Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 19, 2013
 
29 accounts?

The Nosy Gamer regularly reports on CCP's "War on Bots" in EVE Online. I don't follow the discussion very closely. But in his latest post I stumbled over a quote: "Hmmm. 26 of my 29 accounts banned for APHack use. After using it for 4+ years. See you 19 May Eve… if ever again…".

Now I was aware that due to the fact that in EVE Online only one character per account gains skills, many people have multiple accounts. Which is why CCP *never* reports number of players, but only number of accounts, because that looks better. But I had thought that the average player had 2 accounts, and then a few players had 4 to 6. So 29 accounts appears rather excessive to me. That of course is not a question of money. I presume that these accounts paid for themselves by producing more than 1 PLEX per month through botting.

So now I'm wondering how many actual EVE Online players there really are, if people have so many accounts. And I wonder what happens to the game if CCP succeeds to ban all those people with lots of botting accounts. Both the in-game economy as well as the real economy for PLEX might be affected if you remove thousands of accounts that bot-mine for PLEX.

I would even entertain the weird thought that bots are good for EVE Online. Because the alternative would be forcing players to mine. Which is not a very fun activity.

Comments:
Are there actually companies that release the number of players instead of accounts? You make it sound like CCP is the exception to the rule.
 
Little Known Fact 839: There are only 23 people who have ever played Eve Online. You're one of them. The rest just sound human to lull you into not searching for the other twenty-two. Lonely? You should be.
 
You make it sound like CCP is the exception to the rule.

The exception is not CCP reporting, but the average number of accounts per player. For most games the number of accounts is only marginally higher than the number of players, because there isn't much of an advantage to having multiple accounts. EVE Online is exceptional in that you progress offline on one character per account, and thus progress 29 times faster with 29 accounts than with just one of them (minus diminishing returns of course).
 
Maybe the $15/month price point for MMO subs needs to be looked at. I know I have 3 Eve Online accounts, but at $12/month on the 6-month plan I figure it's a bargain. And yes, I pay cash and not in PLEX.
 
I love the posts where you troll on EVE. But then....all I can say about EVE is that it's the only MMO that made me more productive in RL. I got so much reading and work done while "playing" that game it was amazing.
 
The really sound like a troll directed at Syncaine. ;-)

But you are wrong on one point : for CCP the important part is number of account because every account is paid in money or PLEX, and PLEX can only be created through Money. So in the end, what is important is the number of account.

But where you are right, is that banning a lot of bot - or botlike - will have an impact on economy. Will this impact be good or bad ? No idea !
 
"So now I'm wondering how many actual EVE Online players there really are, if people have so many accounts."

A lot less players than the "full loot pvp MMO" religion want believe.

Anyway, that explain the discrepancy that XFire numbers have with CCP account numbers.
 
I'm actually more surprised, looking at the article, that all these people are blithely admitting that they use hacks, and then going on to be upset about getting banned.

I mean, who does that? It's almost like if one of my coworkers were to idly mention to me that his overtime was really cutting into his cannibalism and incest time. I mean, really, I don't even know what to say to someone like that. o.O
 
Everybody uses shady counting methods to make the game look more successful, from WoW on down.

 
This actually came up in a comment on another Nosy Gamer post.

http://nosygamer.blogspot.com/2013/03/ccp-reaches-another-milestone.html?showComment=1362319732321#c4556106907645234172

CCP was apparently telling the CSM that the ratio was a little over 2 accounts per person playing overall, while TEST and Goonswarm internal audits showed about 2.5 accounts per person.
 
CCP is also the only MMO company that I know of that has "power of two" sales to promote multiple accounts.

Remember also that since EVE is p2w, some people have accounts they just use to off-line train pilots that they sell.

@Michael: if you tell your coworkers you are a canibal, they are much less likely to steal your food.

----

Another big "spin" that MMO companies do is "worldwide subs". Nothing first-world/racist, its just that with the different pay models in Asia, you can be counted as a WoW subscriber by spending a couple of dollars that month. So if WoW loses 300k Occidental subs and gains 600k Asia there press release shows a gain but revenue went down. Similarly, people compare CCP's post-Apocrapha sub numbers with now without the asterisk that the current sub numbers are worldwide.
 
(Disclaimer: I don't actually support botting)

Eve actually seems like one of the games where botting makes sense and fits into the world. Why wouldn't corporations send out automated ships to mine large belts of minerals instead of sending real pilots? Pilots are expensive, and the work is tedious enough that it can easily be automated.
 
One could take Prunetracy's argument even further: CCP should ban anyone who is *not* botting. If you are not botting it is because you are either a lazy casual or because you believe in playing fairly and not taking advantage of the other players. If the latter, you clearly misunderstood EVE.

If your target audience is people behaving badly, then there is no reason to go all "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" when they in fact behave badly.

 
I think the average account count is around 1.5. Again, sub-consciously you fall for the "average player is average" mistake. Clearly there are hundreds with more than a dozen account (me being one). If the account vs person is a normal distribution, than the average player must have 4-6 to allow such players to be in the 1-2 sigma distance from the average and not 8-10 sigma.

However there are 2 distinct groups: one has 1 account ad struggles to make ends meet. The recent expansions made playing with the cheapest ships (frigates and T1 cruisers) more fun. These were very successful as they bettered the experience of these players.

The other group has multiple accounts, supercapitals, plays for free.

Please notice that none of the nullsec doctrines are either skill-point intensive or assume more than one account, but they all have reimbursements for lost ships exactly because the majority of the nullsec grunts have one account and is poor like the dirt.
 
I think the average account count is around 1.5.

So even with a link to an official statement that the average is above 2, and two independent measurements finding 2.5, you just pull a number out of your ass and tell us that this is what we have to believe in? How very Gevlon of you!
 
