But 2011's peak subscriber number is yet to be beaten

Eve returns to growth after summer protests

CCP Games has managed to increase the number of active Eve Online players in the last year, the company’s CEO has said.

But the Icelandic studio was not able to end 2011 with more customers than last year’s peak in activity that occurred before the summer protests.

Hilmar Pétursson told Develop he had many regrets over the “mistakes” that led to thousands of Eve Online players threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

At the height of the protests, about 1,500 Eve Online players ceased combat and together attacked in-game monuments – a tokenistic message of their displeasure with the game’s creators over a widely criticised game update.

“If you look at the Eve protests last summer, that shows how much customers can react to business decisions, and the standard they hold developers to,” Pétursson said.

“At the time we were not living up to that standard.”

Pétursson said it was important that Eve Online customers are free to air their views.

“The protests, to me, was a representation of how much people care about the game. And how is that a bad thing? I mean, I wish we didn’t get things wrong, we all make mistakes though,” he said.

“I feel sorry for making mistakes. Of course I do. We’re not gods at CCP. We don’t always know what’s best. The challenge of game design isn’t avoiding making mistakes, the challenge is knowing who your audience is and what they want.”

In a full interview with Develop
, Pétursson said Eve had grown its subscriber numbers between January and December in 2011.

“I think [that growth] says a lot about the dedication the developers have with the project, because internally we were happy with the Crucible update,” he added.

But he said the year’s record subscriber figures had not been surpassed.

“The summer peak was huge though, because of all the promises with the Incarna update. It was something that a lot of people were looking forward to,” he said.

“We didn’t meet those expectations – what we gave people wasn’t what we had promised. We should have presented it as a small tech upgrade, in beta – essentially just something you can take a look at if you want.

“But the protests were an example of the enthusiasm people have for Eve Online. What we had to do, and what we always have to do, is listen, admit we made mistakes, and update.”

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