EVE: Overpopulating New Eden

EVE is still called a niche MMO, despite having more subs than most sub MMOs, and despite being the only MMO with sustained growth after 8+ years. Perhaps when people say niche, they mean that EVE is the only truly successful MMO long-term, but somehow I doubt that.

But what if EVE was not ‘niche’? What if it had 2m subs? 10m? What impact would that have on New Eden, its players, and CCP?

If EVE had 10m players, how many of them would be docked in Jita 4 4? If 400k gets you 1500ish in Jita today, 10m would mean 37k+ pilots all in one system. That might cause just a little bit of lag, or require TiDi to be turned up to 99.99% 24/7. Can you imagine the market volume?

This would also cause silly amounts of competition over fixed resources like wormholes, null-sec systems, and low-sec regions. If the goons today blob with 2k, the goons in a 10m sub MMO would bring what? How big would alliances or coalitions get? And while Mittens does a masterful job herding the CFC in its current size, would anyone be capable of herding THAT many people?

So perhaps a 10m New Eden would be home to a huge amount of ‘small’ Alliance, each with 4-5k members, and only capable of holding a system or two. Or maybe someone could unite a hundred thousand players under one banner, and raise the bar of entry to an impossibly high level.

Another aspect to consider would be market manipulation. Would this be possible in a 10m pilot world? If it could happen, the scale would be enormous, and the profits unimaginable. Some alliances in EVE today are already super-rich, but what if someone truly had almost unlimited resources? If controlling the Trit market today is impossible, what are the odds when the population increases 25x?

For CCP, 10m subs would of course raise revenue to crazy amounts as well. CCP already delivers more content/updates than anyone else in the genre, so what would things look like when given so many resources? Jita with 37k being technically possible, or more Incarna dreaming?

While I don’t believe EVE will ever reach 10m subs, if it continues growing like it has for 8 years, at what point does overpopulation kick in? 500k? 750k? 1m? And when it does, how will the players, CCP, and New Eden itself react?

18 Responses to EVE: Overpopulating New Eden

  1. gevlon says:

    The subscription number of EVE is largely inflated due to many players having more than one account.

    Also, I wouldn’t afraid of 37K in Jita. The reason they are there is trading. You make money from that as long as there isn’t big competition. The stellar ISK income of trading comes from the lack of competition. If there would be so many traders, mining veldspar would be more profitable.

    Finally, most MMO players are much more casual than an average EVE player. Adding 10 casuals who do some odd things in some obscure system gives smaller load than one hardcore who is where the action is.

    • Zyref says:

      The 37k number was talking about the technical feasibility of having that many players in a single system…

    • Shadow says:

      A good chunk of those multiple accounts are simultaneously logged in though. That still impacts the server just as much as individual people. Maybe even more, I’m not an expert in the area. Those no reason to think that the percentage of active game clients would change though, it’s usually around 10% of the total.

      As to the post’s question, 1million and it starts to feel crowded, but I’m one of those who believe space should be empty as a rule, not an exception.

  2. Werit says:

    Saw 1 alliance had 5.5k TRILLION isk in their wallet.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    To me, the term “niche” as it’s usually used in reference to MMOs implies specialization rather than size. In music the analagous term is “cult”.Cult bands like, for example, The Cure or The Grateful Dead can also have huge sales and draw large crowds to live performances.

    A niche MMO can be biggish, like EVE or very small, like Wurm. It’s the specificity of what the game is about that makes it niche. It’s also why monoclegate had such an impact last year. Had those plans been successfully implemented, EVE would arguably have been on the way to leaving its niche for a place in the mainstream.

    To sum up, niche is good, at least for the players who are comfortable in the niche.

    On a practical level, if EVE did magically expand to ten times its current population, would the much-vaunted Single Server World remain feasible? Or would there be ten EVEs?

  4. Hong WeiLoh says:

    And the part you left out, perhaps intentionally? but even more important and telling than anything else:
    Assuming that as subs grow, that constant “66% hisec dweller” ratio remains — how shitty is hisec gonna get? Not just Jita, but EVERY major missioning system and trade hub will be cram-packed by current standards.
    Asteroid fields, exploration sites, anoms, static DED plexes, all will be farmed within minutes of spawning. Competition will be extreme and “fierce” … well, as “fierce” as you can get without looting someone else’s wreck and goin flashy-shootable to EVERYBODY …

    Incursions are “competitive” even now…. imagine how much more competition there’ll be when there’s 10x as many people logged in.

