June has been a cruel month to CCP (the creators of EVE Online). In the sprint to push out Incarna - the controversial ‘Walking In Stations’ expansion - on June 21st, no less than four significant scandals have taken place over the course of a week and a half, sending the playerbase into a fever pitch of indignation. That’s a shame, because in May everything seemed so peachy. The CSM (the Council of Stellar Management, the CCP-sanctioned elected player representative body, of which The Mittani is chair) Summit in Reykjavik was a great success; CCP lifted up their skirts, and, for the most part, the CSM liked what they saw.
The disconnect between the ‘Happy May CSM’ and the ‘Enraged June Playerbase’ can be traced to a single cause: CCP’s terrible record with player communication. Perhaps it’s the Icelandic sensibilities; Icelanders are famously blunt, which is endearing when you’re on a drinking binge with them, but this translates poorly over the internet. Would you include the word “Monetization” in the title of a dev blog addressed to a famously anti-Microtransactions playerbase? Would you label a company newsletter “Greed Is Good” and plaster Gordon Gekko on the cover? How about describing a $99 licensing fee as a ‘token payment’? In each of these scandals, minimally competent messaging could have defused or prevented the controversies entirely. Let’s dive into the muck and find out what went wrong.