The leaked internal memo that sparked a bitter customer revolt against CCP Games was ‘misinterpreted misinformation’, the studio’s boss has said.
Hilmar Pétursson, whose Icelandic games studio last week faced the prospect of losing thousands of loyal paying Eve Online subscribers, says the source of the controversy was unfounded.
“What has affected the mood of [CCP staff] the most has been the leaks that have occurred,” Pétursson said in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz
He went on to describe the leak as “misinterpretation of internal material taken as something that it is not.”
In June, an internal studio newsletter debated whether CCP should start charging customers for in-game items that would help players progress through Eve Online. It described the game as a ‘golden goose’ and a financial platform to fund other games.
After remaining silent on the matter for a number of days, Pétursson now insists that the term golden goose is “not something that we refer to Eve or the player base as internally”.
“It was in the newsletter to make a point,” Pétursson said.
“[The newsletter] is an internal tool for discussion and debate, where people take very polarised views and write in a debating fashion, conflicting their own views, just to debate points. That's been taken as literal memos on behalf of the company when it's something entirely different,” he added.
“And that's all it is, [golden goose] is not emblematic of internal dialogue.”
Yet when the internal memo ell under the eyes of customers, without such input from Pétursson, the Eve Online community was rocked.
Customers threatened to cancel nearly 6,000 paid subscriptions of Eve Online – an exodus that would have cost CCP Games as much as $1 million annually.
And after CCP Games refused to clarify whether it would pursue the policy of charging players for in-game items, customer outrage grew into a frenzy, with mass in-game protests occurring on an unprecedented scale. Eve Online’s digital economy was frozen for hours at points, as thousands of players circled in-game landmarks in a co-ordinated attack.
Finally the Reykjavík studio buckled under pressure and held an extraordinary meeting with the Council of Stellar Management – essentially Eve’s elected customer representatives – to debate the issues.
The results from the meeting was an assurance that CCP Games will only charge players for ‘vanity’ in-game items. These products would not help players progress through the game.
Pétursson said many staff at CCP had been hurt by the protests and outrage that poured into CCP Games’ forums.
“Obviously people at CCP who have been in the business of relating to Eve subscribers have developed a hard skin because the player base can be very quite aggressive,” he added.
“I have seen people buckle under the pressure of talking to them as a group. To clam up and not be as open as they were prior to that. And really that's the nature of the beast.
“On the flip side I don't think I've ever, in the eight years I've been doing this, met an Eve player in person that wasn't fantastically enthusiastic about what we're doing.
And it's been like a wonderful experience every single time. I've never met an EVE player who has been anything less than a stellar example of nice things, but when they come together they can be quite antagonistic. Which his fine, I'm in the job of having that thrown at me and that's perfectly fine. But when they are singling out individual employees of CCP that are doing their job, that's when it gets a little too much.”