Eve Online is a very complex game. Flying spaceships is easy enough, flying them well is harder than you think. But playing Eve is more than just flying spaceships. It’s a game where you have a ton of information hidden in the myriad interfaces that CCP has provided. Sifting through the information can be taxing. Research, manufacturing, market trading, planetary interaction, corporate management to name a few, playing Eve (the Spreadsheet Game) is Hard.
And while the new player is trying to find a happy medium between flying spaceships and getting their Microsoft Excel Certification, they have to deal with the biggest hurdle in the game: other players.
The greatest challenge to New Players in Eve Online are Eve Veterans. A new player can expect to be disinformed, scammed, robbed, ganked, and in general, abused by the Eve Veteran within days of starting to play. Eve players take great pleasure in the idea that new players need to suffer though all the same hardships that they went through.
Some would call it a Right of Passage. I call it Hazing, or even Bullying. In the United States, there are laws prohibiting it. In Eve Online, it’s the prevailing culture.
I’m sure that the handful of Eve Veterans who just read the above are rolling their eyes.
Don’t try to make my Sandbox a Theme Park, Bren. Eve is Real and newbies need to Harden The Fuck Up.
Roger that. Have a seat. Here’s some cocoa. Take your meds.
When I was in college, when asked why I never rushed a Greek fraternity, I just smiled. I really didn’t want to explain that the idea of standing outside of cafeteria, head shaved, barking like a dog for the entertainment of my future “brothers” just didn’t appeal to me.
Before you come at me in the defense of your college fraternity, understand that I know you love your brothers, but really, this isn’t about you.
I just believe is something innately wrong with a culture that instructs you to demean yourself in order for it’s members to accept you as their equal. I believe that if you want to be in a group, and the group has standards and encourages new people to work hard to meet them, people who want to join that group will work hard, if being part of that group is important to them. But if it involves pain or humiliation as a rite of passage, you can keep it.
Can a culture have clear standards and demand potential members meet that standard? Absolutely. Military organizations and adult fraternal organizations do so every day. But the culture of Eve is that of a society which makes a guy climb a cliff to prove his worth, while being shot at by veterans who laugh when he falls. It seems pretty dysfunctional to me.
I joke about Eve Online being a role playing game where everyone plays the same asshole. I don’t think anyone can deny that there’s some truth in that.
Now imagine for a moment how tough it must be to be a game developer at CCP. How do you encourage new people to try your game when it’s players are just jerks? If you tell the guys who have been playing since beta that they need to be nice, you lose revenue from subscriptions when they quit. If you let them treat newbies like crap, you lose revenue from subscriptions when they quit.
Don’t get me wrong, CCP actually encourages those same Eve veterans to be jerks, because it makes the game more dramatic than any reality TV show. Go figure. But they need to improve subscriber retention somehow.
New players. New blood. Profit.
Maybe in order to encourage new players to try out your game, you need to make it easier to access. Maybe you need to separate the new player from the hardened veteran somehow. Make it easier for them to start to like the game without dealing with the guys who chase newbies away.
Maybe you put your development dollars into developing a F2P console version of Eve.