What the CCP layoffs and refocus tell us

Is it just me, or is this good news if you are an EVE player? Yes, it sucks for whoever got laid off, and it sucks for WoD fans, but aren’t all the recent issues around EVE due to the fact that CCP lost its focus?

This also puts things somewhat into perspective; if 120 people make up around 20% of your company, that means EVE has been so successful since 2003 that it built a company of around1000 people. The game, in short, is a gold mine, and unlike another, much larger gold mine, it’s still growing year to year.

You would be insane to screw with that, and CCP, for a while, was just that. It sounds like they have taken their meds and returned to sanity. Now let’s see the results in action when the winter expansion is released.

On a higher level, I’m glad at least CCP has realized that if you get an MMO right, and I mean really right, you don’t have to abandon it after a few days/months/years. That if you play things right, you can keep updating and adding on to what you have, and players will reward you with the kind of loyalty EVE has enjoyed.

Today far too many devs AND players approach MMOs like you would a flash game; something to entertain you for 5 minutes before you twit to the next one. That’s not what real MMOs are about, and I’m glad at least one company gets it and is rewarded for that approach.

23 Responses to What the CCP layoffs and refocus tell us

  1. That is one of the “hard” things for a lot of business. You have a successful product or product line and now you want to work on a second.

    The whole “two successful product lines” used to be the threshold for going public pre-Netscape. After that, we entered the “success optional” era for going public.

    The company has to actually come up with a decent second product. They have to execute on their idea. They have to define success before hand in terms of the new product alone, not based on what the old product did. And they have to keep the old product alive and running because it is where all the money comes from.

    I have been at companies that have failed on some or all of those items.

    And, as a bonus, the company has to resist the temptation to prioritize the current successful product ahead of everything else. I have heard “you cannot borrow that engineer because he works on the product that makes all the money” before.

    The path to success is like a sandbox with landmines… or something.

  2. Nils says:

    I wish them all the best. And they better remember that there are advantages and disadvantages of having enthausiastic followers instead of apathetic customers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why did you stop playing Eve?

  4. Adam says:

    Layoffs at this point in the global economy are a pretty shitty thing to do. I feel bad for the Whitewolf people and would -much- prefer that Eve had never gone down the WoD road in the first place or they just moved all the WoD people to Dust514 and Eve.

    I am happy they are dropping WoD for now though.

    Launching 2 major MMO(type) games (which meant developing 3 simultaneously) at once was less than sane.

    Given that Secret World is launching in 2012 with similar themes (and given that I, at times, forgot which was which) it’s best to let Secret World flame out and die. While some of the writing has promise Secret World looks to add nothing to the genre that I can see gameplay-wise.

    WoD sounds more interesting with some Eve-lite elements in it that I think could introduce some positives to the currently pathetic (non-Darkfall) MMO world.

    Dust514 is much more significant as a game in that it builds on the existing universe of Eve. A universe that got there in the first place by long steady development and expansion.

    Jeopardizing the potentially epic future of Eve/Dust514 for emo vampire game seemed unwise.

    Some people are legitimately worrying about the success of a PS3 only Dust514 launch.

    I am relatively sanguine about this. As long as they don’t cripple the PS3 players with bad joystick/autoaim controls, it will be relatively easy to introduce a PC version 6+ months later and get an almost guaranteed 100k Eve subscribers (regardless of how it does on PS3).

    The PS3 Dust514 controls issue is key. It will cause major drama if PC players are as instantly dominant over their PS3 rivals, as is normally the case. Given how much better PC players/controls are at FPS games this is likely without very careful planning. If Dust514 PS3 has PS3Move controls and optional plugin keyboard/mouse it will be possible for PS3 people to remain competitive.

    If they don’t deal with the control issues, the options are bad. Split the communities? Let PS3 players just get owned by mouse/keyboard PC players? Gimp the PC version, thus guaranteeing its unpopularity with PC gamers?

    Rough road if they aren’t careful.

  5. Brindle says:

    Actually they have (had) 600 personnel. 20% of that is 120 laid off.

  6. 600 people working on just Eve?

    Wow.

    That’s many more than I would have expected.

  7. Bronte says:

    Eve is amazing. It is tough, it is hardcore, and it is unforgiving, but it is amazing. I am really glad to see that CCP has moved away from trivial and useless content updates to more useful content oriented approach, although I think the layoffs are unfortunate.

    Pilots, time to harden the fuck up (epic CCP video)
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgvM7av1o1Q)
    :

  8. Tobold says:

    it’s still growing year to year

    Why do you keep repeating this lie? We all know EVE lost 20% of their players this year. It has less players now than a year ago.

    • SynCaine says:

      What “we all know” seems to escape you when it comes to EVE.

      Every. Single. Time.

