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I saw on facebook the other today that CCP announced it reached over 500,000 subscriptions. I went to twitter and I congratulated them on the accomplishment but ended my tweet with “but how many are alts?”



A discussion arose in which another tweeter, DJ Wiggles of EVE Radio fame, posited that the accomplishment is a good thing regardless if the player base has actually grown or not. I disagree and this post is going to explain why.

A few years back I read about a research study looking at the effects of industrial fishing, especially in regards to the practice of keeping only the largest fish and little the smaller ones go, ostensibly to allow the population to remain stable. Sustainability if you will.

The problem the researchers found was that this selection put downward pressure on the average size of the fish species that this applied to. When stress was put on the population it was determined that smaller fish were more likely to die from the conditions than larger fish were. That is to say, the larger fisher had more resources to survive the adverse conditions than the smaller fish. Therefore the practice of letting the little ones go was actually making the population more vulnerable to die off.

How does this apply to Eve? Well, I’m getting there.

The correlation is not direct but the principle is similar. If the subscriptions increase but the playerbase does not, this does not mean that the game is growing. It simply means that more people want active alt accounts. Yes, this means more cash flow for CCP and more money to invest into their games, but at the same time it means that the game is proportionally more vulnerable to catastrophic failure upon some Incarna-level like stress. That is to say, as the number of players with alt accounts grows, then as those players burn out / move on / rage quit over time, and there is not many new players coming in to replace them, the impact is greater and business plans more fragile.

Its worth noting as well that those “subscription” numbers are worldwide and include Serenity server, the dedicated Chinese shard. How much are those numbers impacting the overall totals since it was restarted in June of last year? How many of these growing subscription numbers are part of Playstation console players trying Eve due to the Dust 514 game, and how long will they stay?

Without the raw numbers and their sources, we are left to guess how much the announcement is actually good news and how much is good spin.

– Kirith Kodachi

We are proud to bring you the stories, opinions and musings of a long time pilot who has dabbled in everything New Eden has to offer, he writes and podcasts about his opinions and adventures at Ninveah.com

38 Comments

  1. Space troll

    What dafuq sperge did I just read?

    March 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm Reply
    1. anti troll

      why not get a fucking life/job instead of trolling comments sections all day you retard, your a sad little boy that needs to grow the fuck up, you shit cunt little fuck weasel.

      Idiots like you should be kept away from the internet for your own good, i hate you and hope you die of cancer you fucking backward trailer trash little cunt.

      March 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm Reply
      1. Herp

        then its people like you that keep trolls coming back becuase of your little "rebuddles". Next time dont take the bait heh

        March 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm Reply
        1. The_Oracle86

          aww i missed the comment. My day is ruined :(

          March 5, 2013 at 12:03 am Reply
      2. Dave the rave

        harsh but true +1 sir

        March 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm Reply
      3. the guy has been blocked.

        March 4, 2013 at 6:47 pm Reply
        1. CocoChannel

          jajajaa Internet Curses are amazing!

          March 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm Reply
      4. Pubbie

        Pop a blood vessel? Also does EN now support making death threats on its forums??

        March 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm Reply
  2. Hernan J.

    We all leave EVE at least one time, but we always return, because eve is unique.

    March 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm Reply
    1. FA grunt

      Not like it once was

      March 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm Reply
  3. John Selth

    More payign subscriptions = More money for CCP which in turn = Larger budgets for development teams. Seems pretty good to me even if the subscription increase could be due to people wanting more alts.

    March 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm Reply
    1. FA grunt

      But going by it by inflating the market in game CCP will die as a company

      March 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm Reply
  4. Guest

    Your kinda right, it would be problem, if it is happening, which we can't really access. Still, even assuming that the player base has not grown, it's a WAY better problem than declining subscription numbers.

