What do 9 year old MMOs look like today?
What will your current MMO look like after 9 years?
Odds are, it won’t be growing, won’t be a technological marvel, and won’t be pushing the genre forward. It might be offline, or it might be a shell of its former self, or it might even be under some trendy new payment model that sells the games soul for a buck, letting anyone with a care to take it for a weekend spin do so.
But it won’t be EVE.
And that, as a fan of the genre, is sad. It’s sad that EVE is the exception. It’s sad that 9 years of continual growth is a unique accomplishment, rather than a standard to aspire to. It’s sad that in a genre that started off with the promise of an unlimited adventure, only one game has delivered.
Those who bought into EVE in 2003 are still playing the same game. There is a lot more to it today, it looks a hell of a lot better, and allows more people in one area than most games have on an entire server, but it’s still the same game it was in 2003. New players still mine veld, produce frigates, and venture into low-sec foolishly. Alliances still fight over the same sections of null-sec, for mostly the same reasons, and use age-old ships while doing it.
Yet at the same time corporations are venturing into wormholes to deal with the Sleeper AI, running Incursions, and refining fittings based on the latest available mods. They are spinning V3-enabled ships, looking at nebulas, and occasionally walking around in a station. They can use EVE-voice, jam 2000+ people into Jita, and know that a shot won’t be missed thanks to TiDi.
Players also know that the next expansion, the 17th for the game, won’t replace missions or mining with newer and shinier content. It will add, but it won’t replace. The ships players fly today will be just as viable. They might need some tweaking, their roles might differ slightly, but they won’t be scrapped because the expansion has raised the iLvl for ships.
All of the above is why players can confidently sign up for a year of EVE and know what they are getting. It’s why those who have been around for 5, 6, or even 9 years are still around. They know that their current gameplay options will remain viable, and will only need ‘replacing’ when the player is ready to replace them. And when they are, they have countless other, viable avenues to continue down. If you want to prove yourself as a PvP player, EVE caters to that. If you want to be a market baron, EVE caters to that as well. Want to lead thousands to make history? EVE. Hang out with a small group of friends carving out your place in the game? EVE. Mining solo and just enjoy the scenery? EVE has a place for you as well. The paths might not be the ones I would select, but the beauty of the game is that not only do they exist, they interact and affect each other in meaningful ways.
The recent major event, Burn Jita, is the perfect example of this. Thousands of players entertained themselves in Jita, and those who witnessed the event first-hand will likely not forget it for some time. But the ripple effect goes far beyond one weekend and one system. Anytime you buy or sell a T2 product, Burn Jita had an effect on you. When players mine today, that action has been impacted by other event, Burn Jita and Hulkageddon being just two examples.
In addition to EVE being consistent with what it provides, it also catalogs every action. Events from 2005 impact all players in 2012 to some degree. Nothing is lost because it happened on another server, or before a ‘soft’ reset (typical MMO expansion that raises levels/gear). The T20 scandal might be ancient history, but its implications are still felt today. If you were around for that event, or any other, you sit knowing what you did then matters now, just like players today are setting the table for 2013 and beyond.
Credit is due to CCP for maintaining their vision of EVE, for not caving in to the latest trends or abandoning one player group in favor of another. Credit is also due to the influential pilots of New Eden, who create content and stories with their ideas and leadership.
All virtual worlds should aspire to what EVE has accomplished in 9 years. It’s sad none have been successful, and so few have even tried.