MMOs, the Final Frontier: How Will Atari Help EVE Online?

By Reuben Waters -
Greetings fellow humanoids! This special edition of MMOs, the Final Frontier is being beamed to you directly from New Eden, thanks in part to the latest and greatest implant technology rolling off the Minmatar Science and Industry Division prototype assembly line. You read that right folks – these words are being transmitted over a secure channel in real time, by nothing more than a sheer act of willpower and the cybernetic parts of my brain! How cool is that?

The following database entries chronicle some of the events that played out over the past week as I warped from one star system to the next conducting research. Using an advanced scientific method that involved warping up to strip-miners from enemy factions and hoping I wouldn’t get podded, I set out to discover the answer to a burning question – namely, what will the publishing deal with Atari mean for EVE Online?

EVE will gain a strong retail presence thanks to Atari.

Day 1: Presence

Anyone who’s experienced the gameplay of EVE Online will tell you that the title is unlike anything else on the MMOG market. The second thing they’ll point out is EVE’s notoriously steep learning cliff. While I’ve played the game off and on for a few years now, it’s always nice take a refresher course on the game mechanics rather than hopping directly into a larger ship after some time away. Besides, it’s been quite a while since my last run through the tutorial, so I was curious to see how it may have changed, and it helps me appreciate exactly what a complete revamp to that portion of the game will mean moving forward.

Zipping to and from the local Naval Academy numerous times, it got me thinking about some of the differences between high and low security space. While low sec is EVE’s version of the Wild West, the starting areas have a distinctly different vibe to them thanks to the presence of CONCORD. While Atari may not share much in common with the galactic police force, one of the ways the publisher will help EVE this March does – specifically by providing EVE with a strong retail presence.

Thanks to continual online advertising and the direct download nature of the game client, it could easily be said that EVE has quite comfortably existed primarily in the Wild West otherwise known as the internet. Unlike many of its peers though, there hasn’t really been any kind of presence for EVE in the high sec world of retail. Branching out into the retail market is a necessary step forward for EVE, as this year will see a flood of new sci-fi games hitting store shelves. By having a shiny new retail box available before the flood gates open, EVE could very well see a major increase to New Eden’s population in the coming months.

Like a pilot and their ship, EVE and Atari will have a symbiotic relationship.

Day 2: Symbiosis

In EVE, the relationship between pilot and vessel is entirely symbiotic, much like the cybernetic implants currently allowing me to beam words directly from my brain and onto virtual paper without the need for silly things like keyed input devices. This also cuts to the heart of what could ultimately prove to be an excellent relationship between CCP and Atari.

Though the entire catalog of Atari games may not see widespread distribution, certain titles have been a staple on store shelves of even the biggest retailers over the past few years. Walk into any Target and you’re sure to find a copy of the newest Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion or The Witcher: Enhanced Edition. In a rapidly shrinking retail environment for PC games, that’s no small feat considering most games only see store shelves for a month or two before being swept aside to make room for the newest Sims expansion. While this could be directly attributed to the quality of the games involved, it also helps that the Atari brand has been a part of pop culture in the US for decades. In that sense, EVE’s retail release is certainly in the right hands with Atari.

Atari also stands to gain something important from the deal as well, beyond basic monetary involvement. Looking towards the future, Atari clearly has plans to establish itself within the realm of MMOG publishing. The most recent example of this would be the surprise announcement that Infogrames (Atari’s parent company) had purchased Cryptic Studios. As Atari intends to become a major player in the industry of online gaming, I can’t think of a better product to bring to market than EVE to help facilitate the MMO distribution process.

Day 3: The Scientific Approach (or, Podded… again.)

Greetings citizens! We regret to inform you that the regularly scheduled transmission has been cancelled due to pilot overconfidence. Be sure to tune in next time for another exciting episode of, “Thar Be Pirates in EVE!

Players are the beating pulse of EVE.

Day 4: The Scientific Approach, Take Two

Rather than babble on about the importance of paying attention to the Overview in EVE when warping up to enemy strip-mining operations to conduct highly scientific research, instead I’d like to share with you some of the data I’ve managed to salvage from the wreckage of my last few ships.

EVE, like all MMOGs, is ultimately about the people who play it. Due to the sandbox nature and a highly involved political and social hierarchy, the beating pulse of EVE will be found out here in the vastness of space among the hundreds of thousands of pilots. With this in mind, I set out to get a feel for what current players of the game thought about the upcoming retail release. A word of caution to all you newcomers to New Eden though – while you’ll find some really great long-time players in random asteroid belts out here in low sec space, it’s best to announce your intentions before warping up to them in a relatively defenseless frigate!

Since I wanted to get a good cross-section of opinions, I did what any highly skilled researcher would do in my situation and began picking random star systems on the 3D map, and then warping out to equally random asteroid belts. While a few of the pilots I spoke to didn’t even realize that a retail box was due to hit shelves to coincide with the release of Apocrypha, the vast majority of them were not only aware of it, but seemingly have plans of purchasing a copy even though they’re long-time players.

For some, it’s a gesture of support for their favorite game developer, a way of saying thanks for all the hard work that’s gone into EVE over the past few years. Other pilots were looking forward to the chance to get some of their friends into the game, the ones who’ve been on the fence about downloading the client but who would perhaps be more willing if they had a physical copy in their hands.

The main thing I learned here is that many current players look at the retail release as a good thing, as it means an expanding player base is just over the horizon. New blood in a game like EVE can indeed be a good thing – not only does it expand the social networks of current players, but it can also help to insure a long, healthy future for the game. Mind you, some pilots I spoke to are simply looking forward to having new players to pod, but that’s beside the point.

EVE's retail release coincides with the launch of the Apocrypha expansion this March.

Captain’s Log: Stardate 1260.9

Over the years, I’ve built up quite a collection of MMOG boxes. Call it what you will, but owning physical copies of the games I’m most passionate about provides a unique timeline that simply doesn’t exist in the realm of direct downloads. Much like looking back at old family photo albums, each box brings to mind some of my fondest memories of time spent with friends online.

Not only am I excited for a chance to add an EVE box to the ranks of the MMOG soldiers currently lining the bookshelves in my office, but I’m also looking forward to seeing copies out in the wild. It can be easy to forget that there’s thousands (millions?) of gamers out there that may have never even heard of EVE before. For the curious among them, the upcoming retail release could very well be the best gaming purchase they make this year. This isn’t a fresh MMOG launch complete with bugs and server crashes, but rather a solid, polished and awesome galaxy waiting to be explored.

As always, I’d love to hear your opinions, so be sure to let me know what you think about the retail release of EVE in our forums, or you can even feel free to email me directly. Until next time, dear readers, this is Captain Sardu singing off!

Last Updated:

Around the Web