"It's super depressing," Andie Nordgren said with a sort of semi-defeated smile. She's the executive producer of EVE Online, one of the deepest and most complex sandbox video games in existence, and she's reacting to a key statistic that developer CCP shared at this year's EVE Fanfest: In the past year, more than 1.5 million new players signed up to try EVE Online; the overwhelming majority of them permanently quit after two hours.
Of course Nordgren feels that way. How could she not feel that way? She's steering the ship that has created one of the biggest living science fiction universes of all time, a game that tens of thousands of people are logged into at any given minute. There's obvious appeal for anyone willing to see it through, but that's the exact issue -- so, so many would rather give up than dig deeper.
In my third Fanfest, it's a problem that has come up before. Every year, in fact. This is the first time that CCP has quantified it, though. The new player experience is something the developer is continually working on, and that's assurance we get every single year.
One of the oddest moments of the weekend concerned this very topic. CCP took some time out of the EVE Online keynote to address the new player experience to its install-base who cares enough about the game to trek to Iceland in celebration of it. It's important to everyone; those EVE veterans stand to hypothetically see their corporations and alliances grow with an influx of new players.
A man who only went by his developer handle of "CCP Ghost" took the stage. He put a picture of his unusually gray brain on the theater screen. He detailed how dating back to his childhood, he was obsessed with learning how his brain works. As a part of this obsession, he learned doctors were interested in his dome because there's an absence of vessels to carry blood to his brain. Over the course of his 12-minute talk, Ghost never once explained how he's still alive.... read more