    March 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm Reply
  5. Nice

    Very interesting comparison and food for thought. +1

    March 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm Reply
  6. FA grunt

    So we paid for dust

    March 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm Reply
  7. Green Giant

    Sorry, but comparing a research paper about fish (which is debatable to begin with) to MMO EVE players is truly apples and oranges.

    You let small fish go so next year they are big fish and provide meat.

    EVE beginners have 1 account. Next year, they will probably still have 1 account. They don’t grow like fish. Most people with 2+ accounts have played for 3+ years.

    While you’re correct about catastrophic collapse because there’s more weight on player’s actions, neither EVE nor any company provides raw data/numbers.

    You provide a lot of great articles Kirith, but sadly, this isn’t among them.

    March 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm Reply
    1. Myravingian

      "Sorry, but comparing a research paper about fish (which is debatable to begin with) to MMO EVE players is truly apples and oranges." You're a fucking idiot. stop posting.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm Reply
      1. Barkaway

        you are an idiot, stop replying-.-

        March 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm Reply
    2. Dirk MacGirk

      Omg dude, read. His point was that if the growth is the result of increased alt accounts being created, rather than new subscribers (new mains), then the system is vulnerable to bigger declines IF those mains started unsubbing as they would likely take their alts with them. I know, I know. It was a fabulously unnecessary use of a fish analogy. But it didn't make the point of the article bad.

      CCP should release figures that break out Eve (both servers) as well as Dust. It would just give a clearer picture. Unless of course they don't want the clarity put forth. And I imagine they don't. Dust and China are the likely growth engines in the numbers, while growth in Eve subscriptions is more than likely dominated by increases in alt accounts. But thy can't really track those because the use of plex/GTC coupled with alias email addresses make trying to identify alts virtually impossible (without trying to use an IP addy to do it – and most of you account sharers don't want that).

      March 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm Reply
    3. The_Oracle86

      Did you read the article? More importantly did you read the point he was making in comparison of EVE to the fish?

      Because if you did, you'd understand the quite valid point he's making.

      March 5, 2013 at 12:06 am Reply
  8. Markethopper

    I don't care if it comes down to me and one other player in Eve in the future, with as many alts as he/she wants. As long as I have one person in the game to fight or fleet with, I will be here. I am certain there are many who feel this way.

    I feel it is not too bold to say that, after surviving this long, Eve will never be truly judged by it's real subscription numbers.

    March 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm Reply
  9. Slothen

    Good article.

    March 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm Reply
  10. Jesus from Marketing

    I have 5 accounts, paid and waiting to expire. Also there is another risk in the opposite direction: too many young players. It is known in the industry, that the majority only play for a short amount of time. If they are not really addicted and something bad happens or a better game published, they switch Eve off in masses. Probably most of the young players are playing many games. In my opinion CCP runs since years a bad strategy in overstreching their resources for their vision of a more and more perfect SCIFI game, which merges many new games in the space-ship game. I am not interested in Dust514, PI or walking in station. I would, if it was good, but it isnt. At the same time CCP misses to fix the big issues in thier bread and butter game. This can not end well.

    March 4, 2013 at 9:03 pm Reply
  11. alx Warlord

    CCP!!! hire more devs!!!!

    March 4, 2013 at 9:32 pm Reply
  12. Gumpin

    So what if they were all alts.

    Which would you prefer CCP get. The same number of players with less accounts.

    OR

    The same number of players with more accounts.

    One of these makes more monthly income for the company for the same effect while appearing to be a more populated game.

    The other doesn't.

    Which do you think is better kith?

    March 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm Reply
    1. Gumpin

      derp Kirith*

      For some reason I see Homeworld Kiith when I see your name

      March 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm Reply
  13. FailCascade

    I have seen a vision of the end-times, and it is two players multiboxing 1000 accounts, engaging in a massive fleet battle with two identical fleets of supercaps.

    March 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm Reply
  14. The_Oracle86

    Interesting article, i was skeptical when you started talking bout fish in comparison with eve, but you did bring the point home quite well. And it's quite a valid point, the more alt accounts there are, the more fragile the game is. All it takes is another "Monoclegate" incident to occur to make this fact all apparent.

