I always get a chuckle when people misuse the “80% of EVE pilots never leave Empire” stat from CCP as some sort of indicator that even the majority of EVE players don’t like PvP. As anyone who has actually played EVE knows, not only does PvP happen in Empire (be it FW, Corp vs Corp, or ganking), but many players have multiple accounts, and a second/third/tenth account makes for a great Empire-only pilot.
In a way though it’s a compliment to EVE and the PvP community, with EVE now growing to the point it can no longer be ignored or written off as a small niche title in the genre, PvP haters have to find a different approach to try and explain how its possible for a game to continue growing while still allowing the virtual wolves to continue feasting on the sheep.
But lets pretend for a minute that those who try to mislead (or simply misuse) with that stat are in fact correct, and that only 20% of all the players playing EVE have ever PvP’ed; does that actually tell us anything? Does it really show that most players don’t want/enjoy PvP in an MMO like EVE?
Of course not.
First off, if you removed PvP from EVE, you would not only remove an activity that, if you enjoy incorrect use of stats, you believe is 20% of the population, but you also cripple everyone else thanks to the countless side effects. That giant economic sink that is so vital to the economy? Gone. The reason certain materials are rare? Gone. The thing keeping ships like Frigates relevant and the demand for their production high? Yup, that’s gone too. I could go on.
Point being, even if you are someone who played EVE beyond the trial and never got into a single PvP situation, your overall enjoyment of the game would be drastically altered with the removal of PvP, and many of the things you took for granted (like the entire economy) would not function nearly as well. Not to mention it’s highly likely you might never have tried the game in the first place, since so many are drawn by the stories that ‘20%’ weaves.
Perhaps part of the confusion comes from the stark difference between a virtual world like New Eden and the disjoined selection of rides that is Azeroth or its ilk. Just like the teacups at Disneyland, you going on the ICC ride has zero impact on anyone else in the park, and how you did on said teacups has zero impact on your experience with Space Mountain. Each ride is its own little world, one that pops up and shuts down as soon as you zone in or out, and the only residual effect might be the stuffed animal you leave the park with to show to all your friends (who most likely already have three copies of the same cheap throwaway toy anyway).
That is the exact opposite of New Eden, where one event (Hulkagedon) not only impacts those directly involved, but also effects many other aspects of the game (ship prices, ore supply, etc). Every player leaves some mark on the world, and while most won’t be noticed overall, others certainly will. Beyond how many you effect, any one single player will remember an event that happens to them, so while a single Empire suicide gank has little impact on all of New Eden (unless of course you happen to lose a silly amount of PLEX), it certainly leaves a mark on the victim.
It’s that complex web of interaction that really fuels a virtual world forward and creates a ton of ‘content’ for everyone playing. It’s also why the idea of separating all parts of the game, making nothing ‘count’ beyond the scope of that one single instance, is both a boring and unsettling direction to take an MMOs in. The advantages are there of course (easy to design and balance, solo-friendly, instant rewards, etc), but I think I’ll stick with the ‘20%’ and enjoy my virtual worlds in all their interconnected glory.
Chuck-o-the-day: Chuck Norris can stare you down with his back turned.