Abyssal Proving Grounds are a Failure

Hello friends.

First, let’s start with what this post is not about. This is not a thread to discuss how wrong I am because you loved the content afforded to you by the revamped Abysssal PvP released this summer. I have no doubt that you enjoyed every second and are very happy that this content has been brought to New Eden. This is equally not a thread to tell us how much you think Abyssal PvP sucked or was unbalanced or could be improved. We all know that there are issues with what CCP was able to implement and that there are a dozen things that could be fixed with some effort and resources.

No, what this post is about is the acceptance and impact of instanced arena PvP on the broader game. I am less interested for today about where the content itself succeeded and where it failed, and rather more interested in the effect of adding queued PvP arena matches to Eve Online. So please, take you praise and criticisms of the content somewhere else, and let’s just focus on how this affected our shared universe of New Eden, shall we?

Alright, before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start with some caveats. First, it is still early days. We only have data from the first six PvP events of a quarter where there are nine separate arena events planned (and it seems more after this according to hoboleaks). There is still a lot of data yet to be collected and changes that could be made, but I think we have already seen enough with these first events to do a preliminary analysis and set some exceptions here. Second, I am only working here with the publicly available metrics, so you can check my work but it is possible CCP can see things we cannot from the outside.

Ok, with that all said let’s get to the nub of the whole thing: did the addition of instance PvP increase activity in the sandbox? A fair question, as common sense, and multiple repeated experiments in other MMOs would predict that adding queued, instanced PvP can be very detrimental to open-world PvP activity as players opt for the easier, more consist match making offered by queuing up to be magically teleported to an arena. Any gains offered by the increased activity a matched arena provides, are offset by the decrease in open-world activity as players are taken out of the shared universe and spend their time in the PvP instance, or safely queuing for it.

During the admittedly well co-ordinated full-court press to bring attention to, and sell this new “feature” to the community, a certain CCP dev claimed that in contrast to the conventional wisdom CCP has found that when new features are added to Eve Online, they don’t reduce activity in other areas of the game, but just drive more player activity. While I find this claim dubious, I guess it could be true depending how you measure activity or what they were referring to. However in the case, we don’t have to guess. Basic activity metrics like killmails and PvP kills are provided to the public by CCP and we can test these claims directly.

So, did activity increase? The answer is no, there is no obvious increase in player activity:

Im not even showing you the overall activity (using unique characters on a killmail as a metric) as that is dominated by nullsec and highsec kills which proceed as normally, trending slightly down all summer. What is shown above is what I guessed the best chance to see something, and that is by comparing lowsec PvP participation to the arenas, and what you see is that while the first two events did have noticeable increase in player PvP activity, it was largely at the expense of lowsec. The disruption of the weekend activity cycle is clearly evident (each highlight sections was the time period when an arena was active).

However, so while there was some cannibalization of activity elsewhere in the game early on, this basically disappeared with the third and subsequent arena events, largely because players basically gave up on the arenas. This was actually what I found most surprising from this analysis - not that some devs were putting out some rosy spin to try to drive uptake of a new feature they worked hard on - but how quickly and utterly interest in instanced PvP arenas collapsed:

As you can see, the last 4 events have only had a mean daily participation of 100-300 characters. Given the rumours and reports of match fixing and queue stuffing, this is likely an upper estimate, so there really are only a few hundred people who cared to engage with this content once the initial hype had worn off.

Clearly a permanent arena system is out of the cards with these numbers. Sure, you can say that CCP missed the mark on the implementation, and if this change was made or that change, players would flock to it, but that is just standard wishful thinking of players who think everyone else is like them Eve players engage in all the time. There is nowhere near the interest to justify significant investment, or to support matchmaking or other systems players expect or claim would fix things. Participation in even the most hyped, most active event itself collapsed after 4-5 days:

I don’t know where you go from here. A few hundred people is a playstyle so niche, it really doesn’t merit any real development effort, and I don’t see a viable future for these “events” beyond either a rotating, largely ignored feature not much more popular than the last incarnation of abyssal PvP, or just being switched off entirely. I think the best case is that CCP takes the tech and what they have learned and tries again with a more structured PvP system, tied better into either the real universe (part of a revamped Faction War system?) or maybe a new Alliance Tournament.

