At EVE Fanfest 2012 last week, we sat down with CCP's recently appointed Chief Marketing Officer, David Reid, to talk about cloud gaming and the future of EVE Online.
I have a strong reason to suspect that David Reid, CCP's recently appointed Chief Marketing Officer, is the human incarnation of the energizer bunny. A week and a half ago - at EVE Fanfest - I had the opportunity to speak with David on CCP's big plans for 2012 and, even after eight straight hours of interacting with fans and press, he was still the most enthusiastic and energetic man at the venue. This also means that within a 15 minute interview, we managed to have an in-depth discussion on blending the DUST 514 and EVE Online communities, CCP's vision for cloud gaming, and a little bit of World of Darkness thrown in at the end. It's all fascinating, so let's get right into it!
ZAM: I'm here with David Reid, Chief Marketing Officer for CCP Games!
David Reid: Hello there!
ZAM: I guess we'll be mostly talking about DUST 514 today! One of the things that struck me about the way DUST 514 and EVE Online are being presented today is that it feels like you're trying to create a brand - EVE - as opposed to a singular game.
David: You got it! I don't even know if we could think of DUST 514 as a second game alongside EVE Online. At some level, it might be better to think of it all as... EVE being our first universe and World of Darkness will be our second. The idea is that people playing DUST on the PS3 are going to have a different experience but they too are in that single-shard universe of EVE Online.
ZAM: A lot of people consider the FPS console-based demographic and the EVE Online demographic to be polar opposites. You obviously considered these factors when creating this game. Did that ever go into influencing your design decisions?
David: Oh absolutely. Think about it this way: no game other than EVE has continued to grow every single year - since the tumble that World of Warcraft took in 2011 - and the reason why is two things. One is our continuous development of service and our consistency in adding new things and the second thing is that magic of being on a single shard. You and I may bump into each other at a bar, and we may discover that we both play RIFT or World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic or what have you, and we may start talking about that, but we'd probably soon realize that we're not on the same servers, or the same factions, or even within the same level bands. We'll never see each other in the game.
ZAM: And you won't share the same experiences.
David: Exactly. In EVE, however, we share the same shard and the same world. So when you think about continuing to grow the EVE universe and bringing that awesome single-shard experience to players - all the drama, the politics, the economy, the sandbox - you're faced with two choices. One choice is to continually add more into the EVE Online client; to cram more into it while making it bigger and broader. Another choice is to say that we're going to build a client on a different platform for a different style of game. We're going to make the right client for the right platform that a different user can get involved with, and we're going to let them share in that shard. Together.
We heard from the community last year, "Don't screw up EVE Online. We like what we have here. Add things, that's fine, but don't screw up the core gameplay." With DUST 514, what we're saying is that we want to bring more people into this universe; we want to do it in a way that is accessible and doesn't have the legendary learning cliff that EVE Online does. What's more accessible to a gamer than a first-person shooter? And from there, players will start learning about persistence and how things change in the EVE Universe; learning about the single shard and taking contracts from a guy in EVE Online. But wait a minute! That's a real person! Soon you'll be chatting with him on your PS3 while he's on his PC and you'll be doing deals, planning for galaxy domination, and then you'll meet up in real life, and then you'll you go to Fanfest, and then you'll get a tattoo.
ZAM: So rather than shifting the focus of your core game experience, which what a lot of MMOs tend to do when they want to pull in a new demographic...
David: We know one science-fiction game which did that in a spectacular way with Star Wars: Galaxies. And I think we flirted with our own little New Game Enhancement (NGE) experience to some extent with Incarna. But we heard, loud and clear, from a very impassioned group of people, "Don't screw up EVE." EVE is magic. There is something about it that has just continued to defy gravity all these years, and it is up to us to not mess that up. If we can find ways to bring people in who are used to different play patterns, different platforms, different business models, and we let them be a part of the magic of the single shard, we think that's the road going forward for the company and maybe the industry in general.