Eve has had ten consecutive years of subscriber growth, which in itself is an astounding thing. But in the last few months, that growth has picked up at an alarming rate. There are a number of factors at play here: CCP’s return to iteration on the game’s fundamentals with Retribution, Eve’s 18th expansion and most commercially successful ever; the impact of Dust 514, which entered open beta in January and is now inextricably tangled up with Eve; December’s Chinese relaunch, in partnership with Tiancity; and the Battle of Asakai - a humongous, player-driven massacre borne of a tiny misunderstanding.
Which of these things has netted Eve the most subscribers is the subject of much “water cooler talk” at CCP. But the developers do know that, scarcely two and a half months after reaching 450,000 subs, Eve has somewhere garnered 50,000 more.
“Ten years after release, it is incredibly inspiring that, through a lot of hard work from our EVE Online team, we are crossing the half-million subscriber mark,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP. “For me, this is a true testament that EVE can live on forever, as long as we do right by her. We have not come to this point alone; millions of players have helped push us to this milestone. I now know in my mind what I previously only believed in my heart: that EVE will outlive us all.”
Pétursson told us that CCP had seen a spike in subscriptions as a direct result of last month’s Battle of Asakai - although a “perfect storm” meant it was difficult to estimate the effect of any one event.
“There were so many things happening at the same time - the open beta of Dust, another player-driven event that was actually happening at the same time as Asakai, and the overall effect of progress from Retribution. So there’s a little debate within CCP about which of these things affected [subs] the most,” said Pétursson.
“Certainly, over the past ten years we’ve seen these events in Eve bring new people to Eve Online, and frankly even new people to CCP. There are many CCPers today who trace their first contact with CCP from events in Eve Online.”
One of those CCPers, it transpires, is CMO David Reid :“I remember in 2006 or so reading an article in PC Gamer about Murder Incorporated, the Guiding Hand Social Club heist, in which a group of players infiltrated one of the largest corporations in Eve, assassinated the corporation CEO and walked off with all the money in their coffers,” he said.
“And it was a fascinating story for me of, ‘Wow, this does not happen in normal games. This is really intriguing stuff that no one set out to design’. The Battle of Asakai in many ways is just the most recent of these purely unscripted player events that have happened.
“I think what we’re seeing right now across all things Dust and Eve and CCP is a rising tide... Things are swelling very nicely across the business,” he added.
Eve’s Chinese relaunch, meanwhile, is “off to a very strong start”, and has debunked some of CCP’s preconceptions about the market.
“There’s a lot of, shall we say, shallower games on the market there, and Eve is of course a very deep game,” said Reid. “And so it’s testament to the uniqueness of Eve that we really do stand out and the game is very appealing for a large number of gamers.
“Just because the social, shallower end of games is very popular in a market like China, it doesn’t mean that Chinese gamers don’t want deeper experiences like our Western gamers do.”
I should think not. Are you a new or renewed subscriber to Eve? What was the tipping point for you?