    Overcrowding combined with no way to very literally “eliminate” the competition will possibly lead to even moar tears than were previously generated by gankers.

    One thing CCP apparently hasn’t thought out about this whole “moar subs, friendlier EVE” thing is WoW has 10M subs. WoW also has 10M servers.

    Of course, easy fix that “gives everyone what they want” (or at least appears to while completely missing the “point”): TQ goes carebear-friendly “consentual PvP only”, and SiSi goes from being the “test” server, to the “PvP server”.

    • Sand says:

      …if CCP takes that ‘easy fix’ idea and runs with it, i will straight internet-murder you into little tiny pieces for putting the idea in their heads. we’re going to have enough problems trying to keep sony from stirring their sticky fingers in our niche without you helping them.

      • Hong WeiLoh says:

        lol Hey, don’t try to murder the messenger, son. It’s not my fault I’m so prescient I make Paul Muad’Dib look like a 2-bit Vegas lounge act.
        Doesn’t even take Melange — just a lil fact-finding and application of common sense to said facts.
        And I’ll tell you right now–they’ve already had that idea long before I wrote that comment. ;-)

  5. katsuko says:

    CCP will simply add more systems. It’s not that difficult. The nice thing about the stargate/wormhole world system is that it is infinitely scalable. Azeroth can only expand along the four cardinal points; EVE can expand not only in three dimensions, but can also grow more dense at need, and can even add whole new ‘tiers’ of space (i.e. wormholes) along a fourth axis

    Server load is not a big issue. Jita is the only system hosted permanently on its own node. Most nodes host multiple systems, which is why time dilation will sometimes affect empty systems seemingly at random. As revenue from subscriptions increases, CCP will be able to afford more and better servers, especially since server costs benefit from economies of scale.

    That said, most of null is empty, and can definitely host two or even three times as many players as it does now. I was part of a “roam” a few days ago that went twenty-ish jumps beyond our home space without encountering a single hostile, aside from a handful of anomaly-runners who quickly POSed up, and who may or may not have been bots. A month ago I was in a small ragtag fleet which went almost 40 jumps through allegedly hostile space without encountering anyone at all. There are in general only a handful of nullsec regions in the game which are truly inhabited in any meaningful sense.

    A bigger concern, but one which can also be fairly easily addressed through competent forward-looking game design, is competition over fixed resources, mainly moon goo, but also high-sec asteroid belts. Supply of the rarest moon minerals has been static for years; I doubt very much if a single high-value moon has gone unexploited for more than a few days in the past five years. Meanwhile, demand for moon minerals has increased along with player activity. Ring mining, if it ever arrives and is properly implemented, will fix that issue.

  6. Devore says:

    There is a lot CCP would have to think about if their subs started pushing to 1M. Hi sec overpopulation would get crazy. They would need to add more systems in hi and low, null is virtually empty, but fleets would get much larger. Might be fine if computer hardware performance keeps up and CCP succeeds with some parallelization efforts. This would all be a massive boost to Euro time zone players, who will be the first ones to hit valuable fixed resources (static plexes, asteroids) that respawn after downtime, so maybe some more dynamic resource regeneration during regular hours will be needed.

    More importantly, what would happen to the community if there was to be an influx of new players?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why would it overpopulate?
    Not as though those 10mil in subs would drop out of the sky one day. EvE would change, maybe the secondary hubs would become more important as they move jita like volumes. Maybe new hubs would rise up or maybe hubs would not be as important due to the mass of good transferring in each system due to that level of population. Also by growing over time CCP can make eve bigger…new systems, new WH, new mechanics, new places for players to be.
    Projecting 10mil into eve today and extrapolating current trends won’t be accurate because the game would change.

  8. Bernard says:

    It’s a niche game because it does not try to address the entire MMO market.

    As other commenters have said, the technical aspects of having 10 million subscribers are not the most worrying. It is more a question of what compromises CCP have to make to gameplay in order to win 9.6mil new subscribers (or of course selling more accounts to “whales”).

  9. mbp says:

    Very Interesting concept to think about.

    One point worth remembering is that the New Eden universe is actually very big but most of the systems are deserted. There would be plenty of room fo more players if CCP could just get everybody to move away from the few hubs that curently attract most of the players in the game.