Well, kudos to CCP for experimenting, but it does seem the case that not only many of the concerns people had regarding the suitability of Eve’s PvP systems for arena play were valid, there also is just a general lack of people wanting to participate in arranged PvP apart from the greater Eve universe. But even if CCP were to succeed, none of these data support the dev claim that this would be new activity, and not come at the expense of activity in the open-world. I’ll keep an eye on the remainder of the planned arena events to see if CCP can find a tweak or change that drives broader interest, but I’ve seen enough to declare the Abyssal Proving Grounds arena filament experiment a failure.

Pedro out.

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activity in the open world is garbage, yeah, it’s so much fun roaming five regions of bots and seeing gilas upon gilas dock up, only to die from a gatecamp. everything you said would have a point if open world pvp wasn’t just nano kitey crap, gatecamp, and blobs. but it is.

the only people I see making arguments like “but you’re taking away people from space” are the ones who don’t actually go out and roam on their own, or are just f1 blobbers who think content is just the occasional kill from a gatecamp.

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First, may I just say an excellent and, to my mind, very well reasoned post.

I have not dipped even my smallest toe into the Arenas, and never will. Two reasons. Firstly, I am not at all interested in kinetic PvP (as opposed to less violent forms of PvP competition which I do enjoy). So, of course I am not going to touch this. But secondly, the whole concept just seems to be 180 degrees out of kilter with the rest of Eve. This is a space game. It is about flying between systems and stations, and doing stuff. I can accept “acceleration gates” as a necessary mechanic to reach pockets of space for gameplay reasons. But the whole concept of magic filaments and so on, to transport me to somewhere, whether Abyss or Arena, is just so daft that it wrecks the degree to which one can wave it away. If I want to play magical fantasy, I will play magical fantasy. If I want to play sci fi, please let me play sci fi. Even if the instancing was of mining spots (bit like they tried with Resource Wars), I would not be tempted because it causes me cognitive dissonance.

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300 people isn’t that bad considering login numbers (- alts and people socializing while spinning in stations 24/7) and the number of activities you can do in game.

Personally I don’t like instanced pvp. Filaments are good thou: regular pvp but without the boring travel part or scanning for wormholes.

That isn’t 300 people at once. That is 300 people across a whole day (And even if we take the average alt ratio it’s actually only 200 people and we ignore the match fixing games there.)
Given we can have 30,000 simultaneous characters logged in the unique logins per day is almost certainly over 100,000. So we are talking something like 0.3% to 0.1% engagement.

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In a game where the average player is now in their 30’s with career and family responsibilities, the concept of instanced, short session gameplay has merit. Most can find 15 minutes but few can find hours of spare time to look for content.

The PVE Abyss works quite well. I’m surprised CCP hasn’t yet tried a 1v1 PVP competition. That might work if the queues are short.

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I mean does it?

When only a few hundred people out of a say 100k-sized player-base use your feature, is it working well?

There is a 1v1 Frigate filament on Hoboleaks. I want CCP to finish this experiment, but really, the appetite for instant, balanced PvP appears rather limited despite what you and others claim. That, or this arena doesn’t scratch the itch for most of them for whatever reason. Either way, this incarnation isn’t cutting it.

You cannot be a spectator and there aren’t any official commentators - so it has almost nothing in common with the Alliance Tournament. Lots of people watch the Olympics, but not many people are interested in ever participating in those sports.

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PVE Abyssal content has more than a few hundred users. The PVP numbers are low. I’ve heard there are long waits in the queue to get a match which will be a strong disincentive - the only justification for instanced content in a sandbox game is short session gameplay. 1v1 may work. I doubt other formats will work much better than those already tried.

We are talking about the Proving Grounds here, so the PvP ones. Not the PvE rooms.

This is kinda the point of this whole thread. If there is a huge demand for instant, more balanced PvP by people without much time like you claim, why are there such long wait times? The long queue times are because not enough people want to do them.

This version of arenas maybe a successful experiment because CCP has learned something, but as a game feature they are a failure.

