EVE Online is truly unique in more than one way, but one of the most notable differences of this game is the fact that content expansions are free! What makes EVE push out content for free when most other games charge? Developmag.com interviewed with Executive Producer Nathan Richardsson and asked just that.
Develop: The support, release schedule and promotion for EVE Online is clearly stepping up a notch or two, but why now?
Richardsson: Id actually put it in the reverse - weve been supporting and evolving EVE for six years by constantly increasing the development team that works on EVE and are working up to releasing two expansions every year. Stepping up our promotion makes that effort more visible, especially as were trying out new ways of reaching different audiences.
Develop: Why did you go with making the forthcoming expansion free, and what do customers get with the Apocrypha expansion?
Richardsson: Weve always believed that expansions should be included in your subscription as its part of what you pay for. There are also fundamental gameplay reasons against it. There are more support issues, you are essentially wasting development effort which only a subset of your subscriber base can enjoy. More importantly, you are segmenting the players and fragmenting a social network, which is the real bond you dont want to disrupt in a massively multiplayer world. Its why people stick around to be with the friends they play with.
There certainly are arguments that the distribution of expansions through a retail chain provides additional revenue. While some of that is true, it should compliment your business model, not be a short-term gain at the cost of long-term subscription revenue.
Develop: And what are the reasons for a boxed release only now, so long after EVE Onlines debut as a downloadable product?
Richardsson: Weve found a publishing partner who understands the long-term business model of online worlds and were working together with Atari to bring EVE to retail in a manner which complements our product strategy as well as theirs.
Youre getting EVE with all current and future expansion included, extra gametime tokens and exclusives which we refresh on a regular cycle, differentiating retail from digital distribution through included items and hopefully reaching a broader audience.
Develop: What exactly does the New Player Experience offer?
Richardsson: Were constantly improving our New Player Experience. With EVE being developed for a total of 10 years now, it has amazing breadth and depth which puts our learning curve into more of a cliff territory.
Massively multiplayer gaming is constantly reaching new audiences that havent tried it before, which results in a challenging start when coupled with complexity of EVE. We strive to expose the gameplay in a simpler manner, easing players into the different areas of gameplay rather than dumbing down EVE. Were working on everything from usability to re-implementing existing features more intuitively.
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