World of Darkness and DUST 514 Updates - A Q&A with CCP's Newest Exec

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CCP's new CMO David Reid

As CCP’s incoming Chief of Marketing Operations, David Reid brings a diverse amount of experience to CCP’s helm, including tours in the Middle East and Korea as a US Army Officer, a Wharton MBA, and a resume including marketing experience at such heavyweights as Microsoft (where he headed up launch marketing for the Xbox 360), NCsoft, Trion, and GameTap.

With Fanfest, CCP’s signature fan event, about a month and a half away, we talked with David Reid and CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson about their 2011 struggles and 2012 plans, including updates for World of Darkness and DUST 514 fans.

A lot of World of Darkness fans were put on edge by the amount of CCP resources that seem to be flowing into DUST 514 and EVE Online. Can you say anything to calm their fears?

David Reid: There is no shortage of commitment here to making World of Darkness awesome. I dug deep into that before I came on board and remain absolutely convinced that this is going to be a huge, huge thing based on the resources we’re putting behind it.

Hilmar Pétursson: Specifically, we have a kickass team of sixty rockstars from across the game industry and CCP, and they’re making fantastic progress.

"We donÂ’t all know how to pilot a spaceship, but we all know how to kill a vampire. And thatÂ’s the case even if we havenÂ’t played Vampire: The Masquerade. "

David Reid: I don’t think anyone has to worry about our commitment to making World of Darkness a transformative experience.  Despite what you hear from us about DUST and EVE, there are more people working on World of Darkness here at CCP than there are working on triple A titles at other companies I’ve worked at for the stage of development it’s at. 

Everyone here realizes what a tremendous opportunity we have.  To do what’s been done here with EVE – the economy, the persistence, the Machiavellian politics that players do to construct their own content – imagine what that can be like in a modern era intellectual property, in something everyone understands. We don’t all know how to pilot a spaceship, but we all know how to kill a vampire. And that’s the case even if we haven’t played Vampire: The Masquerade.

CCP is clearly excited about launching DUST 514 in 2012. Help us understand why those of us in the PC gaming market (and specifically the MMO crowd) should be excited about a PlayStation 3-exclusive online shooter.

CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson

Hilmar Pétursson:  The thing that many people have raised with us is that they love everything about EVE Online, apart from playing it. It’s such an interesting world, there are so many exciting things going on, but it takes a lot of commitment to get into.

David Reid:  The opportunity with DUST is tremendous  - it’s an opportunity to bring this universe that plenty of people in the MMO side of the market have enjoyed – the persistent universe, the world’s most vibrant and “real” virtual economy. But not everybody is a fan of flying in space.

We want to bring this experience to people who may not know EVE Online or CCP to the 60 million or so people connected on the PlayStation Network, the bulk of whom know what it’s like to play a shooter and can imagine the opportunity presented by interacting inside of this mature EVE universe.

"EVE could be the biggest game in the world at the end of 2012."

Beyond that, we also have the phenomenon that EVE Online has been all of these years. Eight years running, EVE Online is the only game in the West that has shown consecutive growth year after year, in light of the tumble World of Warcraft saw last year. 

With DUST 514 shipping this year, with bringing in the tens of millions of people that play shooters on PSN into the New Eden universe, EVE could be the biggest game in the world at the end of 2012. To end the year on that upswing, it just blows my mind the opportunities we have here to keep building on this awesome universe.

Is your vision for World of Darkness to make its persistent universe a platform for game development, as you’re doing with EVE Online with the advent of DUST 514?

Hilmar Pétursson: I would more describe our vision for World of Darkness as taking all of our experience as CCP, all the history and refinement of the Vampire: The Masquerade IP in the last two decades, and combine these two things into something the world has never seen before.

David Reid: Part of the opportunity and challenge for me in my discipline is to make sure that people understand that it’s not so much that CCP is shipping a new game this year, it’s more that CCP is dramatically expanding the EVE universe this year.  We think of World of Darkness as that second universe.

There is an amazing base of battle-tested technology here – a single shard that runs Tranquility, that has held Guinness World Records for peak concurrency – taking the tech, the human intelligence, methodology, and experience that we’ve got, and building that second universe with a very different flavor of moment-to-moment gameplay.

World of Darkness is less of a new platform and more of a new universe, with all kinds of ways to tunnel into it as whatever sort of gamer you happen to be, in a way that is much more accessible than the EVE universe tends to be for someone whose not a science fiction person. Everyone’s a modern era person. When they see what we’re able to do with that new universe and that intellectual propertyÂ… well, it’s a really big opportunity.

"To see CCP react, to see Hilmar and others own up to a sense that the community has something to say, and that against a backdrop of Arab uprisings in the Middle East, we’ve got Occupy Wall Street, and we’ve got EVE Online. Where else does this happen in the online world?"

2011 presented a lot of challenges for CCP, especially with the fallout surrounding the "Greed is Good” newsletter leak, which left many in the EVE playerbase feeling a bit objectified as purely a source of revenue.  David, as the incoming chief of marketing, what’s your perspective on that episode?

David Reid:  It was an interesting thing to be watching from the sidelines, as it were, while at Trion. To see CCP react, to see Hilmar and others own up to a sense that the community has something to say, and that against a backdrop of Arab uprisings in the Middle East, we’ve got Occupy Wall Street, and we’ve got EVE Online. Where else does this happen in the online world?

These people are citizens of New Eden, they’re a big part of what has made it great, and they have entrusted or maybe elected CCP to be their government.

When Hilmar’s “Love Letter” came out, you saw people rally around CCP – there was a sense that they knew CCP could pull through it. It was a tough year in many regards, and yet EVE Online continues to defy the gravity that I’ve seen in every other MMO I’ve worked on. Eight years in a row of growingÂ… if you can grow after a year like that, what’s going to hold you back?

As the new CMO, how do you match the marketing traction that some of the biggest headlines EVE has created just by being EVE – the great alliance wars, the ISK fraud scandals, the internal cheating allegations?

David Reid: First and foremost, a big part of what’s exciting about EVE to everyone in our industry is that it’s not something where the developers sit down and say, “let me construct an eventÂ… let me write a narrative.” The players drive the content of the universe in many ways. Just last weekend we had a fleet fight of 2,000 players, all playing at the same time in one big brawl. That is one of the hallmarks of EVE. It’s not something anyone ‘officially’ set up.

To be able to pick up a controller in the EVE universe, to contribute to the economy, to contribute to the politics, alliances, corporations and such – I don’t think I have to do a whole lot to sell those moments from a marketing perspective. What I have to do is find a way to explain that to people, to demystify the magic of what this is and tell how different this is.

In closing, David wished to add that Fanfest in March “will be a very big Fanfest for usÂ… If there ever was a year to make the trip, this is the year to do it,” adding that DUST 514 will be playable at the event. Hilmar added that the new Fanfest venue is a “concert hall that looks like a space stationÂ… as a result of the change, we’ll be able to offer much more to Fanfest attendees.” Find details on the official CCP Fanfest 2012 page.

Thanks to CCP's David and Hilmar for their time, and we'll look forward to more info coming out of Fanfest in March.

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