These forums have been archived and are now read-only.

The new forums are live and can be found at https://forums.eveonline.com/

EVE General Discussion

 
  • Topic is locked indefinitely.
 

EVE's greatest tricks for player retention.

Author
Acot Voth
State War Academy
Caldari State
#1 - 2012-07-05 15:00:59 UTC
It didn't hit me right away, that is part of what makes it the greatest trick. It's pretty deep down the MMORPG philosophy hole, and it's game changing ingenious despite being extremely simple and in a way obvious.

In every other MMO I log in and focus on doing stuff to get XP to progress my level until I max it out. At that time I begin the "end game content". Much of my gameplay is driven by getting XP, then getting gear (carrots on sticks on treadmills as I see it).

EVE removes the idea that doing stuff results in getting me XP. Essentially when you log into EVE it's to do stuff because you like doing it, rather than doing stuff (often very un fun stuff) just to hit the lvl cap. EVE gameplay is driven by earning money to do more stuff that you enjoy. Although EVE is viewed as a harsher game, it's drive comes from a place of enjoyment rather than grinding to a goal.

It's a small change that many players might not give a second thought but the psychological implications, how the players view EVE,how it effects the way they play it, and for how long are fascinating. This change in approach, even on a potentially unnoted level is EVEs first great trick for retaining players.

EVE's second great trick is real time skilling. Again, this might not be noted by many players, but when your skills take real time, and you can easily see how much real time went into a character, it's makes you invested. The idea of throwing away your character is now the same as throwing out hours of patience and accomplishment. Other MMOs take time, but it's less obvious, in EVE the entire skill system is directly time based so it creates more of a mental connection. Quitting EVE is like quitting a house that you have 3/4 built, throwing out so much time, energy, effort, and accomplishment is extremely difficult, more retention.

EVE's third great trick. This trick is the trickiest of all, and it's actually a trick that EVE is lacking. Unfortunately it's also the trick that EVE would benefit from the most. If you look at the history of MMORPGs the ones that allowed for the most customization (both character and object) and social interaction/dependency have maintained the most dedicated fans over the long haul. The games that lacked these things died and were forgotten. The games that had these things have spawned such dedicated fans that they are literally trying to re-build the games themselves (that is some insane dedication). Games like UO and SWG get brought up daily on MMO forms all across the internet because people felt an emotional connection to the unique characters, objects, and social interactions they experienced those games. EVE does well in the social interaction part, but it is lacking in the other parts.

What theme parks fail to realize is they are made to keep us from becming emotionally invested. Our charactes look like everyone elses so they really arent ours, they arent us. The same for our gear. We don't even have to interact with anyone anymore, we have 0 social investment. These things make it very easy to walk away from those games.

I feel part of the reason EVE has added players every year for so long, and been able to retain them is that is has 2 of the 3 tricks i mentioned above. Once EVE finally has that 3rd trick in place CCP will see a large upswing in trials and retention, but they won't see that upswing until the have all thepieces in place (that means they need to restructure the trial experience and establish a solid gameplay foundation ex. the ui/gameplay/game audio synchronization issues first). After the foundation is laid the doors need to open. Avtar gameplay is the soul of trick number three. Look how invested players are right now (buying cloths that they can never even show anyone). If you give them more, if you give them the emotional connection, if you build it, they will come, and they will stay (as long as it's done well naturally Big smile)

From the CSM blogs and recent flood of forum posts I have read I have a feeling CCP is somewhat aware of this. Hopefully EVE is headed in this direction.
Kyle Ward
Doomheim
#2 - 2012-07-05 15:39:37 UTC
Someday others will be blessed to look upon my face - until then I keep my monocle in storage...

The Sandbox, you're playing it wrong!

Acot Voth
State War Academy
Caldari State
#3 - 2012-07-05 16:18:29 UTC
Kyle Ward wrote:
Someday others will be blessed to look upon my face - until then I keep my monocle in storage...


Just one, I keep a pair of them on hand at all times, one never knows when a door my unlock.
FloppieTheBanjoClown
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#4 - 2012-07-05 16:41:41 UTC
Kyle Ward wrote:
Someday others will be blessed to look upon my face - until then I keep my monocle in storage...

Let the monocle shine, brother! Don't deny the simple folk the honor of gazing upon our monocle-clad faces!

Founding member of the Belligerent Undesirables movement.

The Protato
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Caldari State
#5 - 2012-07-05 16:42:26 UTC
FloppieTheBanjoClown wrote:
Kyle Ward wrote:
Someday others will be blessed to look upon my face - until then I keep my monocle in storage...

Let the monocle shine, brother! Don't deny the simple folk the honor of gazing upon our monocle-clad faces!



