Friday, October 24, 2014

Should EVE Have Longer Trials? Yes, Probably

In short, trial account players will have far more options available when trying EVE, including sending and receiving isk, doing higher-end PVE such as level 3-4 missions or incursions, and, something I've advocated for a while, and will be able to join faction war. There is also a host of skill changes for trial accounts, opening up PI, battlecruisers, and tech 2 frigates, but limiting weapons to tech 1 variants and so on. This allows trial account players to experience more and progress further in the game than they currently can. 

With so many fundamental restriction removed, however, it begs a bigger question for EVE: Should trial accounts only be limited to 14 (or 21) days? Why not extend trial accounts to upwards of 1-2 months? Why not even allow trials to be unlimited, but have a hard-cap on skill points? Consider the following:

In one of the best presentations at the last fanfest, CCP Rise's presentation on the NPE, Rise noted that "after one month of playing, 50% of new players leave, 40% head to solo/mission experiences, and the final 10% move towards larger player corporations. This final 10% joins fleets, are on more kills, and are engaged with the game." Players who stay are the players who find a niche--particularly those who join player corporations and do group activities (but it wasn't clear during this presentation whether the larger solo/mission runner group results in less players staying in EVE overall--in any case, they are important, too, since apparently 40% of new players go that route).

EVE is a slow game. It takes a long time to learn. It takes a long time to train a variety of skills. And for most players it takes a long time to enjoy--it is an acquired taste, requiring multiple attempts at the game for many players who finally get hooked. 21 days is not very many skills, and certainly not much time to sufficiently try out different aspects of the game while also managing its large learning curve. A longer trial period might also encourage vets to add more alt accounts. So why not have 1-2 month trials? EVE certainly needs the players.

But what if the ACU count continues its steady decline? What if we get to a point where the weekends are lucky to see 25,000 players online? It is not that EVE has slowly gotten worse over the years: in the past three years alone it has come so far, and in almost every respect is a far better game than it used to be. 

Drastic measures would need to be taken to get the game growing again, fundamentally changing how new players are treated. Maybe the game, in such a state, would need to have unlimited trials--embracing a sort of free to play but not free to skill-train model--or perhaps it would need to grant new players a few million skill points to reduce the tedious period when one starts the game but cannot do many activities. If you've ever watched twitch streams of new players starting EVE, it is painfully obvious to see how the numerous skill barriers prevent them from having an enjoyable time. Are drastic measures--whatever they be--needed now? Depending on how these next few releases go, they at least might be needed soon.

1 comment:

  1. What I get out of that is of the 50% of new players who stay longer than one month, 80% of those "head to solo/mission experiences" while only 20% of them "move towards larger player organizations".

    If CCP wants to retain more new players maybe should start thinking about designing content for the 80% rather than the 20%.