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if you want to play a space game try Kerbal Space Program, it has Newtonian physics even if the model is two-body based and the planets are on rails. New Eden is in a region of “space” where the planets don’t move, there’s no parallax drift, and if you shut off your engines you stop moving. That’s “space” being a non-Newtonian fluid. You’re flying through custard, not a hard vacuum.

1v1 arena PVP would be a blast. I’ve done it in my corp, it was hugely successful. And yes, I won it in a flux-XLSB HML Gnosis against a Drake, two Brutixes, and a Harbinger - one straight after another, in a fit that cost me all of 30 million ISK. Said fit I lost on a wormhole engagement four days later :frowning:

I think there are 2 groups of people entering the proving grounds.

  1. There appears to be a small group of hardcore players, they want 2v2, 3v3 etc with bling mods.

  2. There also seems to be a more casual group who don’t want to meet a 8b caracal. This weekends ffa cruisers seems to suit them, there are hundreds of people doing the event and I don’t think I’ve ended up fighting the same folk twice. 20-40mil fits are easy to afford and as it is a ‘free for all’ there is a chance of winning every time, even if you come up against one of the leaders. Although I’ll admit I haven’t done very well in this event, it still encourages me to go back as I’m getting killmails and having fun. I’m hoping the practise will translate into more kills when out roaming.

I don’t think the event is a failure, I think they just need tweaking to suit the 2 groups above. I don’t think the drop in numbers your graphs show are very significant.

In the next few years I expect ccp to run a number of events spaced through the year to match with events in the calendar. I would guess they will keep the entry requirements <50mil with broad ranges of ships allowed. Whether there is anything that appeals to the more serious crowd I don’t know. I know I can’t afford to enter if you need bling or larger hulls.

I’m looking forward to the 1v1 frigates and have been planning my fits and training some needed skills. I’m disappointed it is also Navy frigs as they are noticeably more powerful than the t1 frigs. I’ve not decided if I’m going to use one yet.

They should make it so, if you lose in the arena, you respawn back in K-space with all your stuff :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Are you crazy, I’m going to make a killing selling mods next weekend.

Hundreds of people loosing ship after ship. Try buy a meta 4 rapid light Launcher today and you’ll see what I mean.

Blame the blue doughnut? What else was going to happen after CCP nerfed the VNI?

Uhuh…

So controlled, instanced PvP is bad, and ‘open’ PvP is bad and people defending their homes is bad too?

Ask CCP to do a new instanced arena to put all the miners and ratters in to be blown up by blowhards who just want easy kills?

I heard there was good PvP in Providence. Though looking at dotlan, it looks like something awful happened.

There is way too much nano kitey crap around. That buff to short range ammo was pointless, nothing is in range long enough.

Its sad, one can just sit in Jita 4-4 and que for PvP all day without leaving the system. The short attention spans of the COD crowd continue to permeate where they are not wanted. It started with filaments and turned into instanced PvP. The sooner both are dropped the better it will be for in game ‘interactions’, which is what doing horrible things to each other used to be called, right?

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I agree with a lot of your post, thanks for the data too. Nice to see things which actually support an argument. Although, there’s one thing that I think was a hasty generalization:

Bad implementation could still be a major cause of the “failure.” A decent amount of people were willing to give instanced PVP a try, it was only after a couple events that interest tanked.

I am curious as to why people wanted to try the instanced PVP. Was it just for the quick, cheap thrill of it?

I wanted to try it because PVP can get really stagnant. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t PVP that often. On most days I can’t dedicate hours to the game either, so it was nice to be able to login and find some action right away. Gate camps, blobs, bashing, and ganking seem to be the majority of what I find. Those really aren’t that engaging or challenging compared to small-gang PVP.

Nicely written Pedro

I don’t understand the reasoning of CCP constantly trying to tag on new mini-games. Because that is easier to develop in small pieces? They have one of the most vibrant and unique sandbox universes, but instead of improving on their strengths they dilute it by tagging on completely unrelated garbage that becomes really old really fast.

There would be so many things they could improve to actually make the sandbox experience better, the thing this game is know and played for.

The reason why this mini-games don’t work should be pretty obvious: If people want to have a MOBA experience they can find a far superior one in any dedicated MOBA game out there.