In case you have missed it, EvE Online has been around for more than a decade. Usually described as the hard-core, relentless life-eater of MMOs, it has nevertheless managed to survive much more successful names out there. Recently, the game received a free-to-play mode which means you are no longer limited by a two-week demo, rather you are limited by the skills you can learn. The developer, CCP, has been working hard on helping new players adapt to the demanding sandbox they have created.
Andie Nordgren, the executive producer since 2014, talked about the difficulty of recommending a game with a subscription fee to other people. Even though the fee can be paid with in-game currency, it is still an obligation for several months. “You feel kind of bad for asking your friends to check it out unless you’re super convinced it’s going to be totally for them,” he says.
One of the greatest problems with the game was how to teach players and get them into the dangers of nullsec, the area of the game where there is no NPC protection, only cold vastness of space and other players ready to pounce on you. It is this area that gives birth to all the EvE Online stories of betrayal and backstabbing superspies that fill the gaming news every once in a while. One of the solutions to the problem, apart from the players organizing themselves, is the PvE, considered by many to be stale and predictable. Nordgren say that they have worked hard on changing it. “What’s going on with this new type of AI is [a desire] to create a new type of PvE that is more interesting in the moment-to-moment gameplay. You actually have to maneuver on the battlefield and respond and react in the moment.”
The free-to-play system has actually brought a lot of new players into the ecosystem. It remains to be seen whether CCP will be able to keep them engaged enough for them to pass into the “paying” ranks and join those who are creating EvE’s actual history.