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CCP's Sean Decker and Hilmar Petursson on the future of EVE, DUST 514, EVE-VR, and mobile gaming


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Earlier today, CCP Games announced that industry veteran Sean Decker is coming on board as Senior Vice President of Product Development. Sean's laundry-list of industry experience includes a recent 12-year stint at EA, where he headed up the Play4Free division. This has naturally led to some trepidation within the EVE Online community, which has been extremely wary of free-to-play and microtransaction-based business practices since the Monoclegate scandal in 2011.

I caught up with Sean Decker and CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson last night to get the low-down on Sean's role, how he will influence EVE and CCP's other products, and what the future has in store for DUST 514 and EVE-VR. Sean is to be the head of product development across all of CCP's games, not just the free-to-play titles, but I wouldn't worry about EVE going free to play any time soon. "I don't think [free-to-play] is the be all and end all business model," Sean told me, adding that he understands that the subscription model better fits some games.

Read on for more information on the future of EVE Online, DUST 514, EVE-VR, and CCP's first foray into mobile gaming.

How will this affect EVE and DUST 514?

Up until now, the responsibility for product development and deciding what direction to take with CCP's growing list of games has fallen to CEO Hilmar himself. With so many games and other items now produced by the studio and interesting connections like the EVE-DUST link, Hilmar felt that a dedicated person was needed solely to handle product development. "There are a lot of opportunities in connecting those experiences," he told me. "Having someone dedicated to that will allow us to take advantage of those opportunities."

"There are a lot of opportunities in connecting those experiences, and having someone dedicated to that will allow us to take advantage of those opportunities."

During our chat, Hilmar assured me that the plan for EVE is still the same plan that was discussed at Fanfest and that fans really latched onto. He promised that nobody will be "making any big kneejerk changes to EVE" and that CCP as a company won't forget the lessons it has learned over the past few years. CCP is currently looking at options that let players "customise the game experience" without upsetting game balance. Options like ship paintjobs are still on the table, but Hilmar explained that the focus right now is on more ideas along the same lines as the dual character training option recently released in EVE's Odyssey expansion.

When pressed about DUST 514 updates, Hilmar revealed that the game is now on a strict monthly iterative development cycle for the next quarter. "We're working on a monthly iteration cycle," he told me. "The first update is coming tomorrow; we're very excited for that." One of Sean's responsibilities as VP of product development will be to figure out what developers should work on in the next cycle based on community feedback. CCP has never had to deal with the sheer volume of players that free-to-play games attract, and Sean's experience on the Play4Free titles is sure to come in handy here.

CCP's Sean Decker and Hilmar Petursson on the future of EVE, DUST 514, EVR, and mobile gaming
EVE-VR and mobile gaming

This year's EVE Online Fanfest included the reveal of a brand-new virtual reality dogfighter for the Oculus Rift named EVE-VR, which fans went absolutely nuts over. When asked whether this will be turned into a retail product, Hilmar confirmed that it will be one of the games under Sean's new remit, but he clarified, "Right now there are no specific plans." He added an optimistic note that CCP "took [EVE-VR] to Fanfest and E3 and the world is screaming for it."

Hilmar went on to reveal that CCP's plans to infiltrate the wide world of mobile gaming are well underway. Former EVE producer Jon Lander has taken on the task of managing the company's mobile offerings, and this year will be mostly spent preparing for next year's full-scale app development. The first apps to be released will be "cohort apps to the EVE universe," explained Hilmar, describing them as companion apps to enhance the game experience. The team will use this to get experience in mobile development, and then will later go on to work on "standalone mobile experiences."

When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!

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