Interviews

Interviews
EVE Online: Five Years and Counting, Interview with Valerie Massey

Dana Massey | 16 Apr 2008 20:40
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"Usually players complain if you take the servers down on launch day, but one of the players said, 'I hope they take the servers down so I can go get a shower,'" she told us.

Within the first year, their original publisher Simon & Schuster Interactive would go down and CCP Games bought the rights of their own game back. While it was a sad day, their publisher had opened a lot of doors for the little Icelandic company, this marked the turning point for CCP Games.

"The online download was a huge difference for us," Massey pointed out. Under their own leadership, they were able to get the game into the hands of more people and not just rely on the box copies. From that point forward, the game began to grow. It's still no World of Warcraft, but 230,000 people is easily among the biggest Western MMOs not created by Blizzard.

The MMO marketplace has been unforgiving, especially to the inexperienced. So why, then has a company from a small rock in the North Atlantic succeeded where so many others have failed?

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"Honestly and truly, this is what I believe from my heart," said Massey. "It's the leadership that we have. It's [CEO] Hilmar [Petursson] and the other guys like [Creative Director] Reynir [Harðarson] and [CFO] Ívar [Kristjánsson] who started the company. [Petursson] believes so strongly that's his daughter's name is Eva."

"What happened was the game and the baby were supposed to be born at the same time," she explained. As EVE approached release in 2003, Petursson - who then served as the Chief Technical Officer - was hard at work on the game, while his wife was expecting a child. Eventually, the couple named the child after the game he had worked so hard on. For the record, EVE is a few months older than Eva.

"This is something he believes in strongly, it's the heart and soul for him. His approach to it is just infectious," she added.

With five years under their belt, most MMOs would be getting into old age. Not EVE, they still have aggressive plans to grow their game. This summer, they plan to launch yet another free expansion and that's where the aforementioned scoop comes in.

The title of the next expansion - revealed here for the first time - will be "The Empyrean Age," the same as the EVE novel by Tony Gonzalez also slated for the summer. The reason is simple, this is the first EVE Online expansion where the story of the game and its universe will play a key role, a lot of it based off the novel.

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"The universe of Eve has always had this fragile peace between the races and now that's going to end," Massey said. This means war and that is the core new feature: factional warfare. "People can actually take an active role and choose sides for who they want to fight for and who they want to fight against."

More details on this expansion are going to trickle out over the coming months, but it marks - at long wait - the culmination of the plan that was once upon a time called Kali and has now turned into not one, but four epic expansions: Revelations I, Revelations II, Trinity and now The Empyrean Age.

For five years, EVE Online has been a strange and unlikely journey. It's a company few thought would succeed with a product few still even understand, but those who play it swear by it and it seems to have a legion of fans who do not even play, just follow the twists and turns. Whatever the lightning they've harnessed, it doesn't seem to have dimmed. At Fanfest each year, they outline five and ten year plans that they believe will keep EVE Online relevant and cutting edge well into the next decade.

For the video interview with CEO Hilmar Petursson, click here.

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