I’ve never been so confident of CCP’s previous claims of cause and effect when it comes to PvP. The reason? They have a less than stellar history on other different past data points and the conclusion and subsequent game development that was implemented. RW for one. PvE development focuses/concepts for another. There are many other examples. CCP has always claimed that losing ships early through PvP was good for player retention based on the data. I felt they were misinterpreting the numbers by projecting their preconceived concepts for EVE on the data; taking the most favorable interpretation they could to validate their thinking.
I always felt that those people who were already predispositioned to be adventurous and take risk would be far more likely undertake actions which would have a higher percentage of ship loss. Exploring LS and WHs, joining FW, trying to join a NS corporation,etc. These players are looking for excitement and are willing to accept higher risk because they crave the adrenalin rush. To them, win or lose, the rush is what they are looking for and, therefore, they are far more likely to stay in the game because they will always have activities in EVE that offer that chance of excitement. By this principle, they will have a far higher rate of ship loss, but are retained at a higher percentage because it provides the rush.
In the meantime, CCP has created a stagnant and slowly evolving PvE that can grow monotonous quickly. Their attempts at creating new content has either been almost nonexistent in the last decade or has veered one direction or another, usually trying to force either group activities or end game content to bored NS alts. Players who decided to do the majority of their EVE gaming doing PvE activities quickly found themselves bored or, if WD in a newer corp, unable to maintain any activity they managed to find and enjoy. They found EVE to be lacking in PvE activities and growth, leaving the game for other games that balanced the game play better.
I think that the newly implemented system they installed with Into the Abyss is showing CCP devs that some of their original thinking/concepts are no longer (if actually ever) true. Rather than saying that ship loss through PvP retains players, I think they are finding out that players who enjoy the adrenaline rush undertake activities where ship loss through PvP is much higher. These players were far more committed to EVE from the start; they were far more aggressive and self confident win or lose. In the end, a higher retention rate shown by those players losing ships through PvP shows that committed aggressive players remain playing EVE longer because that IS THEIR NATURE, not that PvP ship loss itself causes player retention.
Of course, I may be incorrect, although I have looked through a lot of CCP dev presentations and blogs. I feel they had a basic flaw in their arguments; that their cause/effect was incorrectly connected. Hopefully, CCP will be more open about parts of what they are finding so that the community have a more accurate grasp on what exactly the problems are and to drive discussions in more productive directions. I am NOT advocating for a PvP freezone in HS, but corrections to current faulty mechanics and gameplay that reduce player retention. In the end, I doubt that CCP would ever come out a admit they had erred if it was revealed that they had been wrong in the cause/effect of PvP on player retention. @Brisc_Rubal any word from CCP since they dropped the bombshell at EVEVegas? Please encourage them to be a little more communicative with the community; its starting to fracture around the seams.