Editor’s Note: Eve News 24 would like to thank both Laura and Cagali for speaking with us and providing insight as to how Eve has gone for them during the changes of the last 12 months. EN24 remains neutral in the argument of which organizations are truly the ‘best place’ for a new player as the answer varies wildly on what said player wants to do in New Eden. We do recognize that both Eve University and Brave do a great job focusing on helping new players get started and thrive. If you want to learn more about these organizations then click on the links above.


This is the second part of a two part article. If you missed part one, it is here. This part of my article starts with my interview with two CEOs ( Laura of Eve-Uni and Cagali of Brave) who deal with and lead New Edens newest players on a daily basis. We discussed the recent releases from Ascension to skill injectors and their impact on ‘newbro’-centric organizations within Eve. I hope you enjoy:

Euronymus >How big was the influx of new members to E-Uni and BRAVE since Ascension was released?

Laura > Quite a marked one. For context, the week Ascension was released we saw double the number of applicants compared to the previous week. The week after (the first full week) it was almost triple.

Cagali >Well, Ascension was great for Brave. We had an influx of about 40 people in the week leading up to Ascension who told us that they’d joined BECAUSE eve was going to be free, and then about 250 members in the month following. We’re still maintaining about a 70% conversion rate of alphas to omegas (that’s always been the case), which is a pretty good thing for us.

Laura Karpinski

Laura Karpinski, CEO of Eve University

Cagali Cagali

Cagali Cagali, CEO of Brave Newbies Inc.

Authors Note: If you crave more visual information check out the o7 show – here. CCP describes how they see Ascension and discuss the overall numbers.

Euronymus >So, both of your corporations have experienced spikes in player applications over the course of EVE’s history. This wasn’t an unprecedented event for you, but was it the biggest when it comes to new player numbers?

Laura > Not necessarily. We tend to see influxes of new members when large events happen, such as after B-R5RB. It was a pretty large spike, though.

Cagali > Hahaha…the largest influx was “This is Eve” – which got us about 3000 members in a month, and the previous one was Asakai – which founded BNI – from zero to 2000 members in a month.

Euronymus >Any feedback from those new capsuleers?

Laura > Yes, in fact we have been sending out a poll to new members for a few weeks now asking for their feedback on the free to play EVE. Also the new “New Player Experience” which we were interested in.

Cagali >Sure. As I said, we’re actually running at about 70% conversion, so most people are trying it and then subscribing soon after. A fair number of Alphas that I’ve talked to recently wouldn’t have tried EVE if it WASN’T free to begin with, so I think it’s working.

Euronymus > And what have you learned so far from those polls? What was the biggest obstacle for them to start playing EVE Online? Subscription costs, learning curve?

Laura > Well we were mostly asking how they found the game, and particularly the tutorial. The results were quite heartening, I think. Most respondents said that EVE matched their prior expectations, and the majority expected to still be playing in 3 months. We didn’t ask about the obstacles for them playing EVE previously.

Whilst Ascension removed barriers that kept new players away for so long as stated above by both Laura and Cagali, there could be some problems on the road ahead. Alpha clones, those playing EVE for free, have a limited access to only T1 modules, ships they can fly (only up to cruiser-sized hulls), and are locked to hulls from the one of the four empire factions they choose during character creation. There are also some skill training limitations; not all skills can be trained by Alphas. That doesn’t matter much to ‘alpha newbros’ when they join since they have enough EVE unveiled to them to keep them busy for some time. However, it has been a few months since the “Ascension” release, so I asked Laura and Cagali how they see how those imposed limitations have worked over time. I got some interesting answers:

Laura > Ultimately some will find it too restrictive, but then they do have the option to upgrade to omega if they choose. It’s a careful balance I guess between giving alphas enough to maintain their interest in the game and not allowing them to unbalance the game. I think CCP have got that balance about right.

Cagali > It’s certainly restrictive. It’s difficult to have a fleet where a particular doctrine is used and then include all your alphas in a meaningful and useful way. For example, the BRAVE Talwar doctrine requires being able to fly 1700m/s and hit out to 70km, cap stable. Minmatar Alphas have to use a completely different fit AND be max skilled to get there. It’s a bit frustrating. I don’t know about the conversion rates in other alliances, but this level of restriction is probably good for CCP’s bank, since it seems to be encouraging Brave’s Alphas to subscribe in big numbers.

Eve is known for a brutal and legendary learning curve. (funny picture –here). CCP can’t actually help you with that (nor do we want them to). That is, and always has been the job of equally legendary community which EVE Online is also known for. During an interview, I was impressed with how well organized both corps were when it comes to teaching and accommodating newbros:

Euronymus > Ok, so how are you accommodating those players? This must require extra effort from the teaching department, management and leadership in general?