    March 5, 2013 at 12:09 am Reply
  15. noob

    I would just add that we know a substantial number of new players came aboard with Retribution launching, the battle of Asakai, etc.

    Definitely worth celebrating, cheers!

    March 5, 2013 at 3:39 am Reply
  16. Newbied

    After Asakai I jumped back into EVE … I say jumped back in, I'd only played for a month or so in 2009. When I reactivated another friend new to the game started up as well and another friend reactivated his (newbie) account. So there are certainly 3 new real players in the game.

    March 5, 2013 at 8:56 am Reply
  17. Inmei T'ko

    As the EVE community becomes more and more risk averse, as basic in game mechanics such as money making and sovereignty grinding become more and more monotonous, as big alliances are allowed to control more and more of the end game content, and as the community continues to penalize the new player through harsh tactics and the goal to prove themselves "elite", (killing noobs does not and never has and never will make anyone elite, neither does killing ships that cannot fight back) more and more people will stop playing EVE. Frustration, and the fact the game becomes a full time job, play a major factor in this. I already have a full time job, I don't need another.

    Solution? I am not certain. I think it may revolve around making PvP less painful, and easier both to learn and to do. This would mean possibly, greater insurance payouts with actual full reimbursement, better game based PvP training in the form of tutorials, improved protection for new players and defenseless ships against griefer tactics, removal of Goons chokehold on nullsec sovereignty, and a real concerted effort to wipe out RMT. All of this would have to be accomplished without taking away all of the consequences of actions in the game, which is also important and part of what makes EVE great.

    March 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm Reply
    1. GUEST!

      Well said!

      March 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm Reply
    2. eric loto

      Bull. Make pvp easier and make the game safer.
      How about we start training noobs?

      Hey miner, use your Dscan constantly, you see catalysts you run. Do not afk mine, you will loose your mack.

      Hey new pvper, fly t1 frigates until you figure it out.

      This game has everything in place for you to NEVER die, start using them.

      March 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm Reply
      1. Inmei T'ko

        Mining not afk is like watching paint dry. This is the hole in your argument. You are saying, just adapt. We hear that all the time. But the game is designed to make mining boring. And it is designed to make it stupid easy to gank barges. But it is also designed to require minerals.

        Flying T1 cruisers against skilled and effective players gets old fast, leading to ragequits. Combine that with the fact that most new players cannot clonejump, so they either pay the penalty of longer training times or they lose expensive implants, and we see more design flaws.

        The everything is fine argument is useless and frankly untrue. If you have nothing more constructive to say, go troll elsewhere. I hear kindergarten is looking for kids for their debate team.

        March 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm Reply
        1. Remy Duchateau

          Solo mining is, I've always had a lot of fun when doing a mining op with my buddies. It's a great way to chat up with everyone, discuss things, make deals,… It's like the water-cooler in a sense.

          March 7, 2013 at 12:10 am Reply
  18. SNARFSNARF

    Ive been playing for 6 months and i already have 5 accounts. im willing to accept i may well be an exception as opposed to a rule, but kilith's point is very valid.

    plus, if you think about the economics of it, it doesnt necessarily mean money into CCP's coffers. As ISK is relatively easy to earn, a player with a couple of alts may well be able to pay for them entirely out of PLEX bought with in-game ISK – the net effect being that CCP gets basically nothing…

    March 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm Reply
    1. Nope

      Wrong, PLEX's aren't seeded. Each PLEX on the market has been payed for in cash by another player. Correct in saying CCP gets nothing from you, but they still got the initial money the PLEX sold for originally.

      March 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm Reply
  19. Anonymous

    Ive been playing for many years with 2 accounts, since the last patch i am just waiting and hoping ccp will
    fix the game. If i would find a better game i would switch however there aren't any better.

    March 9, 2013 at 1:25 am Reply

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