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27Jun/11Off

Psychology of change and gossip

What happened to EVE Community in the past week can be quickly summed up with one word: Psychology. It was holidays in Poland last week, so fortunately/unfortunately I was away and only read some ragequit posts on twitter and forums. This break is what let me look at this whole thing from a cool perspective.

To understand what happened

We need to know a few things about how humans react to change:

Step 1. Disbelief/passive denial
Step 2. Opposition/active denial
Step 3. Testing
Step 4. Accepting change

We should also know, that in environment with not enough information, people are going to fill in the gaps themselves by making up gossip information, which contains lots of not-necessarily-true conclusions. This information will further support and reinforce their behavior. Eventually it will be repeated and distributed as certain/confirmed information. It is said, that gossip repeated enough times becomes truth.

How it all started

The negative response started, when CCP released a dev-blog about licensing third party applications, which caused lots of negative replies from players (including mine here). Another issue was raised about introducing paid non-vanity items, which according to a very good dev-blog by CCP Zulu was just a gossip. A gossip created from limited information, which allegedly leaked from CCP. I do agree with the EVE community, that introducing Pay2win will kill EVE Online as we know it. Microtransactions is a modern model for charging players and many companies successfully do it, but most of them only sell vanity items, that have no impact on the gameplay. World of Warcraft offers some paid non-combat pets and mounts (mounts scale with the character, so they give no advantage over the other mounts). Delay and lack of official comment from developers created a crisis stiuation, where almost entire EVE community jumped straight into Step 2: Active denial.

Active denial is a normal human response, which is very easy to provoke, even easier to reinforce and requires much caution when dealing with. In this case, the uproar in playerbase was further reinforced by a dev-blog, which says nothing at all, and then an e-mail supposedly sent by the CEO of CCP, Hilmar Veigar. In return, players created #evenge channel on twitter and Julianus Soter formed a first ever player union to oppose said changes. Fortunately, CCP has finally reacted to the issue, calling an extraordinary CSM meeting, and releasing a statement, that there were none, and there is no plans of introducing paid non-vanity items to EVE.

Results

Some people believed that last blog by CCP Zulu, and calmed down (@eclipticrift). Some people still actively resist (@HelicityBoson) and they have the right to do so.  Some people have unsubscribed, so this uproar will surely have some financial impact. Some experienced players have unsubscribed from the game, so it is possible that there might be also some impact on EVE economy itself (mainly on T2/T3 production). But one thing I've learned in EVE is that people can adapt rapidly. The remaining players will adapt and fill in the gaps left by those who unsubscribed. It will never be the same though, and a mark is going to stay. On twitter, on player blogs, and in our minds (like the infamous  't20 incident').

HOW TO: prevent shit from hitting the fan

Dear CCP: Please communicate. Cut speculation. Is DUST 514 PS3 only because Sony is buying CCP? No - XBOX 360 is a closed platform, much like the Apple App Store. Why there is no dev-blog about this? Why are players left to speculate? If You value the trust that Your community gives You, You have to act in a way that lets them trust You. What caused this current crisis was lack of official information and delay in response. Dear CCP, your community loves Your product. Care for both, and You will have a growing playerbase, like You had for the past 8 years.

PS. Good job to CCP Zulu for his dev blog - this situation was not just another ordinary brushfire.

PS 2. Who to blame for the last week trust crisis? I say human nature.

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