Gevlon could very well be correct if he used "median" instead of "average".

The people with 5+ accounts are going to drag the average upwards. Consider a situation like:

Anna - 1 account
Betty - 1 account
Charity - 1 account
Danielle - 1 account
Elizabeth - 6 accounts

The average number of accounts per person is 2. But that average number is not meaningful and bears no relationship to the players involved because the distribution is not symmetrical.

I think Gevlon is right. Of the set of people who play Eve, I would wager that the majority of them only have 1 account.
 
Yes, but if you want to find out how many players EVE Online has, you need to divide the number of accounts by the average accounts per player, not by the median. So EVE has between 200,000 and 250,000 players.
 
And 200 to 250 k players is more in line with what XFire is showing...

I will use that argument each time I see an EVE online players saying "XFire not merasure EVE correctly".
 
There are no new players in EVE, just alts. Assuming that this anti-botting initiative is successful, it would be interesting what this does to the price of a PLEX.

It is fair to assume that a significant number of bot accounts are run via PLEX. Remove these you reduce demand for PLEX. To my limited understanding of economics, I would assume that this would also depress the ingame currency value of a PLEX too.

There are other players who get their ingame currency via buying PLEX with real cash and selling it. If the Isk price of PLEX drops, then so does the amount of ingame currency you can buy for each unit of game time.

What would make this even more interesting is if this would crash the whole PLEX market by killing demand. But I doubt that is the case.
 
I think botting is always bad for a game. An argument that Eve needs bots to do repetitive manual work so players don't have to falls flat when you analyse the Eve player base. Most players prefer to spend most of their activity mining and ratting over pvping. So there certainly would still be ships for us pvpers to fly if there were no bots.

What botters do is reduce the reward received by normal players doing repetitive isk-making play and trade that reward off to cheating players who want in-game rewards without work, either by botting personally or by buying illegal game money off a third party site. The people who lose out are casual regular players who have to mine longer to get the buying power they deserve. This is because they receive less for the rocks they mine because the price is deflated by multiple-alt botters.

Fortunately CCP has close to zero tolerance for botters and has taken great strides in cleaning up the game.
 
" For most games the number of accounts is only marginally higher than the number of players, because there isn't much of an advantage to having multiple accounts."

This is incorrect. There have been many MMOs in which having multiple accounts was beneficial. Those created around when EVE was created were notorious for this, e.g., having healer classes being so simple to play that every just had a healer account following them around healing them, controlled by a simple macro system( not a bot, just a macro that hit 1 or 2 buttons on the mostly hidden healer window) Recent games have tried to minimize this, as this playstyle was perceived as being unfair to mainstream players who wanted to roleplay just 1 account.

"EVE Online is exceptional in that you progress offline on one character per account, and thus progress 29 times faster with 29 accounts than with just one of them (minus diminishing returns of course)."

No one playing with 29 accounts thinks of themselves as "progressing 29 times faster". Someone playing that many accounts barely even cares how many SP they have, because mining doesn't take that many SP. I would assume they're just training alts to sell on those accounts, and leaving their putative mains with low SP. If you think that SP = progression in EVE, then you clearly haven't played it long enough to get even a basic familiarity with the world. The controls maybe, but not how the game world works.



 
"For most games the number of accounts is only marginally higher than the number of players, because there isn't much of an advantage to having multiple accounts."

With WoW there are certainly many people with more than one account, but there are probably a lot of players who share accounts too. For example if you have several people in one family who are happy to play at different times, they can even all have ten alts on different realms.


 
When discussing the 'full loot FFA PVP' target demographic, I find that EVE online is frequently trotted out as a huge success with 400-450k players, but the PVE market of literally MILLIONS is treated as some annoyingly inconvenient trick, smoke and mirrors.

There are far fewer people out there who actually enjoy the FFA PVP sandbox than is imagined by people who enjoy it. Anything that rams that truth home might help reduce the number of struggling, indie, shitty full-PVP sandbox MMOs being developed under the illusion that they can reach EVE's 'roaring success' (read: exception to the rule, that PVP sandboxes usually die slow, sad, lonely deaths).

God, with the systems and depth and customization and various possibilities that EVE has, I wonder how a PVE version could do... Something that doesn't cater almost exclusively to assholes.
 
"When discussing the 'full loot FFA PVP' target demographic, I find that EVE online is frequently trotted out as a huge success with 400-450k players, but the PVE market of literally MILLIONS is treated as some annoyingly inconvenient trick, smoke and mirrors."

LoL is a PVP-fantasy/combat game with something like 100 times the player activity of EVE, and much more player activity than WoW. The thing that keeps EVE small isn't PVP/assholishness(sorry to break the news to you, but the most popular video games, the ones which are much more popular than WoW, are typically filled with assholes), but the fact that it is spreadsheets in space, and much of the gameplay, in all seriousness, consists of zooming out to where everything is a red, white, or purple cross, and hitting buttons at a slow pace.


"God, with the systems and depth and customization and various possibilities that EVE has, I wonder how a PVE version could do... Something that doesn't cater almost exclusively to assholes."

While I would love to play a good PVE sandbox, EVE minus PVP would be a horrible, horrible game. No ships would ever be lost, the economy would die, and the economy is the only reason to PVE in EVE.
 
The comment you're referring to is obviously from a botter who used botting tool and got his accounts banned.
Of course it's ok for a botter to have 29 accounts because they are fully automated.
But try to actually play on 29 accounts and you may find you lack the time for sleep.

Bottom-line: botters may have 29 accounts or more but active players won't. They will have as much accounts as they need and can manage effectively (human brain can simultaneously operate no more than 7+/-2 objects after all).

Of course, there are exceptions like Gevlon who has accounts he doesn't actually play, just trains the character for sale on the character market.
 
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