Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
The Imperium knows all about perfect storms when it comes to the player base of New Eden. A mere 18 months ago The Imperium was already committed to a course that would change the landscape of the sov map in a dramatic manner. Casino ISK was bountiful, public opinion was the irrational “GRR GON, HAT GON”, and the game mechanics were far from favourable to the then defenders of the north. The Imperium weathered the storm and now is well positioned to deal with the future no matter its form. After all, it has demonstrated that it is an organisation more than capable of surviving and adapting to significant changes.
Eve is a very unique game in many respects. One of which being the audience. It would not be totally unreasonable to say, that many players share certain characteristics. Often these characteristics are beneficial in the real world, although not always delivered in the kindest of terms. It does not, however, mean that the message is founded on anecdotal evidence alone.
Perception is everything
The Blood Raider Sotiyo event can hardly be seen to be a roaring success at this time. Unfortunately, this new system was beleaguered1 by seemingly trivial errors, that either made it not very challenging or simply failing to garner motivation to run such an event. The PvE has been neglected in many respects with a variety of changes that never quite took hold in the way that had been hoped by all concerned.
The implementation of the Rorqual changes has gone from one extreme to another with varying groups crying foul at one point or another. First, it was “change the Rorqual as it is terrible”. Then, it was “Rorquals should not be part of a combat fleet”. Finally, followed by “why are you nerfing the Rorquals so hard?”. There is little doubt however that the Rorqual is in a better position than it once was, as it was then only to be seen sitting in a POS boosting.
With the API changes, we have seen CCP break promises that were given a mere 6 months or so ago. Nothing quite like breaking a promise in order to solidify a relationship. -That was sarcasm should you have missed it.
Exploits not being declared as exploits. Ghost training has been a thing for some time, and despite it being well documented it apparently remains a valid form of gameplay.
Want a new skin for you nice shiny new ship? Sure! That will be 30 bucks then. Suddenly a Something Awful account looks quite reasonable in value.
There is a lot more that can be written about here, such as with the proposed changes to fighter damage, ship rebalances and a host more. To do so would only labour the point, that has I hope already been made.
During The Casino war, any Imperium member knew that to post on the likes of Reddit would only bear one result. Unless of course, you were on the way out of the Imperium, to supposedly greener pastures and doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Those foolish enough to try and engage with the mob were quick to realise the mistake. Reddit is the place of knee-jerk reactions in the main and not for considered thought. For an organisation, the likes of CCP, to turn to Reddit, as a reasonable method of understanding their player base, is folly or simple laziness.
Learning from the mistakes of others
As lovely as it is for CCP staff to be involved in the community or at least those parts it views more favourably, it comes with its own set of risks. The public declaration of CCP Quant is a fine example of this. Despite even hastily modifying his comments to correct his own error, once pointed out, he is still actively in the race. It may be more prudent to simply withdraw from the argument at least until a business day. Instead, his latest post will run the course of the weekend and will be a likely focal point of discussion within the game.
When you start to accuse your customers of being the problem then things are really getting out of control. Any organisation should recognise that their customers are the lifeblood of their existence. With no customers then only a bleak future will await. Evidence of this is all too apparent in the real world with a whole industry based around how to deal with customers and their concerns.
Imagine for a second if The Mittani had dived into accusing others of failing, while never admitting any error on his own part. If this had been the case, then it would have likely been his undoing. I mean blaming the people who are trying to help is only going to remove any inclination to help at all. If anything it is only likely to bolster resistance against the current leadership.
Perhaps a valuable lesson in this can be taken from organisations that have had to deal with this issue in the past, rather than to lash out at their customer base in order to defend their own thin skins. Many household names have had to deal with significant changes with a sometimes hasty customer base. But rather than put forward a business argument in any detail it should be sufficient to just get to the punchline. Introduce change in such a way that it is an evolution rather than a revolution.
This approach may deny the opportunity of fancy single use headlines, but it also avoids some of those negative ones as well. At the end of the day, an organisation’s customers are the very best marketing tool that a company can have. If your customers are talking in a positive way, about the products or services you offer, then that will ultimately have a positive effect.
The following is by no means a proposed change but merely to act as an example of how change can be introduced without the same furore currently being seen. Consider for a moment the effect of tying NPC bounties to the hull type of a ship. Ratting in a T1 Cruiser then gets the 1.0 bounty payment. Ratting in a Super Carrier then expects to get a 0.5 payout. This payout can then be tweaked as required without attracting the same attention as “we are nerfing fighter damage by 30%”. The end result in controlling the ISK generated is the same as the straight forward nerf but it is less likely to even be noticed. Players will often simply gravitate to the best form of ISK generation for their particular preference. (ed. a risk bonus multiplier to hull versus hull)
Eve players, as with all players, are unlikely to be welcoming of any change that they perceive to be taking something away. CCP additionally has the issue of some of their customers being very observant. The test server SISI will be inspected to see what changes are on the way and the informed are often well prepared.
None of the above should be construed as advice in any way. As an F1 Monkey with a reputation to uphold these are simply my opinions. That way I cannot be blamed should I be in error. CCP Quant should also be grateful that his comments were not made while he was inebriated and wearing a wizard’s hat, or at least there is no evidence of this at this time.
Expect the writers at INN to keep you up to date with the changes that are coming in the future, as well as guides to help you with your Eve existence. How CCP will deal with the latest run of issues may be a defining moment in the Company’s history.