Wracked by boneheaded decisions involving game expansions and the sale of virtual goods, EVE Online's community has been in an uproar for several months. The outrage was so loud that the game's publisher has now prostrated himself in begging forgiveness, with a 1,500-word self-flagellating unconditional apology.
"The estrangement from CCP that many of you have been feeling of late is my fault, and for that I am truly sorry," writes Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, the CEO of CCP, in a groveling note that in no way mimics the faux-humble so-sorry that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tossed out to derision three weeks ago.
There seem to be two problems here, the first is "Captain's Quarters," a mandatory singleplayer mode that was not well received and, in the end, came off like a partial beta of an upcoming world expansion. "Forcing players into a mandatory single-player Captain's Quarters experience was a mistake," Pétursson wrote, saying the extension's features showed that CCP "had fallen out of touch with our community."
"We underestimated our development time, set impractical or misleading expectations, and added insult to injury by removing something in which players were emotionally invested," Pétursson wrote.
More egregious was the infamous virtual goods rollout, something Pétursson charitably describes as "underwhelming." In reality, it offered such cosmetic doodads as monocles at real-world costs upwards of $70. A stupefyingly tone-deaf defense of brand-name virtual good purchases spasmed the EVE community further, to the point full-blown rioting broke out in-world back in June. The crisis required a special session of the goddamn real-life parliament governing EVE, convened in Iceland.
"We also didn't do enough to assure you that this wasn't the beginning of a 'pay to win' scenario in EVE," Pétursson wrote. "Let me be blunt: Unless the MMO business changes radically, our virtual goods strategy for EVE Online will remain limited in scope and focus on vanity items ... The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time."
Pétursson closes his mea culpa by vowing that "[W]e've taken action to ensure these mistakes are never repeated. We have reexamined our processes, hired experienced industry professionals for key leadership positions, reassessed our priorities, moved personnel around and, above all else, recognized our limitations."
I don't claim to know the mind of an EVE player or the culture in which he participates, but as far as surrenders go, this one looks rather unconditional. Will it matter in the end?