Looking around EVE Vegas, a small fan convention that CCP have adopted as part of their “wherever a few are gathered” approach to community, it’s easy to see the challenges facing CCP. This is a tiny gathering of intensely passionate players, predominantly invested in EVE, and their perspectives and concerns are almost impenetrable to outsiders. EVE has become its own intricate and insular world.
Marketing director David Reid and CCP have been trying to build new points of entry to that universe. EVE is now tied to Dust 514 and, soon, Valkyrie, the Oculus Rift-inspired space dogfighter. At the core, Reid’s and CCP’s mission is to make a proverbially complicated game more accessible to a wider audience.
“We all look at EVE now and say, we are proud of EVE being a hard game,” Reid explains. “But we can make EVE easier to understand. We don’t want to sacrifice any integrity of what has made EVE great, but if a hardcore gamer can’t figure out the game, we’re missing an opportunity to make EVE even better.”
“You have these great stories that come out of the sandbox,” Reid says, “You have the Fountain War, and the Battle of Asakai, and Burn Jita — And this never ends. Because it is always driven by players. And that makes for a fascinating angle, and we are always bringing new people into the game because of it.”
But Reid also seems aware that there are limits to how much CCP can broaden the space MMO’s appeal.
Reid muses, “Maybe EVE continues to be the gem that it is, and grows every year, and that’s a huge success story and nothing to be complaining about. But if you really want, as a more general player, to feel like you are a part of a universe where you are making an impact... maybe EVE isn’t the game we should ask you to play. Maybe we should give you a first person shooter that does that. And that really is the idea of Dust.”
Whether Dust ultimately proves to be that gateway remains to be seen. Reid sounds confident about both the game and its near-future of PS3. “This is just getting started, but you can imagine what Dust will look like 10 years from now when EVE is 20 years old. How rich this ecosystem between a few things would be,” Reid says.
To hear EVE and Dust players tell it, Dust will need a lot of that time just to deliver on its promise. The two games do not connect particularly well, each game remaining just barely relevant for the other.