EVE is a vampire

So is EVE growing to 450k+ subs, or slowly bleeding?

I believe it’s both.

Unless you want to outright claim CCP is lying about having 450k+ subs, then they do. Which is a lot of subs for anything not called WoW. And this for a ten year old game. Not bad, and likely very profitable. The king of the niche really, if we define the niche as any MMO not called WoW (which is how we should define it).

I also think Jester’s numbers are correct, in that I don’t believe he made a mistake in collecting them and that what they show is in fact true; the average number of players logged in today is similar to the amount back around May 2009.

So again, is EVE growing, stagnant, or bleeding? How can subs be up but player activity be down?

Because EVE today is a more casual game than it was back in 03 (launch), or 06 (start of Jester’s graph), or 09 (Apocrypha). From the game itself getting friendlier (the UI improvements, the new players experience), to what I believe is a (slowly building) trend amongst MMO gamers looking for something closer to a virtual world than a themepark, EVE today is made up of a far more casual crowd than before. Now don’t get confused, the average EVE player is still a few steps more serious than the average MMO player, but the gap is closer today than it was in the past, and EVE itself is no longer filled with the purest of diehards.

Casual players don’t log in as often or for as long, which drops your concurrency numbers. Luckily for CCP, they still pay the same $15 a month (and use less bandwidth, yo).

To use an extreme example, what would Jester’s graph look like if only bots played EVE, with their 23/7 schedule? Average logins would look massive, very close to that 450k number. Now what would the numbers look like if all 450k subs only played once a week? The number would be pitifully low. In both cases however, CCP is collecting $15x450k.

The real danger here would be if player activity on the server dropped below the critical mass needed to make an MMO something other than a solo game you have to log into. EVE has a massive edge here over every other MMO (including WoW) because everything takes place on two (China and everyone else) servers, rather than dozens or hundreds. That said, New Eden is a big place, and places like Jita are what they are because thousands of pilots visit daily, so in-game activity does matter.

Not that CCP should get comfortable now. Just because they have the best MMO out (for what that’s worth, given the current state of the genre) does not mean the game is finished, or that more can’t be done to further extend the appeal of the game. And as that appeal gets broader, the amount of time spent playing per account will continue to trend towards a more casual number, whatever that might be.

8 Responses to EVE is a vampire

  1. steve rehn says:

    Keep in mind the effect of the new constant banning of bots. They play more hours than ordinary players, so banning them reduces the average play-hours per subscribed account.

  2. evehermit says:

    I might be wrong, but I was assuming the 450K sub number included the Chinese Server?

    • Noizy says:

      That was including Serenity, the Chinese server. When I went to Eve-Offline.net (Chribba > Jester) I saw max PCU today was 45,000 on Tranquility and 22,000 on Serenity.

      The only quibble I have with the numbers is that at the beginning of the year the users in China were not considered subscriptions and now they are. I’m not sure what’s changed except that maybe David “Tabula Rosa is AAA and here to stay” Reid finally got his way about how to market the numbers. When he came on at the beginning of 2012 he tried to tell everyone Eve was more popular than ever with over 400,000 accounts. Probably not a good move in the wake of Incarna and everyone knowing subs were down.

      Oh, and bots do not run 23/7 for very long in Eve anymore. The recommended running time is now 8/7 max and often 8/5 just to be safe. That also accounts for the decreased numbers.

      • evehermit says:

        That’s the problem I have with the new subscriber numbers – they never used to include the Chinese server. Now we don’t really know the relative health of Tranquillity.

  3. mooshoo pork says:

    The login numbers tell the real story. You can feel it in the game, you can see it in the gate to gate traffic. EVE is slowly bleeding players. If you take the number they gave that the average player has at least 2 accounts and divide that into daily logons, the number becomes really small. Back when I’m reasonably sure they weren’t counting Serenity in their numbers, they said they had 350k. Divide by 2 and you get 175k. But many, many players have more than 2 accounts. I think the real number is closer to 125k to 130k non-serenity players. Divide by 3 (three 8 hr ‘shifts’ for the various time zones), the numbers just about add up for the concurrent logons.

  4. Random Idiot says:

    ./quote–How can subs be up but player activity be down?

    Lots of reasons, but the main one is…

    Eve allows for people to login in & out when they choose, they can be on round the clock, they can login once a day, week, month whatever. It is perfectly possible to login once a month for a minute add a thirty day skill book, logoff and be part of the universe.

    The reason people do this is what is affecting then currently in RL. At some point they will return more frequently. In the mean time they keep on paying because that is their choice to remain in a great game…

    • Rohan says:

      Perhaps, but such things should be symmetrical. For example, at any given point of time 10% of players login once per month, and 20% of players should login once per day.

      Now an individual can change their playstyle, but the overall proportion should stay the same. You switching from monthly to daily is matched by someone else switching from daily to monthly.

      Changes in the overall proportions, which would lead to changes in the concurrent logins, should have an outside factor causing those changes.

  5. Kobeathris says:

    The title of this post reminded me of the Concrete Blonde song “The Beast”, which, listening to it again, if you just replaced “Love” with “Eve” through the whole thing, would be very appropriate.

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