Interesting post over at TAGN about the latest CSM minutes out of EVE, particularly the part about war decs. As someone who has experience in this area as a former CEO of a high-sec corp, I have some thoughts.
First its important to understand who might be in a high-sec corp, especially one most likely to get an unwanted war-dec that goes south and leads to the above-mentioned drop in activity. Most of these corps are newish and/or small. They likely started from a group of friends wanting to play EVE together, and then if successful, that momentum might lead to friends-of-friends joining in. As these players and groups are new, they are still learning the basics of the impossibly complex game that is EVE Online. The PvE is ‘hard’ by MMO standards, the economy is the most complex and competitive in all of gaming, crafting is hard just to get started, and nearly impossible if you want to turn a profit. And PvP is the deep-end of the game, where the complexity is turned to 11, and the consequences are some of the most punishing in the entire MMO genre.
In addition to all that, most of the players in these newer corps likely aren’t hardcore PvP gamers. Most of those go directly to null-sec. But there is a significant draw to EVE beyond just PvP, and there is certainly excellent gameplay (in terms of the larger picture, not necessarily the minute-to-minute clicking) to be had even if you never fire a single shot at another player’s ship. Also consider what a hurdle someone has already jumped as a new player just joining a Corp; that is a player who likely the game enough to join a group, and is motivated enough to do so. You really, really don’t want to drive these people away if you can help it.
Given the above, the data shared by CCP supports a simple story: Young corps of newish players, who likely aren’t super excited by PvP, have their time in EVE negatively impacted by a small group of veteran players who war-dec in high-sec. And the most common result of this cycle is that young corp of new players goes inactive.
To pull from personal experience, this is exactly what happened to my corp. Not too long after we formed, we got war-decced. And then war-decced again, and again, and again. The reason we survived is because we did have a few players interested in PvP, and a few who had pilots that weren’t completely new. This allowed us to fight back sometimes, and sometimes enough that the aggressors gave up and moved to a different target. But even with our core, sometimes the aggressors were simply better, or had higher numbers, and fighting back wasn’t an option. During those times our activity was way down, and while we did ok to retain players, it wasn’t easy or perfect. And while we had some good highlight moments, I’d say overall the whole war-dec in high-sec situation was a negative, even for us.
In contrast, our same corp (but now much larger and more seasoned) had a great time with PvP during our wormhole days. We went looking for fights, and we enjoyed the PvP that come to us. I bring this up simply to show that EVE players, even those that start as almost pure PvE players, can eventually warm up to PvP, but being assaulted by it immediately is more the issue.
My proposed solution? Allow the formation of ‘starter Corporations’. These would be immune to war-decs, but also could not war-dec or place structures (cits, POCOs, etc). Perhaps other restrictions I’m not considering as well. This would allow the ‘group of friends all start playing together’ scenario to be protected, without opening the system up for vet player abuse via structure spam.
What I find most interesting about the whole thing is that CCP has likely know of this issue for a long time, and for a long time they have really struggled to convert new players into long-term players. The war-dec situation is clearly one of the major causes for this lack of retention, yet they haven’t even attempted to fix it. Pretty insane.