Over at TAGN, he has a post about the upcoming changes to moon mining. In short, the activity is going from a mostly automated process involving structures processing resources to one that requires a group effort to collect the rewards. I’m highly in favor of this change, both from a personal perspective (I’ll finally be able to collect those materials myself for production, making those products even more ‘free’) and also because its good for the game.
One of the key factors in EVE’s continued success in an overall declining genre is its consistent commitment to rewarding group content, without going so far as to make grouping required to progress. Similar to how going F2P is a short term gain at a long-term sacrifice vs using the subscription model, an MMO going more towards solo content is a short-term benefit at a long-term loss.
This is also another reason ESO isn’t clicking for my wife and I right now. It’s very obvious a huge chunk of the game is aimed to be played solo, and not only do you not benefit from bringing someone else, in many cases you are punished or annoyed. Aside from this making the game a pretty crappy game to play with others, it also means you now compare the content of ESO not to other MMOs, but to single-player RPGs, and ESO can’t hold a candle from a solo perspective to titles like Pillars of Eternity or Skyrim.
That comparison doesn’t apply to EVE. You can’t find a single-player game that gives you the type and depth of content that EVE does. Crafting in Skyrim is a joke compared to pursuing an industry career in EVE. Reaching the gold cap in any game not called EVE is cute, while being rich in EVE is an actual accomplishment that is difficult to achieve. Large-scale success in other games mostly doesn’t matter (congrats on ‘winning’ the current RvRvR match in GW2, wheee!), in EVE you get books written about it and literally get referenced as a god (praise BoB).
This in turns creates a certain culture, one that keeps people around, either directly in the game playing, or at least hovering around the game and returning when interest peaks. Goons have 40 thousand or so real people in the organization. Obviously not all, or even half, play EVE together at any one point, but most of that massive group circles in and out, while staying connected via the ongoing history of Goons in EVE, and outside via forums or by playing other Goon-sponsored games together. If EVE was a shallow, mostly solo experience, it wouldn’t provide the kind of setting needed to keep people interested in a group’s success long-term.
An MMO is all about retaining people, and the genre’s history has shown that the deeper a game can dig its social hooks into someone, the longer it can retain them. When you shift your focus away from providing meaningful and memorable social interactions, you give up what will keep you successful long-term. Is moon mining becoming a group activity the key to pushing EVE to a million+ subscribers? Of course not. But it won’t hurt, and will likely convert some solo miners into more social players, and such steps are how you build, piece by piece, an MMO that has not only survived, but thrived for well over a decade.
Not-a-real-edit: Credit where credit is due (to me), awesome blog title here.