Thursday, July 16, 2015

How much time do you need for EVE?

Just before my vacation, I came across an interesting question on Reddit: "reasons you quit EVE". It's been a long time I wanted to write a post about time investment and EVE. Time to time similar posts pop up. Checking comments, I have noticed that time is always mentioned as one of the biggest obstacles to play this game. To understand why it is such an issue, lets take a look at  EVE's distribution of players age. Graph shows us that majority of players are from 26 to 36 years old (50%).  The absolute majority 85% is from early twenties to mid forties. You can check out reddit post from CCP Quant.

Most players that are early-mid twenties are probably finishing universities and starting their careers. Having full-time job already starts putting quite big limitations. Besides average 8 hour work week, you may spend 1-2 hours getting ready and commuting. That is already 10 hours of 24. Deducting 8 hours of sleep and we are left with only 6 hours free to use as we please. 6 hours is not a lot. It can melt very fast when doing various activities, such as socializing, going out, cooking, cleaning, reading news, watching tv, playing other games.

If we go up the ladder from late twenties to early thirties, it is time when a lot of people start families. They get first or second newborns, get married or just simply starts life with their SO. This alone will take a big cut out of 6 hours pie. A good example is a recent blog post from Scaurus at justforcrits. He wrote how he just had a daughter (congratulations!) and how family responsibilities combined with work leaves almost no room for gaming, let alone writing about it. A lot of people are going through this struggle. In my own early corp I lost a good friend to inactivity due to family reasons. He really loved EVE, but sometimes it takes too much energy to keep pressure on this little time box and sooner or later it just pops out.

Going from mid thirties to mid forties for some it may be easier, when kids are old enough that doesn't need babysitting and parenting is not an new thing, however family responsibilities doesn't go anywhere this category will struggle with time just as much as other categories.

Being engaged in EVE

I've been playing EVE for 5 years. While I started in my early twenties and being very active, I am now struggling more and more when at my very late twenties. EVE is not a game like Counter-Strike or Battlefield, that you just log in, shoot someone for a few rounds and be done with it. It's not a Dota or Starcraft that has quite fixed time for a match. It is an MMO. By it's concept you normally have to invest time to have a rewarding experience. Sure you can do some activities that can fit in a short time frame, though those activities in most cases are PVE and may not be very engaging. PVP side of things usually takes much more time. If you want to be a part of a corp or 'something' it can really become a time sink. There are no insta-pvp arenas and you always have to work to get a fight or a kill. Not to mention all extra steps you need to do such as fitting ship, buying modules, transporting, warping. The very everyday things eat your time little by little and suddenly you realize your evening vanished just like that.

There is no cure. Time investment is what makes EVE appealing. Scoring that billion worth of kill mail would not be the same if such amount could be gained with just few clicks by anyone. The fact remains, that people in my mentioned categories have to cut something out. Some have EVE as only or most serious hobby, some try to dedicate as little as possible by doing non demanding activities, others deal with it by playing train your skill online and logging in only occasionally on free Saturday or lazy evening. Unfortunately (or fortunately), a lot of people decide to just let it go by letting their subscription lapse. For them, to have a rewarding EVE experience, they simply need the time they don't have.

Decaying community

If we take a look at eve-offline data for players logged, we can see a trend of numbers dropping.

Sure there will be a lot of people explaining this with unsatisfying expansions, rule changes such as banning broadcasting, lacking of innovation and etc. But the fact is we are at the lowest point since 2007. EVE's population is aging. Players that started in their teenage years or early twenties have now their lives changed drastically. It would make sense that these people will log in less and less. I am concerned that this can turn into exponential drop. Some of those players were a part of circles. Circles decrease, more people will find less incentive to log in. Less activity will make even more people abandon their hobby. Circles will break and EVE will feel more empty. Socializing and community is what made this game so successful and survive more than a decade. If these social circles will drop at faster rate than new ones are formed it may be hard times for CCP ahead. Nosy Gamer covered subscription numbers in his post on March where he concluded 18% drop.

In my opinion, at some point, CCP will need to make drastic changes. Personally, I am not too happy with how some of things are. Starting with warp changes where ships larger than Battlecruiser warp so slow that it feels like a someone spat to your face. While I do agree with logic, it really does not make fun for me to do occasional logistics or move battleships around. As someone who scans frequently, it also is very annoying when I can't get signature type for some hard to scan cases, making me waste a lot of time looking for wormhole connections. I could go on with the list for a long time, but these are few examples that show why EVE is such a huge time sink and less people have luxury to play it. While universe has to be harsh and not easy, CCP has to start thinking how to decrease time waste on non fun, but essential things. Some steps are into the right direction, like saving scanning probes formation and having opportunity to mass sell items. Some steps may not be, like upcomming fleet warp changes. Making it more of a pain in the ass is not making it more engaging.


  1. I started playing Eve when I was 31, when my daughter was born. I found that having kids kept my wife and I in the house much earlier, and while there, we were looking for something to do (two unemployments didn't hurt my Eve time very much, either). Thus, Eve.

    But keep in mind, while players are aging out, we have a whole new generation aging in. And that's something we can't overlook. Eve is still a very appealing game, but it requires a constant stream of new blood to keep it vibrant. It's happening - CCP's marketing campaigns continue to run, and "This Is Eve" had to have been a huge help. Just gotta keep it running.

    1. You do have a good point and I really hope that fresh new blood stream will only grow. But I am getting concerned as new generation might be too spoiled with graphics and quick gratification plays. EVE was always a niche game. I'm just afraid it might not be so appealing for new guys, with so many amazying games being pumped out. When EVE started and for a certain period forward it was an MMO age. Everyone and their mother was playing one. I really hope my gut is wrong and drop in active players will stop soon.