Rage Quitters

When the "Monoclegate" scandal was at its peak a couple years ago, one of our teachers in EVE University decided suddenly to unsubscribe and quit EVE Online altogether.  He couldn't live with where CCP was taking the game, he told me. He was enraged by the idea of "pay to win" micro-transactions, which he thought were inevitable.

"I can respect that," I replied. "But you'll be back." 

"I doubt it," he said. "The whole thing just makes me too mad." 

I was sad to see him go - he was a great teacher, especially to our novice students.

A year went by, and then I received an in-game mail from our former teacher, asking to come back to the UNI.

"What happened?," I asked him. "You seemed pretty upset about what CCP was doing to EVE." 

"Yeah, I was - but that's not the real reason I left," he replied. "There was a lot of bad stuff going on my life then.  The riots in Jita just gave me an excuse to rage quit from the game. But now everything is OK personally, and I missed EVE, so I'm back."

The Rage Quit Pattern

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Over the more than four years that I have played EVE Online, I have seen this kind of "rage quitting" many times. It always follows the same pattern:

  1. CCP makes a change to the game, or implies a possible change.
  2. A few people go berserk, disproportionately to the degree of game change.
  3. They quit the game in a huff, usually with at least a little drama.
  4. Time passes.
  5. They come back.

Whenever I speak privately to these returning players, they have all admitted that the real reason they had quit was because of Real Life issues. The game change that supposedly caused their discontent to burst into a raging ire was actually just an excuse for doing something they were thinking that they should be doing anyway - finding more time to deal with Real Life priorities.

The TOS Affair

Poetic Stanziel

Poetic Stanziel

Recently, the prolific and provocative EVE Online blogger Poetic Stanziel announced that he was leaving the game. He cites the recent change in the CCP Terms of Service (TOS) agreement, which makes impersonating either another player or a CCP employee a bannable offense, as his principal reason, along with a few others. He has written extensively about his belief that this change is part of a deliberate trend orchestrated by CCP to make the game safer for players, especially in high security space.

Just as I told my UNI colleague, I can respect that point of view. In fact, I would agree that many of the recent changes to the game do in fact make life easier and less dangerous for newer players - and for established players as well. The safety mechanism and revamp of the Crimewatch system make it harder to get CONCORDokened, for example. The toughening of mining barges and exhumers makes them more difficult to gank. The recent specialization changes to industrial ships makes those harder targets, too.

But do these changes mean that CCP is trying to turn high sec into a carebear's fantasy?

I just don't see it.

Ganking is still quite feasible, for example. You just have to be more discriminating about what targets you select, and how you attack them.

We teach a class on Crimewatch, about all the implications of suspect flags and criminal flags. Even with the improved and simpler flagging system, it still takes an hour or more to cover all of the points that every player should understand. The new safety switch just provides a fail-safe way to ensure that you don't do something you didn't intend. This is a good thing.

CCP has said that the change to the TOS is not really a change at all, but a more explicit clarification, which seems a bit disingenuous. A change is a change, and CCP should own up to that simple fact.

But is the TOS change, and the other game changes I've mentioned in this post, sufficient cause for players to throw up their hands in disgust and walk away from EVE Online? 

Maybe - but I think it's a shame, if it does.

I say "maybe" because these changes will certainly impact a specific style of play, and if the changes make that style of play impossible, then those players will rightly feel unwelcome. That style of play is one focused on victimizing new and as yet uneducated players in EVE Online - the ones that are most likely to misunderstand a key game mechanic, like suspect and criminal flags, or that they can be scammed by players misrepresenting themselves as someone they are not.

Those of us who have been in New Eden for a while know enough to avoid such things, but new players do not. I think that is why CCP introduced the safety mechanism, and likewise, the recent change to the TOS. For CCP, protecting new accounts is simply good business. For those whose sole reason to play the game is to prey on new players, they are right to feel shunned - CCP is destroying their game, if that is the only way they enjoy playing it.

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This is not a good reason to quit the game and unsubscribe, however. If EVE Online teaches anything, it is this: the key to success is knowing how to adapt. Those who acknowledge changes, and find new and innovative ways to work within the evolving constructs of the game, are the ones who ultimately "win" EVE Online - they have the most fun in figuring out how to thrive in the changing environment.

'Til We Meet Again

People who "rage quit" from EVE Online may be justified in feeling like game changes are imposing on their preferred style of play. But most players simply try other aspects of the game, or they get creative and find new ways to exert their style in a different way.

The rage quitters, however, are either unwilling or unable to adapt. They don't want to find new ways to have fun in EVE Online. This mental block is always temporary, in my experience. After the rage quitter handles whatever issue is distracting their attention, or after they've had sufficient time away from the game to regain a clearer perspective, their mental block dissipates, and they invariably return.

When they do come back, I always welcome them - and then take a bit of perverse pleasure in saying, "I told you so." 

Fly safe! o7