2012: New Recruits

In this, the last of the 2012 posts, I want to take a look at the single most important element of 2012 for Eve - getting new subscribers.  That statement being solely predicated on the assumption that the upcoming Winter Expansion and the adoption of my predictions for 2012 are in the bag, which will stabilize the subscriber base. But we don't want stability, we want growth.

So how do we get new people to not only try Eve but, more importantly, subscribe to Eve? Arguably the most complex, dense, non-inviting, dark, dangerous, incomprehensible and intimidating MMO based on a not-super popular niche genre game on the planet?

Whew. Luckily, I've had more difficult assignments. Try convincing people to give you their internal organs someday! Talk about difficult.

Getting those new subscribers is going to take some hard work, luck and serious strategic and tactical planning, but it can be done. The entire plan hinges on several important factors that need to happen to help it along:

1) We need walking, interacting Avatars in Eve.
You all know I am a huge FiS player and couldn't care less about WiS, but it is crucial to further growth of our beloved game. This is the whole reason why CCP went down this road in the first place - and I mean before WOD and DUST. Go back to the original idea, the original dream, and make it happen. A game without people in it is a turn-off to the vast majority of potential players.

There are 2 smart things about DUST. First of all it is set in the Eve Universe. And while that won't directly help subscribers come into the MMO Eve (Consol vs Comp, we all know the debate there. And while there will be some cross traffic, it won't be much). However, there will be a tremendous indirect benefit if DUST is even slightly successful. Taking advantage of that will require some clever PR/Marketing, but it can be done. Secondly, DUST is on the PS3, and while that might make some XBox people angry it is huge for the potential rewards... IN ASIA. Heck, XBox is considering not even selling in Japan next year. The Asian market is the largest single potential source of new players for Eve. See a connection here?

So we have further WiS development happening in the Spring which will coincide with DUST hitting the shelves (or should) and then tons of new players will jump on board the Eve train?  Well, no.  It isn't going to be that easy.

There will be a new sub bump in the Spring when these things happen. Heck, there will be a new sub bump at the end of this year from the Winter Expansion. Some of that will be re-subs though, but still, this is looking like a great FiS expansion so CCP will reap some benefits. Maybe 4-5%? Hard to say at the moment. ( The global economy has so much to do with all of this tbh. Family, Shelter, Food, Transportation, Entertainment and then some other stuff and then Eve - it is pretty far down the list.)

CCP has always done a good job with the promotional push, the offers, the bundles, the friends referrals, the incentives. And they have worked to make the new player experience better over the years. Increased training speeds, better tutorials, etc., all have made scary starter Eve less scary for the new player.

I actually have a lot of ideas in regards to the new player experience (so this actually might not be the last post about 2012 after all), but I have one new one that came to me this morning that I'd like to share first.

I call the idea SANCTUARY. Every race has its rookie systems, for me it was Todaki up in Caladri space. ( Oh Todaki we adore you, blinky lights of Gold... sorry, memories of the HS fight song. ) So each Rookie system becomes a Sanctuary system designed to protect Rookies from any potential harm while they are engaged in the Rookie tutorial program. Once a Rookie signs up for the training tutorials they are immune to harm within the Rookie system. The Rookie Training system would need some updates to take advantage of this, I see Rookie combat arenas being set-up to teach basic PvP skills - were Rookies can fight other Rookies IN SHIPS THEY CAN'T FLY YET! And this is the critical part, give them (within the context of the training program) the opportunity to train against each other in Cruisers, Battlecruisers and then Battleships. This is the great tease, the promise of what is to come, the destination objective. Train hard, work hard and one day soon you can fly this ship.

I liken this to the Danger Room from the X-Men comic books. This only works given some major overhauls of the Training Program, but it could be a relatively easy way for new players to be introduced to game mechanics, possible career paths (The PvP element wouldn't be the only one, you could easily set up scenarios in other paths. Imagine a tutorial where a veteran player falls ill and cannot deliver vital goods in his Providence, and it is up to the Rookie to do it! The mind races at the possibilities!)

Being a Rookie in Eve should be hard, we all did it. And I'd be the last person to suggest taking that away, but we also need to make the initial experience impact meaningful enough that they want to stay on course. Making the new player experience into a sort of "mini-game" on its own would be one way to accomplish that.

And then kick them out into the real universe to be killed.

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