      And not that this is the greatest source or anything (that’s sarcasm) but from the linked article in this post, from the CEO of the company:

      “First, EVE Online is in good health. Our subscriber numbers are higher today than they were a year ago. Unlike many other MMO’s on the market, we have continued to grow year-on-year since launch in 2003. However, over the past two months, our subscribers have gone down from their peak this summer. We attribute this to our own mistakes and poor communications with our players. We are correcting that now.”

      • Anti-Stupidity League says:

        Ah, but you see, what you have there are facts. You can’t use facts when talking with Tobold, they just confuse him.

  9. Tobold says:

    So you believe a CEO of a company that is known to have lied in the past more than independant data? Everybody who actually tried to MEASURE EVE activity data finds that there is less activity than a year ago. Maybe there are still some inactive players on subscriptions that are running out being counted, but EVE is definitely dying.

    • SynCaine says:

      No I totally believe randoms from the Internet who ‘math up’ subscriber numbers because they are mad about a monocle over someone who has access to said numbers and directly talks about them.

      And yea, according to Xfire or other ‘math it up’ sites, EVE is totally dying. Just dropping off a cliff WoW-style. And will no doubt continue that WoW-like decline even when CCP starts to release the content people want. Hey, maybe CCP will pull a Blizzard and the winter expansion will be Cataclysm.

      They are also the first MMO to ever count paying subs that are inactive. How dare they! Good thing absolutely no one else in the industry does such a shameful thing. I bet they even count alt account subs too, those evil bastards!

      It really does kill you that a mega-niche game, one that plays like Excel with neg-sum PvP spaceships, outperforms all but one of the games you prefer, huh? You are going to be really miserable when SW fails, WoW continues it’s death spiral, and the MMO-lite genre is declared dead.

      Facebook might be your only hope then.

      Oh wait.

      Nevermind.

    • Just for clarification, when did Hilmar lie? I can recall him saying lots of stupid things, but I cannot think of an outright lie, so could you point me towards that please?

  10. Tobold says:

    I am quite willing to bet you that CCP goes bankrupt in 2012. You might want to interpret their “great success” how ever you like, but financial reports don’t lie.

    • Syncaine says:

      Troll rate now over 9000.

      Going to have to remember this one.

    • Noizy says:

      Financial reports may not lie, but with the layoffs and the announcement of putting WoD in the back of the closet, the conditions that existed back in June no longer apply and all numbers must now be recalculated.

      I’m sure right now a lot of Eve players are recalculating the numbers to see how the layoffs have affected CCP’s profitability. We will probably see some posts next week with some analysis.

      By the way, how do I get in on that bet? CCP will not go bankrupt in 2012.

  11. katsuko says:

    All we know is that player activity has declined from an all-time high during early Spring 2011 back down to roughly Fall 2010 levels, and now appears to be on the rise again. Historically, player activity in EVE has tended to track subscription counts, but we have not had any new information in that regard for a long time now, so it may not be wise to assume that the relationship between the two has not changed since last year.

    Some people, including certain gaming sites that should know better, keep pointing to a snapshot of Jester’s (of the Jester’s Trek blog) graph as though it shows a drastic decline in subscription numbers following Incarna. But the drop must be viewed in the context of an equally large increase in subscriptions in the preceding months. So even if we assume that player activity tracks subscription numbers very closely, EVE’s subscription levels now would be higher than they were at the beginning of the year.

    Only CCP knows how many subscribers it has, and what the activity levels for those accounts truly are. Matter of fact, even the available player activity measures are hardly meaningful, since they merely show the maximum number of concurrent users online on a given day.

  12. katsuko says:

    @Tobold:

    Except, of course, that CCP remains an extremely profitable company, with a rather healthy cashflow and quite limited liabilities. And a company which cuts staff is not inherently in trouble; far from it, such a decision shows that senior management is aware of potential problems down the road. CCP is cutting back on non-essential staff, it is not cutting significantly into its development resources, nor randomly firing people to preserve its balance sheet. But I’m sure you’d already know that from diligently reading through that financial statement before making such a sweeping pronouncement.

    • Anonymous says:

      I read the financial statement and see nothing that I would claim as extremely profitable. They have a loan coming due and actually limited cashflow.

  13. [...] Friday and Tobold has made a prediction for the 2012 MMO market over in the comment thread over at Hardcore Casual: I am quite willing to bet you that CCP goes bankrupt in 2012. You might want to interpret their [...]

  14. [...] and Fallen Earth, Perpetuum and Wurm Online. Soon we will no longer have Star Wars Galaxies, or, if Tobold is right, EVE Online. If you care about immersive virtual worlds, those are the games you should be playing. [...]

  15. [...] my posts tagged with SW:TOR. I may not have been as ahead of the curve as former MMO blogger “EVE is dead in 2012” Tobold, but 2009 is a decent start [...]

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