Greedy Goblin

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Welfare" isn't an offensive word for recipients

After CCP announced that 50% of the paying players quit soon, 40% goes solo "leveling up their Raven" (and quit later) and only 10% gets involved in the sandbox, I suggested a quite obvious band-aid: let them level their Ravens much longer, by giving them PvP and jump-incapable highsec supercapitals. These ships would be bad choice as a tool for any job, but they would be an obvious "solo progression" goal, an "achievement" or "epic mount".

The Goon propaganda brigade jumped into action, but not in the way I expected them. I expected them criticizing the ungankability of these ships, but probably even they realized that if the player quits, he can't be ganked either. No, they came with the reasoning that such open disrespect of solo players would backfire on CCP, making them lose more players. Their point is that this would tell people "here, grind for a useless mining titan, you aren't good for anything else" and they would get offended by this.

Sounds pretty true. However if it would be true, World of Warcraft and World of Tanks would be closed long ago. Both games give the bad players welfare. If you manage to fail a raid even on the easiest difficulty, you get a stacking buff for every wipe until you can kill it. You can also get "welfare epics" for trivial tasks, like killing enough random mobs or playing arena on 500 rating. In World of Tanks the matchmaking places you into a battle with near 50% win chance, regardless of your skill, so you'll win half of your battles even if you are purposefully trolling. Yet the bad players don't get offended by it.

There is more! "Welfare epics" isn't a derogatory term used by "elite" players for the rewards available to lesser players. The term was used by devs on Blizzcon (the Fanfest of WoW) and this is the official term for it. The WoT matchmaking algorithm is patented, making it open what I called "cheat". Mechwarrior Online openly uses ELO rating system without showing the rating, so playing bad has absolutely no difference from playing good. And yet the bad players aren't offended. Good players are and these games are avoided by them, giving WoW its bad name.

But the crown jewel is yet to come: "welfare" isn't a derogatory term in real life, despite we live in a world where you can get heat for calling your own team "Redskins". Some extremists even consider "black coffee" racist. Yet "welfare" isn't renamed to "rightful rewards for people who live for fun", and yet no one got offended by it. Welfare recipients don't consider it a shameful thing.

My point is that while you would be offended if a game developer would tell "you suck, but take some fake rewards for your lowly performance", this cannot be generalized. You want to not suck, you want to win, so you want a game that gives clear and obvious feedback to your performance. Realizing that you got welfare epics would make you mad because it shows that the developer considers you incapable of improving.

The morons and slackers on the other hand don't want to improve and see absolutely no problem with them being useless. They actually don't see why should they be any useful. Their purpose isn't to create or reach something but to "have fun". A real life welfare recipient is fully aware that he isn't doing anything but he still feel entitled for various things from the society. If he doesn't get "enough" he goes and steal them. The point isn't that they are leeches, the point is that they don't find it a problem or a source of shame.

Socials don't want to look useless, but they don't value being good in something either. They believe that you must make an effort, but it's not a problem if your efforts are futile. When Keynes suggested "The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up.", there were no protests despite the obvious futility of the task. "You sound like Keynes" isn't an insult. Recently the Hungarian government started a huge social employment program, employing 10% of the workforce in rather pointless tasks. The liberals thinkers were outraged by this and considered it a violation of the dignity of the ones made to participate. The government got re-elected with record numbers and their support among such "workers" were 80%+ according to the opinion surveys. They praised the government for creating jobs. Social people love the completely pointless "dig holes and fill them" jobs, exactly because you can't fail in them.

The very idea that your work should be any useful is "being capitalist". The worker is paid for his hours, it's the business owner whose income depends on the results. If a shop sells nothing for a year, the owner gets bankrupt, the shopkeepers get their "well earned" salary.

CCP can safely introduce rewards for pointless grinding, the social players will love it and it'll greatly increase their subscriber count. The only thing they have to be careful with is that these rewards must not be useful in PvP or competitive in ISK making, or they turn EVE into space-WoW and drive their current subscribers away. "Being WoW" means "sub-par performance gives competitive rewars". I don't suggest that. What I suggest is "sub-par performance should give sub-par rewards" instead of the current "you can't get anything for sub-par performance" which drive the M&S and socials away, unless they are in a space-communist group where others carry them in turn of their occasional F1 pushing. F1 pushing is a perfect job for socials: easy, you are with "friends" and you aren't responsible for the outcome (the FC is).


