by CCP Hellmar11:45am on Wednesday 6th May 2020
Dear EVE Online community,
17 years ago on the 6th of May 2003, a universe was born. I remember this day very well despite weeks of sleep deprivation. It was a bit of an unassuming moment after the armageddon that was the end of the open beta. At 17 years of age, if EVE was a teenager in Iceland we´d be celebrating it having achieved its pilot’s license! A remarkable occasion in so many ways, and my deepest congratulations and thanks to the millions of players and thousands of CCP Employees that have continued propelling EVE to new heights with each year that passes!
Just over a month ago, during the month of my 20th anniversary working for CCP, I wrote to you about the start of a new edition of the PLEX for GOOD program and gave you an update on CCP.
To celebrate EVE’s birthday, I wanted to give you another update on the PLEX For GOOD drive, as well as share more news on EVE and CCP with you.
As you saw in the most recent episode of the Pulse, the President of Iceland addressed EVE players and endorsed the fantastic work you have done so far on the PLEX for GOOD collection for COVID-19. The program will continue to run at least throughout June – this is longer than any other PLEX for GOOD campaign we’ve run in the past, but the nature of the threat is extraordinary. Virtual Masks are making their way into New Eden and will be a reward for everyone who donates. As on so many occasions before, you have exceeded everyone’s expectations – so far we’ve managed to collect over 100,000 USD for the fight against COVID-19! Given the current global economic situation, not everyone has the option to donate. With or without donating, we can all play an important role during these challenging times by following the advice of experts, protecting and thanking our healthcare workers, wearing a mask (when applicable), and flying safe.
We will also be adding another donation option for the overall collection, as it has been a popular request from the community. Donors can specify that their contribution should go to the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS) (in the description window when they create a contract). Given the wide and deep scope of the impact we are dealing with, we would love to hear suggestions from the community on a potential 3rd option.
On the topic of exceeding expectations and accomplishing amazing things, it's time to talk about Project Discovery again. The team at Massively Multiplayer Online Science has been our partner in Project Discovery since the beginning. In this amazing citizen science project we have, with you, tackled protein folding to help with the Human Protein Atlas in phase one, searched for exoplanets in phase two, and now we are hoping for phase three to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. We will be releasing more details as they are ironed out. In the meantime, you can join Folding@home like many of us at CCP are doing.
We are seeing both old and new players flock to EVE Online. EVE players have been extremely welcoming towards all the new Capsuleers coming in, and this has never been more important than it is now, with so many people from around the world having to stay physically distant from the rest of the world. Physical distance does not, however, have to mean social isolation, and the way in which Capsuleers have responded in the past weeks is the best birthday present EVE could ever have wished for.
We have also seen the veteran community come together and help each other during these difficult times. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. Use the resilience that you EVE players are renowned for to help the pilots around you.
EVE China re-launched last month and has since been growing in players very quickly. In fact, it has been growing to such a degree that at this pace, the two servers might soon be at a similar size. We’ve also had to make some adjustments as some new player systems on Serenity have been experiencing TiDi!
We have seen an increase in the variety of countries that new players are coming from. This is one of the benefits of scaling up our marketing efforts this year, with new and unexpected sources of players being found. Just imagine all the countries and regions we can bring into our community. Territorial expansion through localization, marketing and support is another aspect of our strategy and it is starting to show results – as can be seen by our entry into the Korean market in November last year.
Regarding the long-term plan for EVE, the vision is to have EVE outlive us all. In order to accomplish that, we are setting EVE up to flourish in its third decade. That means investments in improving the early experience for new players, putting foundational and sometimes challenging work into the EVE ecosystem, investing in the technological infrastructure of EVE and continuously challenging our core with updates, delivered through the new Quadrant plan.
On that note, we are in the middle of the second Quadrant, Eclipse, and planning for Quadrant 3 is well underway. The Quadrant system has given us a solid framework to increase the speed of our releases and make sure that there is always something new happening in New Eden. The Invasion trilogy that started last year, both in New Eden when the Triglavians invaded known space, and when CCP invaded 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 months, will see the beginning of the end starting in May when the first part of Chapter 3 goes live.
The war on botting continues and has never been more decisive. We are hitting botters hard as ISK from suspected sources has been reduced by 90% since the Chaos Era kicked off last summer - and we see the impact we are having on RMTers. Detailed information can be found in the regular security blogs as well as many of the Pulse videos, which have been coming out at an increased cadence. If you buy illegally obtained ISK, you are a part of the problem, and we - or Sentinel, our anti-cheat detection tool - will come after you.
Our journey of improved first steps for new players continues. We have made great progress there, but this is a long journey with many different components. 2.5x as many people logged into EVE for the first time in the first four months of 2020 vs the same period in 2019. We are not only seeing the number of people trying out EVE for the first time increase, but their first play sessions are getting longer and longer as we improve the early game, and we are seeing more of them turn into hardened Capsuleers.
We are investing in the technological foundations of EVE. Transitioning EVE to be fully 64-bit was an important step, and I wish to thank all of you pioneers who helped make that happen. We are now working on recompiling the whole codebase of EVE, upgrading to Visual Studio 2019, and we are adding more hardware to increase the power of our servers.
On the CCP front, our preparations - as well as a healthy dose of luck - have resulted in no one at CCP contracting COVID-19 so far. Our team at the China studio have been back at the office since early March, lots of masks are being worn and hands are being washed as we are in full compliance with the local regulations.
CCP Iceland has been working from home since the beginning of April, and in the middle of all of this, we are also preparing for the move to our amazing new office building, Gróska, in June. Iceland has done a phenomenal job of testing for COVID-19, with 20% of the nation having been tested in recent weeks. In the past week, we have seen 0-3 new cases being reported each day. On May the 4th, some of the control measures that have been in place will start to be reduced.
CCP UK is hard at work from home and following UK guidelines. Great progress is being made on the “secret” project we are working on in London. We look forward to sharing more information with you on that later when the time is right.
EVE Online is going through a steep upward trend right now. Of course with the whole world at home, every form of entertainment is seeing a rise, but this is a trend we have been seeing since August last year and will continue to see as we invest more in the welcoming of new players whilst also providing ample challenges for veteran players. The technological investments will pay dividends now and well into the future, the war on botting will result in New Eden being the cruel but fair world it should be, and the economic changes will result in a healthy ecosystem for the foreseeable future.
Fly safe and continue to watch out for each other, after all, the best ship in EVE is friendship.