I wasn't there for it, but the last couple weeks I've spent a lot of time talking to those who were active both in the run-up to and during the 2011 Summer of Rage. I get the sense that this current outrage is qualitatively different from the discontent back then, and I think I can finally put my finger on it.
If you haven't already, go have a good read of the original Greed is Good memo. Putting aside my perspective as an actual EVE Online player (and consequently one of their customers), I'd say it's actually a fairly accurate albeit blunt analysis of their customer-base and it's motivations. As a community we talk endlessly about how EVE is more of a hobby than a game, so it's no surprise that those with a monopoly on the supply would consider how to exploit that for the betterment of their bottom line.
You also have to contextualize this in time. 2010-2011 was precisely when the Free-to-Play business model really started to take off. League of Legends was officially released in October 2009, and it's roaring success showed just how feasible the model was. Valve started a rapidly expanding closed Beta for both CS:GO and Dota 2 in late 2010 with the express intent of operating free-to-play making money purely through cosmetic item sales, and truly put their money where their mouth was by releasing Team Fortress 2 free-to-play (previously at a cost of £20). It was later revealed in a 2013 interview that they actually made more money selling cosmetics in the first 12 months of free-to-play than they had made selling the game itself the previous 4 years. There's clearly some unreasonable greed in that memo, but assuming anyone at CCP was paying attention to the wider gaming industry at the time, it's no surprise they were thinking about alternative lines of monetization.
Go read through old forum posts, blog posts and news coverage, and two very clear messages to CCP appear:
- We already pay you a hefty monthly subscription, stop trying to screw us for more money.
- This is a spaceship game about spaceships in space. Please focus on that instead of stupid vanity projects (i.e. Walking in Stations).
Regardless of whether or not you trust the sincerity of Hilmar's apology, CCP did take heed of both those complaints. WiS was completely abandoned, and what immediately followed was a couple years of some of the best updates the game has ever had.
I'd say this time is different, or at the very least they haven't went back on those requests. Whatever you think of SKIN pricing, the fact is they are 100% cosmetic and don't actually affect gameplay in any way. The work in implementing them is also fairly trivial (relatively speaking), so they aren't taking away development time from more deserving projects the way WiS was.
They also are focusing on spaceships in space. The issue is what they are doing, not what they aren't doing.
Take a similar read of posts about this current "Summer of Rage", and no similar messages appear. Nerf Asset safety, buff citadel timers, fix sov by making it easier to hold by small groups, fix sov by making it easier to attack, buff jump range, nerf fatigue, nerf jump range, buff fatigue, buff caps, nerf caps, un-nerf caps, etc. There's no real consensus on what to do going forward and only two things that everyone agrees on:
- They're ANGRY,
- because there's nothing going on
Now I could lead off here on several thousands words about what I think is wrong with EVE, what CCP have misunderstood, and what I think they should do about it. But it would be a complete waste of time because 80% of the people who read it are going to disagree with 20-50% of what I'm saying, and for each person it will be a different 20-50%. I'm full of opinions, this blog is filled with them, and usually I'm up for spending 6hrs debating in the comment section on reddit, but I just don't think that's going to move us forward.
The truth is that right now, different parts of this game work really well for different groups of people, and terribly for others. In isolation some things might seem great for you, but when put together in the larger puzzle of New Eden it doesn't work. When someone points out the problems with your piece of the puzzle, simply pointing to the problems with theirs isn't a counter-argument. To steal a phrase from the world of economics, what is individually rational can be collectively irrational. I think that sums up our current situation pretty well.
The game needs some big changes in the near future if we want things to get better. On that I presume we can all agree. I don't think CCP are sitting there consciously deciding that they don't give a shit what they community thinks, they can obviously see the PCU plummeting and the volume of the mob rising. However it's tough to extract signal from noise when there is no signal in the noise.
Whoever you are, whatever area of space you roam in, whatever alliance or corporation you play with, whatever ships you fly, whatever your SP count, and whatever your wallet balance, you need to take a hard look at how you play the game and decide what makes you log in, and what doesn't. Decide what's important and what you'd be willing to sacrifice for a better tomorrow. Once you've done that, you need to take a fresh look at the complaints of others to see where their complaints match up with your priorities, and where your priorities match up with their complaints.
If enough people can do that, we might just be able to achieve some consensus and move forward.