Monday, April 30, 2007


The last few days in EVE have been exceptionally flawless technically, even if I did lose another Thorax. In fact, it was a miscalculation on my part, an inaccurate assessment of my survival risks. Getting another Thorax fitted, ready to run missions, and insured at Bronze Level basically wiped me out financially, so I've been running Level 2 missions and I'll probably continue to for a while. In the meantime, however, my three AU Basic PvP Class-ready frigs and all the extra mods I bought for them are still sitting at the staging station, waiting for the next time the class will be held, in slightly less than two weeks. Of course, this time I'll be ready, my net connection will be ready, and I won't be living on pain medication...all of which are very good things.

I had an interesting in-game conversation earlier today with someone who's a pirate, but who I don't think is a Privateer about the pros and cons of the recent wardec nerf. This person apparently feels it's going to hurt the game, while I feel what CCP did was exactly the opposite, an action taken to protect the game and its accessibility to new players. To be honest, I really don't want to get back into this topic full-bore as I think I've covered it and stated my opinion pretty well, but I will say this. something else I've said here before, but which I don't think enough players understand is key here:

First and foremost, EVE is not a game, but entertainment media, a commercial product which is intended to make a profit for the company that creates it, CCP. If EVE succeeds in this, it will continue to grow and improve...if not, it will wither and die. This has nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, to do with the actual quality of the game or how much we love it as players. It has everything to do with basic economic reality: If it sells, it lives, and if it doesn't, it dies.

In this way, it's really no different from the business I'm in, or trying to be in, anyway. As regular readers have probably picked up from my references, I'm a radio talk show host. The kind of show I do is very specialized, especially intended for a specific kind of listener but also designed to be accessible to everyone who cares to take the time to listen. In order for me to be successful in doing this professionally, I need three things:

First, I need to be good. In fact, I need to be better than most. I am.

Second, I need someone in the business who thinks I'm good enough to hire. That, I've got.

The third part is harder: a media company that's willing to take a chance on funding a genre of radio that's largely untested in the commercial market. Finding that is the job of the guy who will be my boss, and it's finding the right business partner that's what's really taking the time here.

To translate this into EVE terms, let's start with this reality that every professional mediamaker of any stripe understands:

Media consumers are unbelievably fickle. The average gamer (online or otherwise), properly motivated, will be just as quick to bail on any given game they lose interest in as the average radio listener will be to bail on any given show that they find boring or less interesting than another. The real difference here, if there can honestly be said to be one, is only in the amount of time it takes for the consumer to "change the channel". The way to combat this is in radio is the very same as it is in gaming: Generating and maintaining a high level of consumer loyalty.

I remember a conversation I once had with a radio professional about getting myself hired in the business, at a major radio provider. He told me something that proved to be right on the money, that his company would be happy to put me on the air as a guest on their shows because I'm damn good, but he doubted that they'd ever offer me a real job because I was just too different from everything that had gone other words, as a guest I was attractive because I was new and interesting (not to mention free to the company), but they'd never actually hire me, because I was TOO new and interesting. How fucked up is that?

This kind of thing definitely applies to EVE as well. Many people download the trial, but how many actually subscribe as a result and how many decide for themselves that EVE just isn't for them, that it's just TOO new and different to actually invest money in? When one looks at the playerbase of WoW and compares it against EVE's, it's pretty clear that EVE caters to a playerbase as specialized as the listenerbase which my show and network do, with much the same results. It doesn't take a game with almost 35 times the playerbase as EVE's to tell me what I've known for years: Media which strays less from the familiar, the tried and true, will be more successful than that which breaks new ground.

So how does a host like me or a game like EVE, both of which break new ground in our respective fields, develop loyal consumer bases? First, we gotta get them to the door...things like free trials and active mainstream and guerrilla promotional activities help with that. Once we got 'em at the door though, we gotta keep 'em there.

For me, as for EVE, you either like what you get or you don't. You like, you stay, you don't, you leave and move on...if enough people stay, it's a success, if not...

In both cases, it all happens early. Chances are, you'll know if you like me and my radio show after just a little while of listening, and a similar amount of time is needed for a new player to figure out if EVE is for them or not. That's why, just as it's critical for me to make my show as accessible to someone who's never heard it before as it is to someone who listens every week, so too does EVE need to be as accessible and fun to play for someone who's been playing for two hours as it is for someone who's been playing for two years. Different play styles, different reasons for listening, sure, but it all has to meet in the middle to accomplish the key goal of both: entertainment...without that, neither can succeed.

That's why CCP needed to do what they did to the wardecs, to protect the game and keep it interesting and fun for players of all skill and experience levels. It's not just good for the game, it's absolutely essential for its continued survival. To all you PvP purists complaining about this, I ask you to consider this question and answer it honestly, whether publicly or just for yourself:

Which would you rather have: A game that has safe, protected areas for new players to learn the game or a game which loses money and eventually goes under, rendering all players equal in the complete and total loss of a pastime we all love?

I know what my answer to that question is, and I hope yours is much the same.

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