodge the gankers in low sec to do PI, it quite another to fight alliances.

All hail the megacorps and mega alliances.
 
- Dinsdale Pirannha
 
Some final words: this NOT a good change, but I’m very glad that you have posted a public discussion about it way before the deployment. If you want more inter-player interaction to expand the sandbox and give players the possibility to prosper even if they are not members of large alliances, you’ll have to find a way to give freedom to the players and limit corporate monopoly over every single industrial activity in the game. (like mentioned, inter-command center transfers between players and ways to collaborate on the planet on player-to-player level).

Btw. do you think that Gallente ice prices are scary just because of a couple of days of suicide gankings? Deploy this change to PI as a permanent feature and see what happens to the economy.

Definitely not supported.
 
- The Offerer
 
Basicaly you have just anexed my sorce of income and given the keys to the biggest Alliance around……thanks for f**k all!
- Scarlett Ninja
 
I dislike ccp saying we thinking of this then after negative comments saying well this is how it is, its already done for deployment. This could have severe impacts on the economy and ccp has not sampled a large enough player base.  – Pat Irvam

 

 

 

 

6 Responses to We’re sorry – no really
  1. Stabs
    October 19, 2011 | 9:57 pm

    Ha ha, sorry to have been so contrary recently but I’m actually in favour of these changes.

    I do ninja PI with 5 alts, I really like it and I see these changes as an opportunity to make even more money as my competitors fall by the wayside.

    It’s a dog-eat-dog universe.

  2. Sr. Julie
    October 20, 2011 | 7:11 am

    So you say you ninja pi? Not any more you don’t. As soon as this goes through that will end all low sec and nul sec ninja pi – I think the author of the linked article is right in that regard.

  3. The financial realities of decline | Game Ninja
    October 21, 2011 | 7:01 pm

    [...] evident that EVE is steering in the right direction now, with lots of criticism of their new planetary interaction game mechanics. Add all this to a general decline of the MMORPG market and take the age of EVE into account, and [...]

  4. Hull
    October 23, 2011 | 7:14 am

    Firstly, Steve Jobs did use focus groups. Saying he never used them is a gross misquote. What he actually said was “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I can assure you he market tested all his products TO DEATH.

    As for PI, was it ever going to stay in its current state? My understanding was they were always planning on revising it down the line as Dust got closer to release. Anyway, if people want no-risk PIing, they can still do it. In Highsec. With people not bothing to continue their operations in lowsec/nullsec/WH space, chances are the prices of PI items will go up along with lack of supply, and they’ll still maintain their isk source. To me, this is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Still, pretty stupid of CCP not to actually test the waters with this change first! But thats what we’ve come to expect anyway?

  5. Sr. Julie
    October 24, 2011 | 5:58 am

    It seems that Tipa mislead us about focus groups (curse her for being human) but the principle still applies. The issue with Planetary Interaction in itself is not the major point. The point is that it exemplifies how CCP has traditionally related to the market. It is one thing to have a vision it is quite another to try and thrust it upon one’s clients whether they will have it or no. This is one time that a gaming corporation could have used a few more people in business suits that may not be gamers but know marketing.

  6. Hull
    October 24, 2011 | 6:36 am

    Yep, can’t agree with you more there Sr J!

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