How does EVE fail at being an appealing sandbox game?

I often see many people say that they enjoy reading about the stories of wars and huge battles that take place in EVE. This makes me wonder, why aren’t these people engaging with the game on a more intimate level? How does EVE fail to capture and hold those that would love to be part of the content and story?

I can see how it is possible to make your dreams happen in EVE. If you want to be a rich player who engages in market pvp you can. If you want to learn to be an FC and grow in fame and skill in a major nullsec power you can. If you want to be a pirate and steal peoples isk, break into corporations and steal their ships and modules, or start a small war that you fund to drive your own narrative you can. There are many ways to play the game and yet for all the options that are present it still fails somehow to pull people in and hold them.

Are the tools available too limited or difficult to grasp, the game too sophisticated, or what is it that keeps others from being a part of EVE? Is it merely an elitist club in one the last remaining successful niche mmo’s that pushes those away that don’t agree with its methods? Are the developers controlling the design, the players, or both in leading the game down the road it is on today? I wonder if that road is the right one as the games population continues to dwindle. Perhaps all good things do come to an end, but it doesn’t have to.

I often wonder also if I would have loved EVE more if I got here in the beginning and tried it out. Maybe in the past it did more things right than it did wrong, but that is of course merely speculation and I wasn’t here.


Eve has always been a game with a very steep learning curb - it puts a lot of people off, its also a game that definitely does not do much for players that are more casual or want to player the game mostly solo.
And that is ok… it really is.
Eve has done a lot of reduce the level of entry to the market and to Eve in general. But I do think the new tutorial doesn’t do much to help new players to really develop important skills beyond basic navigation and simple npc fighting. So that could be one minor criticism of the new tutorial as compared to what it used to be like a few years ago. But its still fine it just puts more emphasis on the player to want to learn. Eve encourages a greater level of engagement with the game especially early on. But it is possible to have fun from day one and it is easy enough to carve out a niche for yourself in New Eden.

As for making Eve more appealing… I think people need to calm down - the northern Summer is always quieter in Eve and come October it will turn around again. The game has made significant changes recently and this could lead to a massive boom for the game over the next 6-9 months. But even if it doesn’t, the game is still healthy and it will keep going for a long time to come.


Easy title question.
Answer: CCP

The short answer is that enjoying the sandbox requires time and good luck on top of personal skill, and since time and good luck are scarce, most players never enjoy the sandbox.


Liking the stories is one thing. Being part of them is another.

The newsworthy stories involve organizations that boast of tens of thousands of players. It takes a huge ego to see oneself as becoming anything other than a foot soldier in those stories. Getting anywhere would require a lot of dedication with little guarantee of success. Thanks to this game’s reputation getting backstabbed is much more likely.

So most people satisfy themselves with a glass of port whilst perusing the various bits and bobs of war propaganda. And maybe a dip or two into C&P.


How does EVE fail at being an appealing sandbox game?

EVE is too time-consuming and sometimes feels like a job.


When I first tried EVE 10+ years ago, I didnt like the skill system at all. I felt it hurt people who actually played the game. But now that I have settled a bit more in my real life I enjoy the skill system I still think some skill points should be earned by doing but I can settle on what is here now.

The issue that drives a lot of people away is and will always be the perception that EVE is a “spreadsheet game”. And they aren’t completely wrong. You can play this game without ever looking at your ship, I play in tactical overlay mode. CTRL click on hostile targets on my local sensor box, then hit 1-5 for my weapons, and click on the systems I want to use hit O for my set orbit range on some object or target.

Not a lot of actual “twitch” elements, and with todays generation of gamers they want easy fast paced combat. Just look at Overwatch, and LoL.


What makes you think the game’s population is dwindling?

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Reading and enjoying something takes far less effort than actually being engaged in that something.

I like reading articles about NASA and space. I look forward to the Japan vs USA heavy robot competition. I would love to be engaged in both but lack the time, skill, and money to be involved in either.

I like watch the alliance tournament. I would love to be involved more than just donating to a team. However I simply lack the time to watch all the matches when aired live, much less the time to devote to the practice needed by any of the teams.

None of this has to do with game design. It is simply time and effort. So perhaps instead of looking for some smoking gun in game design or blaming CCP, why not thank some of those who do put the extra effort in and see if there is a way to help?

I am a good example of that… Because I tried to help, because I lead fleets, and because I ran events, I went from being a timid faceless scrub to helping run Red vs Blue. Real life pulled me away, but if a shy introvert can do it, so can anyone else. It just takes time and effort.


The ability to read a graph, perhaps?


Look at Hulkagedon as another example. There is no real game mechanic change that makes Hulkagedon impossible. Ok, may be it would need a change to mak-agedon or some rule adjustments to cover the more commonly used mining vessels in use.

However, nothing in the game mechanics make it impossible. Harder maybe, but what fin is an easy challenge? Still what it does take is someone to put the effort in. Someone had to setup the rules and websites. Someone has to collect prizes and donations. Someone had to run the show. That takes effort. People have to put up the effort.

So… Instead of complaining on the forums and doing nothing, get active. Put the effort in. Be the content that you want to see. It may sound lame and cheesy, but that is the reality. It’s easy to be an F1 monkey, a little harder to be s scout, run logi, be ewar, or even FC. It’s far harder to make a Spectre Fleet, manage a big corp, or make that big content. Still if you do… Game mechanics be damned, you will have fun.

I mean… like dude… are you joking by asking that question?

Or like… i duno… need help interpreting Chribba’s player count graph?


If I showed you a graph that said you should jump off a bridge, would you do it?

“. . . as the games population continues to dwindle.” . . . population of what?

I don’t know… If it was a convincing enough graph… Like time spent on bridge during a fire fires survivability, I could see jumping.

Oooo… May be length of budge cord stretch vs weight of user would compel me to jump. It’s all a matter of context.

That said, it still takes effort to make content in a sandbox game and way, way, way too many people just don’t want to put the effort in.

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Looking at those graphs… The 1 year graph shows a sharp spike during alpha introduction yes, but it also shows that the levels of login were lower before than spike than now.

The 3 and 6 month show a summer dip which is starting to decline.

So I don’t see the game dying. It seems things are slowly rising. Would online a higher count and larger rise, yes but still the trends seem to point up instead of down.

Exactly. And, similarly, the eve-offline graph doesn’t specifically say that EVE’s population is “dwindling”. It just gives us a number in relation to another number. I personally don’t know if it is counting unique characters, even, so that 20-30k characters loggged in concurrently could mathematically represent an infinite number of unique characters. We’d need more variables to lock down the true meaning of the relationship between time and characters online, many more variables.

Maybe the OP has some. That’s why I asked such a stupid seeming question.

Because much of the actual mechanics of playing it are boring and time consuming, and creating content takes more effort than most people can be bothered with.


If {short term average} < {long term average} the trend is decreasing. Period. 5 year average = 43k. 1 year average = 35k. 6 month average = 32k. We’re in a down trend. If you don’t agree, I invite you to trade stocks.

There are local spikes due to season and CCP updates to the game, but overall the player count is decreasing. This doesn’t mean the actual number of PLAYERS is decreasing, but the number of logged in accounts/alts, etc IS decreasing. CCP doesn’t care about how many people play - the subs are based on accounts. Fewer accounts = fewer subs = less income. Of course this does NOT take into account PLEX. The smaller account base could be spending more cash per account. Only CCP has those figures.