BB52: The Graph is a Lie

For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.

What's on the other side of that plateau? 

Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that 'never' is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.

Out here in the real world a significant part of my professional career is looking at huge piles of data, charts, findings, statistics and whatnot - and then pulling the truth out of them. In many cases millions of dollars are riding on my ability to find the nugget of truth, the sliver of hope, the endless opportunities buried within statistics and data. And I happen to be very, very good at it.

I've been seeing this chart bantered about for a long time now and I can tell you straight up - this chart is bullshit. It is BS of the highest order and flies fully in the face of correlation and causation. It is an island of data in an empty sea of missing, vital, and more important information that we simply do not have.

As the mere existence of this banter proves, many people look at this evil chart and draw the natural - but most likely erroneous - correlation that Eve has hit a plateau. This is not because they are stupid, but simply because data doesn't exist in a vacuum. They then draw the natural cause from this data and determine that Eve must be dying, or at the very least slowing its growth. And while there remains the possibility that this is true, there remains a vast and undetermined possibility that the opposite is actually true. In fact, the opposite is much more likely to be true.

This chart shows server usage over time. Are they the same users? Or different users? This is missing data number one and it is an extremely important piece of information. In my experience running Stay Frosty, I've seen a tremendous amount of long-term subs who haven't played Eve in a long, long time. We have several young players that have been subbed since 2007, but haven't logged in much since then. This chart doesn't account for returning players because they are buried within it. What is the rate of long-term subs returning to activity? Is it on the rise?

Eve is over a decade old, few people play any game for ten years!! And to expect them to do so is rather strange. So turn-over is another vital piece of missing information buried within this single data point. Turn-over is vital and depicts "trend" in a way that few other data points can do. What exactly is the rate of deactivated subs versus new subs? I dunno. It might very well be rather staggering.  Again, based on what I've seen in my travels, there sure are an awful lot of 2013 and 2014 pilots out in space.

I could go on and on. The point being that much like this example, it is rather easy to get caught up in single point data and jump to erroneous conclusions. We all do it. But it is dangerous to flirt with ignorance.

There can be no doubt however that Eve is in transition. As I said before, it is over a decade old now and the following year or so is going to be critical for its long-term stability or growth. [ As an aside, let us not be so quick to poo-poo the strength to be found in stability. That chart shows a tremendous power in Eve's ability to be stable over time. And that is an extremely positive thing. ]  But yes, Eve is in a transitional period. Will it continue to attract new players and retain older players? Will it continue to do so at a reasonable rate?

Eve is never going to be WoW, or draw the numbers of Candy Crush. But it also doesn't even need to do that. It has existed for over a decade already and, if anything, that evil chart shows it has the strength built in to survive and flourish for another decade at least.

Eve is better now than it has ever been. That message needs to be shouted from the rooftops. How and why and when it continues to grow, expand, and evolve remains a mystery to us all. Based on what we've seen over the past two years, the foundation has been laid for continued success. Now is the time for CCP to step up to the plate and show the world that Eve is here to stay.

Plateau? Maybe. Anything is possible. But this chart doesn't prove anything one way or the other.

For more Banters, please visit the Blog Banter #52 page.