Saturday, May 08, 2010
So just how big is the hardcore PvP market?
Today ends "PvP week" on Tobold's MMORPG blog, a week that showed among other things that you don't even need to log into your favorite game to do PvP, any blog site will do! But thanks to some commenters I also learned something really interesting about the number of players who actually do play PvP in EVE: According to CCP themselves, in numbers published in their Quarterly Economic Newsletter from Q4 2009, 88.7% of characters are in empire space, and only 11.3% of players are in PvP nullsec space. With nullsec having more star systems than empire space, the population density in empire space is actually 20 times higher than in nullsec! Furthermore in a previous newletter CCP said that half of their players had never ever left highsec. Oh, and 95% of EVE players are male, go figure.
Why is that so interesting? Because if you don't consider population distribution, EVE is actually an oddity: A successful hardcore PvP game. Scott Jennings chronicled the long history of PvP game failures on MMORPG.com from Shadowbane going belly up to today in a series of three posts. Recent news told about Fallen Earth reducing staff from 110 to 35, including kicking out 28 core game developers, which doesn't look as if they were all that successful. Darkfall stagnated all year, and even with the $1 trial still only has under 22k players on both servers together. Mortal Online missed it's end of March release date, and then missed it's end of April release date as well. Early previews say that Mortal Online is exactly like Darkfall, only with better graphics, which combined with general desire of people to try out the new stuff might well end up "ganking" Darkfall into shutting down. But I doubt MO will ever get even 50,000 players.
So how do some "PvP games" like EVE get to 330,000 players and keep growing over years? Well, the same way Ultima Online still survives: By introducing Trammel. Or having high sec space in the game from the start. Players *are* willing to play in harsh PvP environments, as long as they get an option to opt out of it. And when they get that option, at any given moment 80% to 90% of players will populate the safe part of the the game, and only 10% to 20% of players will be in the dangerous PvP part. Suddenly those 330,000 EVE players turn out to be only 50,000 PvP players, unless of course you want to count everybody who ever went into unsafe space as a PvP player.
So 50,000 is about the most even a really good hardcore PvP game can hope to achieve. If you want to get into the hundreds of thousands of players, you need to do like EVE, UO, WAR, or AoC, and add extensive PvE parts to your game in which the players are reasonably safe (Or move to Asia). Even the fiercest warrior wants to relax in peace once in a while, or even most of the time.