A little under five years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a new online game he was playing called EVE Online. A key part of his pitch was that the game was less than a year old and I should get in on the ground floor. My friend correctly anticipated the massive success that EVE would be and that it would be good to get involved as early as possible. Over the years, that decision to start playing EVE in early 2004 has afforded me a lot of opportunities, not least of all being able to contribute to EON magazine and finally become a columnist here at Massively.

Getting in on the ground floor:
Five years down the line from EVE day one, it's easy for new players or those that want to sign up to feel like they've missed the boat and can't achieve what the older players have. In the same way that my friend introduced me to EVE, it's my turn to try and convince people that they can still get in on the ground floor of something new and immense. With two major expansions coming soon, including the revolutionary "Walking in Stations" expansion, I firmly believe that right now could be the best time in five years to get in on the ground floor of the incredible on-going journey that is EVE Online.

In this article, I discuss the reasons why EVE will continue to endure for the foreseeable future and how getting involved now could be just as good as getting involved from day one.

Life cycle of an MMO:

The standard MMO life cycle shows a sharp increase in players at launch and an erratic rise for a time based on the game's popularity. This is the phase World of Warcraft is still in and it is eventually followed by player numbers slowly dropping over time as the game begins to lose appeal. Periodic expansions pull in some money and draw in new subscribers to top the player numbers up but a game's player numbers will still typically drop over time or hold relatively steady. EVE Online's life so far has shown a completely different growth strategy seen in very few other MMOs, among them Dofus, Tibia and Runescape.

EVE's subscriber numbers have steadily increased since launch, rising from a tiny subscriber base of 30,000 at the start of 2004 to over 250,000 players now in late 2008. This growth strategy is the result of the evolutionary development strategy used by the game's developers CCP. Updates to the game are released to all players for free, including two major expansions per year. As a result, the game world is constantly undergoing change and interesting new game mechanics mean players always have something new to do. This encourages the game to grow organically, accruing new subscribers over time and holding on to them.

Death of an MMO:
As players of Tabula Rasa recently discovered, an MMO failing that you've invested a lot of time and effort into is a massive disappointment. Players are now more aware than ever that they should be choosing a game based on its future potential. Although the death of any MMO is so far a very rare occurrence, people still avoid those that have a high chance of failing in the future.

In this respect, EVE Online is a rock. For five years running, CCP have proven that they are on the bleeding edge of game development and the company's success with EVE is not a fluke. Additionally, even though the company's head office is based in Iceland, CCP have managed to remain insulated from the economic crisis the country is facing as almost all of their income and costs are in US dollars and Euros. If any MMO is going to fail in the foreseeable future, it sure as heck isn't EVE Online!

Continue to part 2, where I discuss why joining EVE now could be just as good as joining it five years ago.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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