Continuing the conversation started yesterday about the MMO genre, and how I don’t believe its time has passed or that the genre ‘doesn’t work’ anymore, let’s talk about EVE.
But first, what do you see when you look at EQ1 today? An outdated title that is most likely a nostalgia trip, right? Same for basically any older MMO not named WoW (which today is in its final form as a single-player RPG), and even WoW isn’t fooling anyone into believe it’s a new release with top-end graphics and technology.
EVE though? EVE looks like a game released in 2018. From a technology perspective, there isn’t another game on the market, MMO or otherwise, that can handle battles as large as EVE, or that has an economy as deep, complex, and balanced as EVE. The largest groups of players, with the longest history, exist and thrive in EVE. For a game released in 2003, EVE still does many things better than any other game out, and much of that can be attributed to the fact that EVE has been upgraded at a consistent rate since 2003.
It’s sad that the above is almost exclusively limited to EVE, when in reality it should be the basic formula for most MMOs. And hence a major reason why the genre has been stuck in neutral for years now. Everyone has forgotten what made MMOs work, and why they offered something unique to gaming.
To get back to EVE, the recent purchase of CCP by Pearl Abyss could be a disaster (if the game drifts away from being EVE and more towards being a generic F2P cash-shop dumpster title), or it could be wonderful (CCP can finally stop trying to make something else, and focus 100% on doing what they do well, EVE Online). If we assume the latter, I don’t think it’s outrageous to suggest EVE could see a second revival in terms of popularity. I’m not predicting WoW-like numbers, but 500k+ I could see.
There are a TON of former EVE players who have drifted away, but most likely aren’t sick of the game, or never want to touch it again. Many just got bored, or tired of waiting for feature X or fix Y. With new focus, perhaps CCP can finally deliver on the wants of some, if not most, of those players. Growth would also snowball for a few reasons. Socially, if many of your former friends and corpmates are returning and enjoying things, you are far more likely to return as well. And as the population increases, in-game conflict and drama increases as well, which further grabs peoples attention and sparks an interest to return.
If we assume all of the above comes to fruition, it would be somewhat poetic if EVE was the reason we see a second coming of the MMO genre, and in particular, a return to the genre being about virtual worlds rather than short-stay themepark rides. Not holding my breath or anything, but it’s not that crazy if things fall into place.