Together we will ascend to the bar, brethren. For now, goggles will suffice.
Christopher Dulson
Royal Amarr Institute
Amarr Empire
#6 - 2012-07-05 17:03:59 UTC
Many many people are addicted to SP skilling and not the game. Last 12 months ive hardly played but ive never stopped skilling
mxzf
Shovel Bros
#7 - 2012-07-05 17:13:22 UTC
I would argue that the customization and emotional attachment are already there, both in character customization and ship fittings. And personally, I actually have more attachment to some of my ship fittings than any character picture, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are many people like that.

And for clarification, I'm not talking about cookie-cutter fits, I'm talking about those unique oddball fits that you've never heard of anyone else using, but they just work for you. Probably my favorite personal example is my shield-tanked Ishkur fit for exploring; I've never heard of anyone else using the ship like that, but I love flying it around and use it well.

Just throwing out a slightly different point of view. I agree with you in general though, the reason that Eve has so much higher player retention seems to be largely due to the fact that you play for fun, not to grind, and your char takes time and investment to develop, and is therefore harder to just throw away.
Ana Vyr
Vyral Technologies
#8 - 2012-07-05 17:17:42 UTC
Its the skill system. You cannot advance your character any faster no matter how much you play AND the levelling time is effectively endless.
Valerie Tessel
Center for Advanced Studies
Gallente Federation
#9 - 2012-07-05 17:35:07 UTC  |  Edited by: Valerie Tessel
Done wrong, an emotional connection can lead to disgust and feelings of betrayal. "I put all this time into my character 'Bob the Armpit' and then CCP ditched odor emotes... RAGE!"

But yes, I still have fond memories of loping from place to place on my ostrich-like pet in SWG. A kind and tired wookie happened to have a spare, although in handing it over he was concerned over whether it was of low enough level for me to use. Good times.

Tactical destroyers... I'll take a dozen Gallente, please.

Jimmy Gunsmythe
Sebiestor Tribe
#10 - 2012-07-05 18:18:13 UTC
FloppieTheBanjoClown wrote:
Kyle Ward wrote:
Someday others will be blessed to look upon my face - until then I keep my monocle in storage...

Let the monocle shine, brother! Don't deny the simple folk the honor of gazing upon our monocle-clad faces!


Still waiting for the left-eye monocle.

I digress. One of CCP's most glaring tricks for player retention was nerfing the Drake when everyone else was asking for other fixes, like assault frigates and FW. Truly brilliant and unconventional problem solving skills on display for all to see.

John Hancock

Alavaria Fera
Imperial Shipment
#11 - 2012-07-05 18:44:41 UTC
Yeah, I logged in to shoot a station, but turns out some big rifters had already been taking it apart.

And the enemy never showed up. Sheesh.

Triggered by: Wars of Sovless Agression, Bending the Knee, Twisting the Knife, Eating Sov Wheaties, Bombless Bombers, Fizzlesov, Interceptor Fleets, Running Away, GhostTime Vuln, Renters, Bombs, Bubbles ?

Acot Voth
State War Academy
Caldari State
#12 - 2012-07-05 19:51:53 UTC
mxzf wrote:
I would argue that the customization and emotional attachment are already there, both in character customization and ship fittings. And personally, I actually have more attachment to some of my ship fittings than any character picture, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are many people like that.

And for clarification, I'm not talking about cookie-cutter fits, I'm talking about those unique oddball fits that you've never heard of anyone else using, but they just work for you. Probably my favorite personal example is my shield-tanked Ishkur fit for exploring; I've never heard of anyone else using the ship like that, but I love flying it around and use it well.

Just throwing out a slightly different point of view. I agree with you in general though, the reason that Eve has so much higher player retention seems to be largely due to the fact that you play for fun, not to grind, and your char takes time and investment to develop, and is therefore harder to just throw away.


No doubt, players get attached to all kinds of things. I often decide on a "favorite" item and roll with it despite it being less useful, ex. my speeder vs a swoop in SWG or my RFK pig pet in WOW.

Valerie Tessel wrote:
Done wrong, an emotional connection can lead to disgust and feelings of betrayal.


It is definitely a thin line. Done wrong, Trammel, NGE, Monoclegate, the results can be game extreme. I think CCP learned from the prior setback, and I doubt they would make that mistake again. They are a company that seems to make the right, well thought out decision most of the time.
Kunming
WiNGSPAN Delivery Services
WiNGSPAN Delivery Network
#13 - 2012-07-05 20:03:23 UTC
Its because EVE is a virtual reality, there are many goals just like in life but no definite goal, and many tools to achieve them.

On a more detailed note; what I really would like to see is some kind of customization in research and industry, and corps getting their own brand, f.ex "CyberShield Inc Thorax" has -20% shield but +15% PG... I'm aware this sort of thing would be a programing and database nightmare but customized crafting is something that's been missing from EVE since the beginning. And would really revolutionize industry in EVE from bottleneck resource monopolizing to actually trying to bring out good and interesting products.