Anonymous said...

Look at countries like Australia and the UK. There you have generations of families living on welfare and those people aren't offended and in some cases are even proud of the fact that they don't work and live on welfare.

In fact in Australia, the lower class who live exclusively on welfare, often called bogans, see it as their right to not have to work and live on welfare. Not only are they proud of it, they revel in it and to suggest they are offended is laughable.

In fact, they would be more offended that you suggest that they find work.

Anonymous said...

TBH the goons are wrong. The problem with the idea is that it assumes lack of a goal is why so many solo players quit. It could well be a contributing factor, but the fact that eve's farmable content is really, really awful even compared to grinding raids or dungeons in WOW probably doesn't help.

nightgerbil said...

theres an old cockney saying dating from dawn of time it seems: "only fools and horses work"

I believe they were saying it before welfare was even invented.

I also second Anoy 05.40s comment that the reason for eves godawful subscriber numbers isnt because its super hard (its not) its because most normal people cant force themselves to endure the pve. I know I can't and I enjoyed wow fishing, pet battles and flying round in circles mining.

Want to fix eves sub numbers? hire some ex bioware/blizz devs to make the pve interesting and *shock* FUN.

Lucas Kell said...

I think you miss the point. Welfare gives you what other people get, but for free. In real life, you get money and housing and food, etc. In wow, you get weapons which make it easier for you to join random epic groups and make it though. In WoT you get put in to positions where you can win against your opponent. What you are suggesting is not welfare, it's a distraction. It's basically saying "we don't really want you playing with the rest of us, so here's some crayons, go play over there by yourself". And that's why it would make people leave rather than stay.

My really question to you is, why do you want these people to stay? Why are you even trying to come up with ideas to make them stay? Padding EVE out with people who don't like EVE by finding them something else to do sounds like a truly terrible idea. I would have thought you'd welcome the chance to have less morons in the game.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

@Lucas Kell
There is currently no solution to "crayons" versus "play with us" dilemma in MMOs.
However, it is well understood within the industry that any MMO that does not at least implement crayons is an MMO that eventually dies.

It is possible to say "i'm going to make this product for this group of players, have them play it for a few years and then make it become a niche community that doesn't pay me any real money but supports my brand". In that case, catering to whims and whimsies of target player audience - and locking the game for said audience - is perfectly reasonable.

But that's not what CCP is gunning at with Eve. They seem to want a world that will last for both their's and player's lifetimes.
You can't do that with exclusiion mentality.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: there is more than that! The crayons are - by definition - irrelevant to the other players, so effects no other players negatively.

Therefore there is no risk of affecting the game balance negatively or driving the existing subscriber base off. The only calculation CCP has to make is "development cost vs expected income". Since they just reskinned dozens of ships, we can assume that introducing these highsec version supercapitals wouldn't be a sum that hurt CCP.

So WORST POSSIBLE case: they made them and no one built a single one.

Barcas said...

I started Eve with the goal to fly a big Spacecruiser and blow things up. Yet after I got to battleship-level I realized that I couldn't do anything with my new shiny BS in HighSec - just the same Missions over and over again.

That was the first time I quitted EVE, I think.
I had no goal anymore (I think you are right on this one). Would I have stayed with a Titan on the horizon? I don't know. There is much to try as new player, yet after some time you get how things are running -> I think the step to the Titan will be to far away, so people will realize/reject the stupidity of the grind, even if it would be a prestigious goal to reach.

I think if you want the people who like Solo-content you have to add solo content and thats expensive and the pve community is an ungrateful one (opinion).

Another thing:
In wow everyone is rubbing his grinded rubish mounts in everyone elses face by standing in front of the auction house. So Titans in front of every major trade station?

(Personal note: At the moment I'm letting myself blown up in lowsec, so I think I am valuable for you guys :-P)

Lucas Kell said...

"it is well understood within the industry that any MMO that does not at least implement crayons is an MMO that eventually dies."
I think you misunderstand. WoWs welfare is not "crayons". WoT match selection is not "crayons". "Crayons" in a game is where someone has a particular thing that means they can be segregated off and no longer play with anyone else, they simply sit on their own doing their own thing, affecting and being affected by nobody. That happens outside of welfare and people can choose to do crayon-like activities of their own accord.