Laura > Yeah definitely. We’ve been doing a few things, actually. Firstly we had to account for the big increase in applicants, so we made some changes to our application process to help newbros get in a bit quicker. We also started working on some very basic level classes, for absolute beginners. Things like “Basic skills” and “How to make bookmarks”. Bite sized classes on really fundamental areas. Then just recently we launched the BLAPS program, which provides skill plans to get very new members into useful doctrine ships and reimburse them for the cost.

Cagali > Not really. Aside from some new skills plans and some new Race-specific doctrines, all our newbies are treated the same. Everyone has access to the same classes and fleets. I’ve recently generated some Race-Specific groups to make sure that Alphas who want to stay alpha are used to the fullest extent of their ability, and not relegated to E-War or Tackle. It seems to be bearing fruit!

Euronymus > So we can say that both of your alliances were ready for the incoming ‘flood’ of applications?

Laura > Yes we made sure we were prepared.

Cagali > Yeah. We had between two and three hundred race-based ships ready for handouts, and some pretty well thought out doctrines for people to move into, as well as our usual complement of skill books and other handouts ready to go. Our Dojo Directors really worked themselves stupid beforehand, just to make everything right and tight.

In part of our discussion I had wondered should these changes been made earlier. Could have CCP released this partial F2P model sooner?

Laura > It’s difficult to know if it would have made a difference if it had been released sooner. In the end, it will probably benefit the game though.

Cagali > Not really. The Eve I started playing in 2013 was totally unprepared for an influx of new players as it was. Brave Newbies kicked off a resurgence in the power of the newbro, and that spawned the highly successful copies in Pandemic Horde and Karmafleet. I think the “Free to Play” model has found fertile ground here since the Eve Community is much better setup to accommodate them. In fact, I would rather have seen the F2P model introduced slightly LATER – once CCP work out how to encourage the vast bulk of Highsec-Only new players to get out and join a Player Corp, rather than sitting in Highsec being bewildered by the complexities of the game as so many are.

To sum up, I asked them to give their honest opinions on Ascension.

Laura > It has lowered the subscription barrier and enabled people to try the game who wouldn’t have tried it before. I think that’s a good thing, though after a while I suspect they will likely find the alpha clone state too restrictive because they will hit the ‘endgame’ quite quickly.

Cagali > I think it’s great. I’d love to see a few tweaks here and there, and I think there are some areas that CCP could do better to encourage more of their Alphas to either play as an alpha or upgrade, but I think Ascension was a fantastic move for the game.

Bonus question was a bit off topic, but I thought it was interesting to know. Where do they see their corporations/alliances in 6 months or maybe a year:

Laura > It’s still early days, I’ve been CEO for less than a week so I’m still getting to know how things work. I’m fortunate in that EVE University is in a good place at the moment following Azmo’s time as CEO. I don’t know yet what the future holds.

Euronymus > Cagali, how about BRAVE? Where do you see BRAVE in 6 months or a year?

Cagali > Well, BRAVE has been through some interesting times in the last 2 years. I think we’ve come to the point where we can take a lot of things in stride, and keep rolling on. I’d like us to continue getting ambitious in the things we’re trying and accomplishing. In 6 months or a year I’d like to see us stronger than we’ve ever been, and trying a lot of new things! It’s what we’re all about, after all. New Players, and new things.

One thing is for sure “Ascension”, skill injectors, and nuPlex has irreversibly changed New Eden.

F2P model was in my opinion a great decision made by CCP because it helped EVE overcome problems with player numbers. It has attracted a large influx of people who saw a recurring subscription as a dealbreaker. Now whether the restrictions imposed by Ascension itself are too restrictive remains to be seen. It will take some time before Alphas get to the point where a cruiser is too small for them. However, T2 frigates, destroyers and cruisers along with faction ships seem much “closer” than a battlecruiser in terms of skill needed to operate them, and the restrictions will be considered as an obstacle a lot sooner than an inability to fly a battlecruiser. But as I said, time will tell. Large number of new players have arrived and they are just beginning to grasp the complexity of this unique MMO.

When it comes to Skill Injectors, I believe they played and still are playing a huge role in the EVE universe. They helped new players to get past arduous skill training at the beginning of the game, and to make the game itself more dynamic. Let us not forget players who made some money out of it as well. It also removed some longstanding assumptions we used to be able to make in the game. Player age no longer equates to skill points or an ability to determine what a particular player may be able to field in a fight. High SP toons are no-longer the mark of a veteran player, which I kinda regret. But then again, as I said earlier in the article, you cannot buy skills with skill points. New Eden is littered with the wrecks of mountains of expensive and skill intensive ships that were fielded by a new player who just injected his way into a larger “high-skill” hull. That along with the fact that skill injectors have to be created by extracting SP means they are not creating SP out of thin air, and still must be trained on some account somewhere over time. Maybe skill extractors could have been handled differently, but at this point we should no longer care. Also, now when you can buy smaller skill injectors, lots of newbros will have more options to boost their characters which will make New Eden more interesting. That “noob” might be a black-ops hotdropper!

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