Monday, February 9, 2009

The Way Forward

EVE Online has bridged a significant gap amongst MMOs. I don’t mean eclipsing the peak concurrent user record for simultaneous players on a single server: >51,000!

What I’m referring to is CCP’s success at moving massively multiplayer games into an increasing variety of media outlets that actively involve players. This creates a self reciprocating synergy that grows immersion and popularity of the product.

Not only do we explore, research, build, buy, sell, hunt, kill and explode inside a single massive multiplayer server galaxy…but we also Facebook, blog, YouTube, teamspeak, twitter, killboard, web radio and now: EVE TV!

This weekend’s Alliance Tournament VI broadcast on EVE TV was a spectacular venue to watch and listen to EVE commentators, developers and players taking part in an exciting culmination of the Swiss-style tournament.

CCP flew well known players to Iceland to commentate and interact with developer staff. The studio, camera settings, in game video and graphics overlays were very well done considering this is not the full time medium CCP operates in. And you have to appreciate the videos interspersed throughout the tourney coverage. They were great.

Rebroadcasts of memorable footage from 2008 Fan Fest was mingled with insightful interviews of various developer staff at CCP in their office spaces. CCP Soundwave did a terrific job coordinating interviews and showcasing information about the upcoming Apocrypha expansion.

Taking questions from players on IRC chat as well as those from the in studio guest players, we got to hear a lot of new information about not only what we’ll see in EVE after 10March, but also how it is designed, developed and what might come in the future.

On the in-game Alliance Tournament chat channel there were grumblings from a few about not being interested in how CCP utilized the new program management styles, SCRUM and AGILE to bring Apocrypha to light, but I found it fascinating and I’d like to make a few points about this well put together piece.

How many WoW or Everquest players would give their eye-teeth to get a fraction of the developer interaction with their communities that we enjoy in EVE? A lot. And when was the last time you saw Blizzard or Sony present any significant information about the inner workings of their development houses with the kind of transparency that CCP embraces?

You’ve heard it before and this weekend displayed it again: CCP has an out of the box approach to developing, marketing and interacting with a customer community that the rest of the industry should pay attention to.

The MMO business started out as an unfettered, unexplored marketplace but it is evolving into an industry where competition is fierce and market share is fought hard for. The behemoth in the room is currently unassailable due to its shear size and momentum. Ok, there is unlikely to be a game in the near future that will over take World of Warcraft for total subscriptions. But there are many healthy and viable companies that wax and wane versus one another. There is plenty of market out there to be had and it is still growing each year. The MMO company that is most innovative, knowledgeable and in touch with what the market wants (and delivers it) will seize a larger piece of the pie and retain it.

CCP is going above and beyond its competition by involving the community in ways the rest won’t. By building the kind of gritty daring game that is sought by players and not hobbling its product to large corporate ideas of politically correct market dynamics. CCP and EVE are not only pushing but blowing the envelope wide open when it comes to trying new things and involving players in exciting ways.

The Alliance Tournament VI was great. The coverage was amazing and the evidence that CCP is leading the charge into the future of MMOs is apparent.

That’s my (more than) 2 cents. Thanks for listening.


Mynxee said...

I thought CCP did a great job organizing and reporting on the AT. I'd never really followed it before this year, but having my own alliance in it of course created a momentum of interest. Imagine what that tournament had to cost to put on!!!

I hear a lot of people complain that CCP is distant from its players but I don't see that at all. They seem quite responsive and keenly interested in player opinion.

Diametrix said...

Thanks for the input, Mynxee. And congrats on that amazing capital kill!

My blog has not had as much poker fare of late as the ring games on EOH are still down.

Any news on when they might be back up?