Welfare in games is a way to provide a low effort or effort free way of getting to the stage where you can play with others in the same way they would if they were off of welfare. In WoW, you get your welfare epics, then you can start jumping into raids, that's their aim. The problem with Gevlon's idea is it's not welfare. It's just more crayon activity, and it results in nothing. Most people, even the morons, would not want to play for a useless item that does nothing but state "look at how bad I am".

"It is possible to say "i'm going to make this product for this group of players, have them play it for a few years and then make it become a niche community that doesn't pay me any real money but supports my brand"."
It's also possible to just say "this is a niche game". Sure, there's loads of things CCP could do that would mainstream eve and bring in more players. They could stop scams and unwanted PVP in highsec, they could stop awoxing, they could reduce the complexity of nearly every system, they could make it so you don't lose items on exploding and instead wake up with your fitted ship. The list goes on. The point is though that they don't, because EVE is a niche game, it's population is by design. People say they need to "fix" the player retention. I'd say it doesn't need fixing.

"Therefore there is no risk of affecting the game balance negatively or driving the existing subscriber base off."
You can't really say no risk. Every small change gets a large number of players up in arms. If they sad "hey, so were going to add this unique content to highsec players who don't want to interact with anyone", I guarantee you there would be backlash, especially if it could be used for anything even remotely productive. An all for what? So they can retain a few more players that don't like EVE? Hardly sounds like a good use of time.

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: the players who WANT and CAN play with others in eve are those who enjoy this niche game.

Others can't play with others, as they don't want to be killed or scammed, which is "playing EVE with others".

Changing the game to cater to these players would destroy its current playerbase (like catering to drooling kids destroyed WoW for raiders).

The only solution is crayons: this way these players can play EVE without anyone caring or without them having to care about anyone. It would be practically two different games using the same engine and servers.

Lucas Kell said...

"The only solution is crayons"
How is that the only solution? A perfectly viable solution, which has been the chosen solution for a long time, is to not try to keep the players who don't like EVE. I look at EVE, being a successful and long running MMO, and I see a game successfully filling a niche. The fact that players who don't fit into that niche aren't being catered to isn't a problem that requires a solution, it's an inevitable and acceptable consequence of a niche game.

Anonymous said...

The outrage surrounding such schemes as you mentioned in hungary (when implemented in other nations, such as the UK) is due to the bizarre notion that people should be paid a wage, determined by the market, above the minimum wage..This is somewhat different to people working for their benefits..
In the UK, the concept that businesses could get "free" labour (benefits recipients working for them, for no cost to them, in order to receive their benefits) was considered by some crazy people to be remarkably non-capitalistic. They had this notion that capitalism indicates that if you have a job that needs doing, you should pay the individual, and that by getting workers for 30 hours a week that you are not paying at all is something like welfare, but for corporations, and, strangely, people across the world are starting to think that corporations getting "welfare" is a bigger problem than individuals :)

Welfare is not an offensive word for anyone, apart from corporations who prefer terms such as "subsidy", or "bailout", or concepts such as workfare.

Anonymous said...

I would argue that an end game capital ship status symbol wouldn't create much interest or incentive. If a person won't grid for more than a month with the goal of flying a maurader or T3, why do so for a useless cap?

And in theory, CCP has this. Yet how many of the Caldari epic arc Labs exist? It doesn't seem like a large quantity.

Wouldn't it be better to push for that which drives a solo grinder? In Diablo, it was collecting legendary gear. In WoW it's loot in some form too, be it a mount or gear.

Perhaps Eve needs more junk loot that people can collect. For example, make an epic arc for Interbus that is somewhere between the Sisters Arc and the faction epics. The reward could be a 10 run bpc for a unique skin on a battlecruiser and the arch is available every 3 months. Add in other epic arcs or even mini ones for each faction reward with vanity loot items. You don't want anything game impacting, just status symbols. Say each faction navy has a 10 mission mini arc that rewards players with a Navy uniform.

In other words, don't create and end goal of limited value, but rather progression vanity steps that lead players to explore new areas of the game and content.

mordis mydaddy said...

