The Confused CCP: World of Darkness versus Dust 514

Scribed December 17, 2013 under The Cynic Dialogues
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You know, I’m a pretty huge advocate of EVE Online (even when I’m not subscribing to it). CCP has done what few other companies have managed to do in the last 20 years. They’ve been successful in the MMO space. Not just for 2 years, or 5 years… but for over 10 years now. That’s a huge accomplishment reserved for gaming giants Sony Online Entertainment and Blizzard. Now some may question this claim that CCP deserves its place along side the two MMO genre giants, but its important to note that this game has not only survived but continued to grow despite the aggressive and expanding genre choices made available to consumers.

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Most if not all of you have likely heard that another reduction on the team working on World of Darkness has just occurred (Merry XMAS!). The first thought that came to mind was “just cancel the title already!”. Its pretty clear that CCP has an obsession with Dust 514 and developing for a platform whose only audience is doomed to shrink over the next five years (Playstation 3 gamers). Having your “flagship” audience-expanding game developed onto a soon-to-be-replaced console was a bold decision for sure. Some hailed it as an evolution of the FPS and MMO genre. The realities were a lot different. Dust 514 has been plagued with negative publicity on launch. Afterall, what exact experience did CCP have developing a first person shooter in the first place? The ideas of integrating two different platforms, two very different gaming genres for a very different audience (EVE for older players, FPS for younger players) clearly posed certain challenges.

Yet despite the negative feedback, a brief “Mintchip” debacle (google it), and a failure to address the logic behind player interactions in EVE impacting Dust 514 players… CCP barreled on and vowed support for the title.  Clearly the problems on Dust 514 required a greater concentration of resources to solve the problems it faced. Yet the question remains is CCP sacrificing the future of World of Darkness for support of a dwindling audience and arguably doomed FPS experience in Dust 514 on a dying platform?

Its a tough question, but one that could likely be addressed by merely reflecting on the title chosen for the future vampiric-themed MMO. Place “World of” anything in front of a game and the thought makes many cringe. Its jokingly been applied to other Blizzard titles in the past to staple IPs like “Starcraft” or “Diablo”. Yet CCP chose “World of Darkness”, an obvious choice considering the Intellectual Property that it represented. Perhaps the delay has a deeper meaning; perhaps the sudden and clear departure of millions of players from World of Warcraft made CCP take note of a changing genre. Shifting resources away from World of Darkness provides excellent cover for delaying the title while the genre works itself out.

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Yet this notion seems too simple. Too quaint for a company that took big risks in an open world PVP title that has defined the very word “Sandbox”. So why would they be developing a themepark title now in the face of their success with EVE Online? No the answer must lie elsewhere and unfortunately it has to lie with Dust 514. The only reason to cut costs on a major MMO title in the middle of its development is because your company cannot afford it. If we assume that CCP is competent at game design and has a plan for World of Darkness similar to its success with EVE Online, then the only truth lies in a financial bottleneck of resources.  So I ask… why develop Dust 514 over World of Darkness?

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Part of me still remembers the Dust 514 reveal that showcased EVE ships entering orbit and assisting in a very different game. It was a revolutionary bold step forward, especially if you consider the cross-platform, cross-game technology required to make it happen. Yet as someone who play PC games exclusively the idea that my beloved EVE universe was expanding on a platform foreign to me was a bit of a slap in the face. Why did CCP create a game for a very different target audience? Why’d they create a game that doesn’t tap into its existing user base? These questions still plague the company. As usage-numbers are hard to come by and financial information equally obfuscated surrounding the free to play game, we are left wondering how much of a success this title really is.

In the end the questions and answers posed in this article are questions NOT answered in public yet by CCP. As a private company, these questions never need be answered. Yet for fans wondering about the future of CCPs next titles (Valkyrie included), the ability of CCP to manage multiple AAA games simultaneously has felt like a rocky Obamacare-website-like launch. Will CCP reveal more in 2014 about the direction for World of Darkness? The recent cutbacks point to a silent whimper of no. Will Dust 514 receive the AAA ongoing support that it can’t possibly deserve? Probably. Are EVE players funding the development of two equally doomed titles? Undoubtedly.

#eveonline #dust514 #worldofdarkness #ccp

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