Whenever I discover an EVE Online blog that interests me, I save a bookmark to that site in my browser. Over the last year, I'd collected over 60 such links, and upon examining the list, I realized that I'd not visited some of those in several months. So, I decided to go check out all of my saved EVE Online blog links in turn, and see what people were posting recently.
I soon discovered that over a dozen bookmarks in my collection led either to defunct sites, or ones that had not been updated in over five months. Of the inactive sites that were still live, comments in their most recent but now very stale posts all ran along similar lines:
- "I've not had much time for EVE lately."
- "I'm a bad blogger - Real Life is getting in the way of my EVE Online playing time. I'll post something relevant soon, I promise."
- "Been too busy in other games to post anything interesting about EVE Online. If I get back to the game, I'll say something about it here."
- "I've grown bored and tired of EVE. Going to take a break from the game for a while."
It was a little depressing, especially since some of the blog posters were some fairly well-known players when they were active in the game.
The saddest example of good blogs gone inactive is Ripard Teg's Jester's Trek, which was one of my favorite to read. At the end of May, he announced that he was discontinuing posts on his blog. I didn't always agree with Ripard's prolific musings, but I was always interested and engaged in what he had to say. More importantly, he taught me a few things about EVE Online, and for that, I'll always be grateful. I'm disappointed to see him hang up his blogging hat, and I hope that he'll come back one day.
Overall, over one-fifth of my selected EVE Online blogs have gone stagnant or have vanished altogether. That's a pretty substantial turnover rate, especially since I selected the original bookmarks based on merit - it's a shame to see so many interesting blogs fade away in the course of a year.
The In and Out Doors
What does this say about the EVE Online community, in general? I don't pretend to draw any significant insights from my haphazard survey of pertinent blog sites, but it does make me wonder: if more than a fifth of EVE Online's most serious fans lose interest every year, what is the turnover rate for the subscribing population in the game, in general?
At the most recent Fanfest, CCP Rise presented a session on the new player experience. He said that about half of new players who join the game stop playing after just a month. It appears that the percentage of players who remain subscribed to the game for more than a year is a relatively small minority.
If the discontinuance rate of my selected blogs is any indication, then EVE Online is also losing a similar number of players who were long-time subscribers, which explains why the number of online players in EVE Online has remained relatively stable for quite a long while now. I speculate that the 10-20 percent of players who are trying the game and remain are balancing out the 10-20 percent of veteran subscribers who drop.
I'm encouraged that CCP Rise and his Team Pirate Unicorns are focusing on improving the retention rate of new players - that is a good thing for everyone who plays EVE Online. I'm discouraged, though, that the veteran drop-out rate could be as high as I think it may be - and I'm not clear about what can be really done about that, beyond what CCP Games is already doing to continually enhance and improve the game - now ten times a year.
Would changing sovereignty mechanics improve veteran retention? Perhaps, but of course it all depends on what those changes entail. Any significant change always drives away people who simply choose not to adapt - in EVE Online or in Real Life. It creates quite a quandary for the devs in Reykjavik, I am sure: should they overhaul established mechanics to make the game more attractive, but at the risk of alienating the current player base?
I will be interested to see the subscriber numbers after the massive industry overhaul in Crius has been out for a few months. I suspect that they might actually dip slightly from what they are now, as industry tends not to be something that attracts new players to the game, but which is important to veteran skilled players - most of the latter will adapt to the new mechanics, but some will simply find it easier to give up and walk away. Big changes are hard for some people to take, especially when they are used to how things have been for a long time.
As for me, I'm interested the upcoming changes, and am looking forward to learning to master them. I only hope that my attitude is more of the norm for veteran players, and that CCP Games' plans for more frequent updates will translate into fewer experienced players dropping out, as well as more new players coming in. Then perhaps we'll start to see the numbers of online players begin to trend upwards again.
Until then, I worry about the current state of turnover in EVE Online. Turnover makes me sad - and nervous.
Fly safe! o7