These suggestions from Gevlon are so opposite of what he said previously. I remember him saying that miners who do nothing but mine and PLEX their accounts bring no content or value to the game...CCP should let them leave...They could be replaced by NPCs and NPC sell orders. At least those miners are content for minerbumpers and gankers. These hisec titans really would be isolated.

Gevlon said...

@Mordis: the point is that they DON'T PLEX their account, as they spend their ISK on the titan! And maybe even spend real money to buy PLEX to get ISK for the titan.

The miners currently have nothing to spend their ISK on, but PLEX, so they play for free and provide no content.

Anonymous said...

Digging holes for no particular reason is a dumb idea. There are thousands of useful things for people to do, even just walking around picking up litter, scrubbing the street or doing some other community or charity work. If you are going to give people welfare and get them to do a job they should do that. If you have no work to give them, which is unlikely to ever happen, you shouldnt just make up a job so they have to work for their pay. thats a misunderstanding of why people work, and a way to try to punish people for depending on the state.

Von Keigai said...

I don't think what drives off the average solo missioner is the lack of a goal. It takes longer to max out a Raven than they are in the game. Much less a Marauder.

It's the lack of content. You get the same 20 missions (or whatever the number is; it's quite small), over and over. This quickly turns into a grind. The progression up to L4 does not take that long, and more importantly, when you move up from L2 to L3 to L4 missions, you get new content. It is the new content that keeps you interested. A whole new mission you've never done before! Wow!

What if CCP added one brand new L4 mission per week? That would keep a lot of bored missioners coming back. And you know what? Back in the day, they actually did create a new L4 per week, on average. And that was with a lot fewer employees. That they do not now is a function of lack of will on their part, not that it is technically impossible.

Improving the quality of the PVE would also help a lot. However, that's a lot harder than just creating some new missions.

I think that hiring a developer or two to create a new mission per week would pay for itself easily in subs. There are several thousand newbs per month trying EVE. (After B-R5RB, this number spiked to 15000, supposedly.) Let's ballpart low; assume there are 1000 newbs per month. 40% of them mission for a few months then quit. Call it three months on average. Let's say that by having more missions you can extend the life of the 40% to five months. That's a total of 800 subscription-months of extra income, per month. At $15 per subscription-month, it's $40000; over a year it is $320000. That's a developer salary, at least.

Anonymous said...

The one good thing I see about getting people to stay in the game longer, is that it may give them more time to find what they like to do in the game.

There are so many things to do, maybe one or two extra months would give them time to catch a comment in local, or see a forum post about something they end up liking more about Eve and go off and do that for a while.

Anonymous said...

hire some ex bioware/blizz devs to make the pve interesting and *shock* FUN.
Well ... it's called carbine studio. and the 17 founders come from old blizz. They make wildstar.

welfare definition: statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need.
Therefore we can't really call it "welfare items" nobody in the virtual world is in need.

There is no skill today. Like we don't teach kids (world wide. Some western indoctrinated countries more than others) to fail and learn. No. Every kid wins no one is a loser anymore.
So whatever hardcore 90s game nostalgia the people with proper upbringing try to resurrect into the "no one fails" world of today. will fail. They need per design rediclous xp gain to reach endgame fast. Also the "entry gear" can't be quest greens and blues anymore.
WoW challenge mode dungeons bring back true skill. whoever leads the high score table can pad themselves on the back for the countless hours of strategy and wipes. Wildstar devote a good chunk of time&resources to please the ambitious 1-2% of player base with warplot pvp or raids pve (we will see how that rolls out and if carbine studios stay true to their promise to not tune down that particular content)

On EVE. it's just sandbox. you can't welfare anything in a sandbox. Since themepark mmos .. people forget how to enjoy themselves sitting in a pit full of sand.

maxim said...


I understand that you seem to think that Eve is okay as a niche game which is played only by people that like it.

I just don't find this to be a sustainable paradigm for an MMO project. Something less ambitious, sure, but MMOs tend to be just too expensive to remain "niche".
10% long-term retention was the de facto standard for cheap mobile apps three years ago, and even then it wasn't a number that indicated success or was anything to be proud of. Nowadays, this is a sign of impending doom. Especially for a project that actually has a budget dedicated to attracting new customers.

