Thursday, 13 October 2011

EVE Online CEO - "I was wrong and I admit it"

CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson takes himself to task over the direction and multiple problems that have been plaguing EVE Online. Is this an honest attempt to make amends? A PR stunt? Does it even matter? Read on to get my take on his letter to the community.

EVE Online is undoubtedly a huge online force, but things haven't been alright on the home front for quite some time, something that's obvious even to me: someone with only a little knowledge of the game and who is only tangentially informed of all the events going on.

Perhaps the largest issue recently was roll-out of microtransactions for items that seemed for the most part arbitrarily overpriced and pointless. The now infamous 68 dollar monocle is something that a lot of gamers -- even the ones that didn't play EVE and know a lick about it's economy or background -- knew was ridiculous.

I know that I'm nowhere near the best person to be talking about this subject. But really, given all the hubris that has been occurring lately (I'm looking at you, Sony) I can't help but find it refreshing, perhaps even somewhat uplifting, when the man in charge of a company comes forth with what looks like a sincere apology to the people that he's burned but that he depends on for his livelihood.

Some might say that this is a PR stunt calculated to stop any potential hemorrhaging of a less than pleased user-base, but looking at the contents of the letter I personally at least have to think otherwise. There's a lot of commentary that Petursson gives which didn't need to be said, or at least not in the fashion that he said it. I'm not saying that there isn't the tinge of a calculated move here, just that I don't honestly think that it's the primary motivation in this case. When I see something like this:

"Somewhere along the way, I began taking success for granted. As hubris set in, I became less inclined to listen to pleas for caution. Red flags raised by very smart people both at CCP and in the community went unheeded because of my stubborn refusal to allow adversity to gain purchase on our plans. Mistakes, even when they were acknowledged, often went unanalyzed, leaving the door open for them to be repeated."

To me that doesn't scream "well orchestrated PR gamble" it says "man realizes that he's fucked up, wants to make amends". His letter addresses what seem to be the biggest standing concerns in the community with an air of humility that appears genuine. He might be the CEO of the company, but he's also one of the people that was there "giving birth" to this franchise, and perhaps, just perhaps, the recent outcries have not fallen on deaf ears. If this letter is genuine, then it could mean a turnaround for EVE. They've doubtless lost players over this, certainly, but I think the admission of wrongdoing is, if nothing else, a step in the right direction.

Like I mentioned, I'm looking in at this whole thing from an outside perspective. I haven't even logged a single hour into EVE. But, to me that really isn't important. The thing that is important -- to me at least -- is seeing that even a big guy can own up and admit that things have been poorly handled, and tell the gamers that cried foul that, shockingly, they were right. It'd be nice if more companies actually did that when they were actually in the wrong.

Yeah, that'll probably happen when a couple days after I get crowned the next Queen of England.

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