Tuesday, 31 October 2017

CCP Layoffs. Reality hits Virtual Reality.

Grim news from CCP indeed. Its venture into VR has come to an end with the announcement of the closure of Atlanta (Sparc), the 'sale' of Newcastle (Eve Valkyrie) and the refocus of Shanghai (Gunjack). It is always easy to point fingers after the event. But this venture was a decent attempt to address a problem. Eve Valkyrie was a standout title when the Oculus was released. But it was not to be and the point problem remains. CCP has now returned to being a one trick pony with Eve Online being their primary source of income.

With a nearly a third of the workforce impacted our thoughts must go out to those facing uncertain times. Let's hope they find new opportunities as soon as possible. The scope of the layoffs suggest the changes go beyond closing down the VR portfolio. There is a broader cost cutting element to this exercise.

Perhaps this is to be expected. The VR investors will still want a return and to labour the point, the problem still remains. CCP needs to diversify away from Eve Online. The Eve player base isn't growing despite going F2P and its getting older. The current situation isn't sustainable in the long term.

The positive spin pitched by CCP is this will benefit Eve Online with more resources and focus being available. I hope this is true but it is not unreasonable to doubt this will happen. CCP's ability to disprove the "Mythical Man Month" - where adding manpower to a late software project makes it later, is not something many of us would recognise. 

Additionally, the ongoing projects - (Nova and Mobile Eve plus whatever they are now cooking up in Shanghai) have an added importance now and will need resourcing. The need for the revenues that Eve produces to underwrite those developments is now more acute. Consequently, taking risks with Eve would be ill advised. At best I think Eve players can expect more of the same. Features that retain the existing player base will continue to be maintained, rebalanced or refreshed. Features that don't will get retired (such as Captains Quarters). At worst, deeper monetisation will be further explored. 

So one way or another the organisational changes will have a profound effect on Eve Online. Seeing how quickly these events have unfolded so soon after the rosy view that was painted at EveVegas there is more a sense of crisis management rather than planned restructure about this right now. What CCP's senior management need to demonstrate somehow is they have a strategy for the future of the game beyond the immediate need to cut costs and the future need to maximise revenue. More details are needed and presumably we'll find out more as time progresses. Hopefully those details will include a strategy for Eve beyond simply milking it.

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