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All Curves Aren’t.
A little over a month ago, I wrote a blog post called “Not all curves are pretty“. If you take away the player guides that I write for EVE and for Global Agenda (both of which are far and away the most-read things on this blog), it’s the most-viewed blog post I’ve ever written. It swept through the EVE blogs, news sites, various alliance forums, and even hit a site or two in the external media.
The post itself covered some mathematical analysis of the average number of players logged into EVE Online over a five-year period starting in March 2006. The source of the data was the API output of eve-offline.net, a website that’s intended to help players determine if EVE is itself off-line or if it’s just their own network connection. Still, the site does periodic downloads of the active logged-in player count from the EVE API. That data was available for download… right up until not long after my post hit. These days, that part of the site says the API data is “temporarily unavailable.”
That was a bit of a problem because at the end of “Curves”, I stated that the trend-line for the average users logged into EVE at that time was on a sharp downward trend and that it’d be interesting to look at it in another month to see if that trend continued or stabilized. Since then, I’ve gotten numerous requests for an update, an update that’s been difficult due to lack of data.
Well, in the last few days, I’ve received the data. This time, I’m going to keep my sources to myself, but I am convinced of their accuracy. Both sources provided me with data, and their data not only tracks with the previous data that I used to build the previous chart, but with each other. I have no reason to suspect at this time that they got their data from the same source, and the data looks consistent, so I’m going to go ahead and run with it.
I dropped the new data into the previous spreadsheet that I built for “Curves”. I then decided to build a new spreadsheet and normalize the data. This involves taking out the data drop-outs and discrepancies caused by EVE patch days. Instead, I’m going to stick to full 24-hour EVE days where full data is available (with a couple of exceptions here and there). That didn’t adjust past math too much, but did make some differences to the 2011 numbers. My updated spreadsheet with the raw data reflecting this is also available if you want to do your own analysis.
Here’s the updated “all-time” chart (click to embiggen all charts):
But that’s a bit tough to see, so I also generated a chart for 2011 only:
Don’t get too excited over the dramatic-looking curve. Note that the bottom line of the X-axis is 26,000 players logged in, not zero. Significant events that have taken place in 2011 are surprisingly easy to see on this graph, I was pleased to see. You can see the typical post-patch dip for both Incursion Phase 3 and the “Sanctum nerf patch” released in the first week of April. Alliance Tournament IX is easy to spot, as are the Jita riots. It was a bit tougher to understand what happened in EVE on March 2 that caused the big spike there, until I started doing incursions myself. After that, it was easy.
For those wondering what the percentage in EVE’s growth was for +60 days after Incarna’s release? Before I normalized it, it was up a bit. After normalization, the true number is -0.2%. The normalized +30 day number changes from the -1.8% I published on July 20 to +0.1%. In short, either there’s been no growth from Incarna, or any growth has been neutralized by unsubs caused by this summer’s dramas.
As a matter of fact, what struck me the most about the new, normalized chart, was the 30-day rolling average for the last 30 months.
- That number on February 22, 2009: 29,113.
- The same number on August 22, 2011, 30 months later: 29,841.
The short spike of new players after Incursion was released aside, that’s a difference of 2.4%. In 30 months.
That’s not a curve. That’s a flat-line. “Stagnant” doesn’t even begin to cover this. Bet you money, Hilmar has charts that looks very much like these two on his office wall somewhere, right now. It’s got to be one of the biggest things on his mind, if not the biggest.
Assuming the big spike in logged-in players after Incursion dropped was old EVE players coming back to check out all the changes and to spend their Learning SPs (something that’s implied by a lot of forum posts from the devs, CSM Summit minutes, and other sources), those players seem to have turned right around and left again. Incursion did not draw them back to stay. Incarna is doing nothing to bring them back a second time.
I believe even more strongly that the winter expansion is “sink or swim” time for CCP. It must succeed.
EDIT (31/Aug/2010): A couple of comments have already come in saying “2.4% isn’t flat!” I wouldn’t normally respond to that level of coherent thought, but this kind of comment really deserves special attention. So just for the people who don’t think 2.4% over 30 months isn’t flat, here’s a graph of 2.4% growth over 30 months:
Decide for yourself.
EDIT (31/Aug/2010): Another version, for those who want to accuse me of manipulating the first graph. Same data, going back to the beginning, 30-day rolling average, six month slices. You tell me where it’s flat and where it isn’t.
Again, decide for yourself. But if you want to argue with this one, you might want to join me in a place I call “reality.”
About the Author: Playing EVE Online for more than four years, play under the main Ripard Teg. Currently afflicted with the much maligned “Bitter-Vet” disease, Ripard Teg travels through the New Eden landscape in search of a cure… and hopefuly a good adventure to share with his readers.
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