I am not a big fan of Gevlon's suggestions on the topic. Single-system TItan sounds a little ridiculous. Maybe if it was a very important system, but then you'd need mechanics in place to prevent t3h hardcor3s from making it into a newbie titan graveyard.

However, he at least is thinking about it. Pretending that this isn't a problem, on another hand, strikes me as both juvenile and ignorant.

Anonymous said...

@ Von Keigai

You're dead on here. I've been playing Eve for over 6 years and while I only missioned for about the first 4-6 months, when ever I raid a mission now I laugh to myself that I still remember it.
A few of my friends that started me off in Eve burnt out on it after grind the same missions within 2-3 months and quit. I only stayed because I was drawn into PvP and it made the game more exciting and I ran with it.
While I'm not going to say "PvP or Die," there's content to be made that could carefully combine the two worlds of PvE & PvP. Of course adding more story dynamic of PvE Missions really needs to be done.
Tougher higher level Missions could involve an opposing mission of another player. Something that could more easily introduce a PvP side of the game. If a player could "Prepare" in a sense, knowing another player will be a factor in a mission would be far more intriguing.
More content with joining these two play styles on a joint community level that required multiple professions would be an amazing dynamic that I'd love to see like this person's post. Some comments also add to the idea of an Expedition style adventure that sounds dangerous and rewarding. Have a look:

TLDR: More Intriguing content is needed vs pointless shiney things.

PS: Welfare means dependancy... That's a Bad thing.

Péter Zoltán said...

Currently WoW LFR rewards (=Welfare) are not comparable to heroic loot. The itemlevel gap became so huge, it's like the whole vanilla-BC itemization gap, resulting in 300-400% performance gap. Clearly, LFR gear can't hold a candle to elite raider's gear.
Therefore WoW welfare gear is like "crayons". While good players raid heroics for great gear and difficult encounters, bad players grind overly easy LFR for shiny peanuts. Their reward is worthless, but looks shiny because its "EPIIIXX LOOL".
Also they are making the gap even bigger: in the next expansion LFR will reward no tier pieces, not even dumbed down tier pieces. It will not even look good. This way real raiders will barely ever have any reason to play the lowest difficulty - set bonuses will no longer be completed there. The welfare people will have to play without the boosting power of the elite. That will be interesting. Also, this is in line with what you proposed earlier: there will be less reason and incentive for good players to mix with baddies -> less frustration in the community. Except that baddies may get frustrated for wiping too much without the elite geared boosters :)

Anonymous said...

The reason so many people quit is that they simply don't like the game mechanics. If they decide not to go "pro-pvp", but mining instead, they will get ganked. Often, as unfamiliar with pvp mechanics, they get lured into combat, usually with the wrong ships...
Eve is just no pvp game, it's just an ambush game, where one can safely choose where and when to engage...
So, a catalyst ganker solo will never attack a cane, drake or whatnot. They will hit retrievers, haulers...
As CCP falsely repeats it's slogan the higher the risk, the higher the reward, most people are unaware of the dangers of so-called hisec...
So, they grind their way up to a raven, do some lv4's an think they have achieved something. Then they fly in Osmon or Lanngisi and get ganked with a faction fit ship worth several hundred millions....
They realize, the game mechanic is shit as they lost 1,2 billion isk and the gankers maybe 200M... risk/reward? yeah right, so they leave.
I have played several thousand matches in WoT and their matchmaking is the WORST feature ever! But still, with a well organized platoon one can turn around matches as we managed to make 11-14 kills just with our three tanks.
So, lots of people like pvp, but they like it on an even scale, both ships fitted for pvp and sort of balanced...

Olivier said...

Hold on, I'm new to the game, but who logs onto a game as complex as eve, commits to it and sinks countless hours without even reading anything about it?

What drove me to start playing Eve is the difficulty of it, the amount of knowledge one has to acquire over time to get better.

I'm pretty bad, at present, but every fight I fell victim to hanker, WT, pirates, or whoever I had decided to try my luck at shooting, I've learnt something.

I don't think the M&S would stick, even in a perfect guarded Park. They want to feel big, even in a small pond, but with their crayons they LD just feel like morons, and rightly so.