    I can think of a few ways ccp might achieve this. They could do it by creating more NPC hubs that have safe links between them (not through Rancer of Amamake!) and perhaps even introduce safe transport links (WTF do interbus do anyway?). If you didn’t have to go to Jita to make that trade then far fewer people would.

    A much more interesting concept however and more in keeping with the philosophy of the game would be to allow players to create their own new “high security” hubs. Imagine if a large alliance was allowed to turn a region in 0.0 into a new Jita and collect a tax on all transactions that take place there. Obviously it would need to be profitable for alliances so they need a way to get revenue from those who use the place. The alliance would also need assistance in policing – perhaps they could hire out Concord to do it.

    • Cyndre says:

      If any mechanic in eve removes the ability for me to attack you at anytime (your safe travel notion) eve ceases to be eve.

      To move players into deserted systems you just put valuable content there… Vanguards now only spawn in (insert backwater system name) now. Or add deadspace modules or a new mineral or 1000sthe of ways to push players where the developers want them to go, without changing the core design of the sandbox.

      • mbp says:

        I am not talking about removing the ability to attack someone – an alliance created “high sec” system would be no safer than Jita is now and probably less safe because you are liable to get caught up in a war zone. It would ned to offer enough safety to entice folk away from npc owned high sec of course.

        The notion of attracting players to empty systems with valuable rewards doesn’t work. It has been tried and tried many times in EVE and the bulk of players will always think of safety first. Even worse they will find out ways to game the system to extract the maximum reward without exposing themselves to any risk.

        • Dex says:

          First of all, Jita is a hell of alot safer than you seem to think it is, unless you just aren’t being wise about moving your junk about. Hell, the only reason Jita is anymore dangerous than any other system of the same Security rating is because of the immense amount of isk flowing through it. Anyone, it is already entirely possible to create a “High-Sec” bubble in Nullsec, and unless I’m incorrect, the only missing bit for trying to create a Null-Trade Hub is an Alliance collecting taxes from transactions (Pretty sure the NPC IRS fuckfaces still get the Sales Tax in Nullsec). However, it’s only gonna be as safe as the Alliance controlling the system can make it. Because honestly, your idea of “hiring CONCORD” is just silly. No one wants a CONCORD insta-Blap Squad dropping in on them in friggen Nullsec.

          Anyone, pretty sure what Cyndre was implying that your idea of “Safe Transport Links”, whether that’s some idea to get NPCs to safely move your junk about, or just some method to move across Hi-Sec without worry of Gate Camps, would kill the game as it is. Also, not gonna happen.

      • mbp says:

        With regard to the safe transport links – What I am thinking of is “smudging out Jita” so that it isn’t all in one place. Probably alll that is required woudl be a linked market between several widely distributed systems (lets call them global market hubs). Its not a general solution to transport. You still need to fly something yourself to your nearest hub its just that that hub doesn’t have to be situated in one system in the middle of the map. I realise thta a lo tthought would need to be put into the positioning of these “global” market hubs to ensure that trading between regions still makes sense but I think it could be done Possibly put a “global market” access system in each corner of the map for example.

        I still prefer the idea of player created high security zones. I really think it could go a long way to dealing with the fact that vast swathes of New Eden are effectively depopulated and it could add a great new twist to alliance warfare and control. You cannot do this properly in the game at present – just look at how (un) popular NRDS is. To get this to work properly it would need to be very profitable to do (taxes or similar) and alliances would definitely need some help with security because in the game as it stands it is incredibly difficult for players to effectively police a system.24/7 and punters are only going to come if they believe they can mine trade whatever in safety. Concord has its flaws but it does more or less work and it would fit within the lore of the game.

        Of course it should also be possible for another Alliance to come in and take it all away. The usurpers might decide to continue the “safe harbour” status and keep the taxes for themselves or they might prefer to take everything and revert to feudal control. Them’s the risks a punter would take for trying to do business in a warzone.

        • Anonymous says:

          You might want to reconsider your phrasing…any sort of global market is the antithesis of what makes eves economy work..,

          The transportation of goods is what makes a real economy with regional pricing and supply/demand work…

          That’s why it has a hub like jita, which is a natural byproduct of economics. This is just like real life and why eve has a real economy unlike any other mmo.

          However, the guided creation of more hubs would be an effective way to spread out the player base.

          I don’t see why the worry about more players; as the base of players grows the economy and game will naturally evolve to sustain them.

          Just like in real life, as nations and worlds economy grow more hubs spring up around trade centers.

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