Player meetups for EVE Online are as much a part of the game’s culture as its spaceships. These gatherings run the gamut of size and spectacle, from small groups drinking with friends at their local bar to the massive annual Fanfest gathering in Reykjavik, Iceland organized by the game’s publisher, CCP. This year saw something unique: CCP took Fanfest on the road. Rather than doing one massive event in Iceland, eight different locations around the world received the full Fanfest treatment. Locations all around the world were chosen: St Petersburg, Russia; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; and some random EVE player’s house in Kemiönsaari, Finland.
Fanfest at Home was announced during Fanfest Iceland in 2018. CCP said it would deliver the full Fanfest experience—complete with a keynote and a visit by CCP’s CEO—directly to one player’s house. A contest was held last September, inviting players to make sizzle reels of their house to explain why their crib would be the perfect place to host a customized EVE gathering. Submissions to the contest were screened at EVE Vegas 2018. The chosen winner was Lauri, from Finland.
The video, produced by a group of EVE players from Finland, showed off Lauri’s house and advertised that there would be good food, plenty of space in the saunas, and that the event would feature a probably unnecessary amount of nudity. Naked Finnish butts aside, Kemiönsaari, Finland was selected as the host city for Fanfest at Home.
During the event’s opening ceremony, which was streamed on Twitch, CCP Dopamine and CCP Convict introduced those watching at home to Lauri, and the rest of the in-person audience, comprised of a few of Lauri’s closest EVE buddies, a few more CCP staff, and a journalist there to document the event. They took a tour of his house, his backyard, and his sauna, where all of the weekend’s activities would be taking place. The majority of the content delivered from Fanfest at Home took the form of a four hour fireside conversation between CCP’s CEO Hilmar Veigar and EVE Online creative director Bergur Finnbogason.
During the conversation, the duo spoke about many of the core concepts of EVE’s identity. They touched on the importance of death having meaning in EVE, CCP’s renewed focus on introducing new players to the game in a more approachable manner, and the wild economy that EVE is famous for. They occasionally paused to take questions from Twitch chat or the live audience, made up of the local Finnish EVE community. Reddit user vhdblood compiled a summary of the four hour conversation, which is also on Twitch in its entirety.
During the fireside, Veigar and Finnbogason also announced a new version of the EVE Portal app, which will be released in the coming week. It will allow players to not only see their in-game skill queue, but edit it in real time from their mobile phones. Players will be able to purchase certain skillbook items off of the in-game market so they can begin training on a new skill while away from their computer. This may seem small, but being able to truly interact with the game world from a mobile device is something a lot of EVE players have asked for for a long time.
After the conclusion of the fireside discussion, the cameras continued to roll for a few more hours as the group of EVE Developers and fans chatted with each other, had a few beers, and cooked dinner together. While there was not a lot of new EVE content presented during Fanfest at Home, viewers were able to experience a great deal of EVE’s history and the philosophy behind the game’s design.
Fanfest at Home came to its public end with Finnbogason, known as CCP Burger to the EVE community, grilling hamburgers on stream for their host. Fanfest at Home is one of the most unique and frankly odd events I have ever seen hosted by a video game publisher, but, as an EVE player, it doesn’t surprise me. The relationship CCP has with its players is very unique; developers, graphic artists, and even the CEO are incredibly approachable to players. It’s very common at the various Fanfest events to see large groups of players sharing drinks and discussing the game into the wee hours of the morning. Events like Fanfest at Home serve to underline this relationship and challenge the boundaries between developers and fans.