EVE Online may be best known to gamers who don't play it as the game that destroys thousands of dollars worth of in-game assets in massive spaceship battles every few months. Like other live-service games, players have the option to spend real money to buy assets in EVE Online or convert the real money into game currency called ISK. A 2020/2021 New Year's battle called World War Bee 2 destroyed over $340,000 of in-game assets in EVE Online, which set a Guinness World Record for the most costly video game battle.
But EVE Online is more than just an outlet for giant spaceship battles, and its 18-year existence proves that. Players can participate in trading, exploration, and piracy among other things and have thousands of star systems to visit. The game has also benefitted from regular updates during its long life span, including a recent "Reign" update improving fleet creation features. Of course, most gamers know that any one game's success won't last forever, but EVE Online CEO Hilmar Petursson believes the game is "never going to die," at least not while he's alive.
In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Petursson discusses the legacy of EVE Online and why he believes the game has lasted for as long as it has. The CEO of developer CCP credits much of the game's success to the "games as a service" business model, which he believes has created stability during EVE Online's life cycle and keeps new players coming. He also says that the team at CCP originally thought five years was an impressive life span for the game, but now staff recite "EVE forever" as a studio mantra. At this point, Petursson says EVE Online is a social construct.
Of course, CCP has had its ups and downs as a developer. As the company celebrates EVE Online's 18th anniversary, Petursson looks back on CCP's origins as a team of 35 people that knew very little about game design. He talks about the period of time following EVE Online's early success when the company tried to create new projects like an MMO set in the World of Darkness. None of these panned out the way CCP had hoped. CCP also went through a period of layoffs as these new projects struggled, and Petursson says the restructuring process was "extremely painful."
But today, EVE Online marches forward, and its player base of millions are still doing some crazy things in-game. As part of the game's Project Discovery initiative, players can complete analysis tasks in-game that directly help with COVID-19 research. It's estimated that EVE Online players have produced 330 years worth of COVID-19 research work so far, which is a huge boon for scientists. If EVE Online continues to be used as not only a game but as a research/experimentation tool, it may very well meet Petursson's expectations and last for years and years to come.
This is largely because open-world games such as GTA V, Watch Dogs, Skyrim, or Red Dead Redemption 2 entail high development costs and a market value that's difficult to ignore. However, that hasn't prevented some from taking a different approach to monetization and releasing their big, beautiful digital worlds for free, though perhaps at the cost of paid DLC or microtransactions. According to Metacritic, these are the best open worlds a gamer can dive into without spending a dime.
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