Thursday, October 25, 2012

By the numbers, fanboy style

     Fanboys, gotta love 'em . . . mostly.  They're certainly good for PR and CCP isn't going to be breaking any radio silence to correct the more rabid and optimistic mathematicians and accountants in the player base.

     The fanboys I'm referring to are the ones that mention that Eve has numbers ranging anywhere from 200,000 players up to 400,000 players.  Apparently differentiating between "accounts" and actual "people" is a rather pointless endeavour.  Another optimistic example is the people who talk about how ~60,000 players voted in the election!!  Again though, people don't seem to be overly concerned about the difference between an "account" and an actual skin bag, filled with mostly water.  AKA, a "person".

     My thinking about the numbers worked sort of backwards, in time, that is.  In doing my usual listening-to-podcasts thing while doing the despicable mining-thing, I listened to the latest Crossing Zebras podcast and they had their new Gentleman's Agreement alliance CEO on with them.  He was talking about his alliance size and what his recruiting plan was.  He mentioned that he has over 1500 CHARACTERS in his alliance, but he figures he actually only has about 300 players.  300 people.  That's pretty amazing, but not surprising, to me, anyway.  As one of those multi-account dudes myself, I slowly saw/realized that multiple accounts allow you to more easily play Eve.  More accounts allow one to accomplish more, not only with parallel training, but making exponentially more isk.  At some point the income vs account curve might flatten out, but at what point that is, I don't know.  I do know that more accounts means you HAVE to play more, or enough to fund all those accounts, especially with regards to using PLEX.

     So anyways, working backwards, from the recent podcast; the CSM 7 election.  So there were 59,109 votes cast by "eligible voters" says CCP.  That right there, is some pure bullshit spinnery.  "Eligible voters" my ass.  In plain English, 59,109 ACCOUNTS voted.  Some important stats, thinks I, are the fact that the average account age is 2.89 years.  Anyway, time to strap on my tinfoil hat here. . .

     Older accounts, older (likely) players, and also likely aware of the meta game's influence as well as a number of the issues being addressed by the candidates, in all sec areas of the game.  Last time CCP did a quarterly report of what the account numbers were for each zone, null netted something like 12% of the active accounts.  How accurate that number is now is anyone's guess, but at 2011 published numbers by CCP, they claimed 325,000 accounts, and that's what MMO data still says too.  That might have been optimistic on CCP's part and was definitely before all the banned bot and rmt accounts, but they say the voter turnout was 16.63%, so that's still around the 355K accounts level.  We'll run with that for now.  So possibly around 45,000 accounts are being operated in null out of the total subscriber-ship.  That's a big number if you consider them all to be people, but at GAA's ratio, that's only about 10,000 (or fewer) real players in null.  How many null PLAYERS actually voted?  With a 60k total vote, a large list of candidates and so many null sec players getting so many of those 60k votes, what is the REAL player vote?  30,000 players?  20K?  Less?  I wouldn't be surprised if the real number of players voting was in the 15 to 20k range, but that's just me.

     Now at an advertised active account level of around 350,000, again, how many real people does that actually represent?  Not everyone has 55 accounts like a certain indy guy I know, or the ratio is as lopsided as the GAA's, but I bet there are a shit load of players with at least 2 accounts, and likely a very large number with 3 to 5.  Not being a statistician, I wonder if there are enough players with multiple accounts to bring the accounts to players ratio up  to 2:1?  Maybe even between 2 and 3:1?  So really, maybe around 150,000 actual players?  Less?  I seriously doubt there are 200,000 players (excluding the Chinese servers who apparently have about 100k accounts.)  CCP knows exactly what the ratio is, but you can bet their ass, your ass, or your cat's ass they won't tell.  Encouraging their customers both commercially and technically (via the software) to operate more than one account is a smart business move.  More bucks per player.  It's also a bad move, especially when the subscription numbers are mostly stagnant or when they pull a bonehead update and piss players off.  In good times, each player is worth multiples, but in bad times, every player that leaves takes multiple accounts' revenue with them too.

     No doubt CCP realizes that there are some very clever numbers dudes in the player base, and that's why they stopped publishing the quarterly reports.  Having the extra power in the customer's hands is bad enough (especially when they multi-boxing), but giving them the numbers so they might be able to actually calculate their advantage, well, that just moves CCP from the position of driving the cart, to pulling the cart.

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