So, there’s an interesting development happening in Eve right now. The client is bugged with an error which causes a second client opened on the same computer to crash. The result is that players are only able to log in a single account at a time. This started after downtime, and CCP is aware of the problem and actively working on repairing it.
But this presents a rare opportunity to gain a little insight into the true player base, rather than the PCU or active account base. How many people are really playing Eve online?
At 12:00 Eve time, we had 7,700 players logged in to the game today during this glitch. CCP was able to fix the problem by around 12:30, after which players restarted their clients and began to log in their alts. By 12:50, the player count was up to 12,145. At 13:00, we were at 13,068.
One of my corpmates expressed the hope that the issue wouldn’t be resolved until at least EU peak, so we could see a more accurate count of logged-in players. But we may have enough information to extrapolate that number, both for the EUTZ and USTZ.
Now, first, let me put the caveat that from an in-game engagement perspective, I like having lots of characters logged in. More characters logged in means more characters to shoot. And that’s always a good thing. However, the health of the game is more influenced by the number of players than the number of characters.
I’d rather have 50,000 players logging in one character each day than 10,000 players logging in 5 characters each day, because the former is more resistant to shock than the second. By this, I mean that in the first scenario, a pissed-off player results in one lost logged-in character; in the second, you lose five, which is a much greater loss.
So, during this glitch, we had 7,700 players logged in – and we know it was players because alts couldn’t be logged in on the same computer. Could some players have started up another computer and logged in an alt so they could gain an advantage? Sure, likely did happen, but probably not in numbers needed to skew our analysis.
An hour later – and half an hour after the patch went down, we were up to 13,000. Sure, some people likely logged in freshly, but I suspect we had some players also log off because they couldn’t get their links up and running (or their Orca boosts, hauler/scout, etc.). So I’m willing to call it square if you are.
That means that in the AUTZ today, every player was responsible for 1.7 accounts logged in. Or, put a different way, two out of every three players logs in two accounts each.
Is that ratio relevant for the EUTZ and the USTZ? I’d wager it is, since the behavior that leads to success in Eve isn’t time zone specific. That means the 32,000 in the EUTZ equates to 18,000 actual players, and the USTZ’s 18,000 characters are controlled by only 10,600 actual people.
I can’t decide if that number is larger or smaller than I expected. On the one hand, I fly two accounts all the time. But seeing that 10,600 number for the USTZ… that’s a frighteningly low number.
Yet, I reassure myself that that’s a snapshot number; without knowing how many players log in during a given day, it’s only partially valuable. I’d much rather have a very large number of players who log in briefly, then get bored and log off. Those players are retainable, and can increase their engagement. But if we only have 50,000 players who log in throughout the whole day… we’re in trouble. It’s still too early to tell, but this is another piece of the puzzle available to us.