CCP’s CEO Discusses the Future of EVE Fanfest

EVE Fanfest is a gathering of EVE Online players that takes place in Reykjavik every year. During this three day event the players lay down their arms and forget about the war across the different alliances to come together for a celebration of EVE which includes numerous game related presentations and a pub crawl. Hardcore Gamer attended the fifteenth annual Fanfest and had the opportunity to sit down with CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson.

[Hardcore Gamer] EVE Online has evolved and expanded quite a bit since 2003. When the game was first in development what was your overall vision for EVE Online?

[Hilmar Veigar Pétursson] The vision we had for EVE Online was basically what it has become. Obviously the scope and longevity has exceeded expectations but we wanted to create a virtual world and here we are.

EVE is distinct from other MMOs in that it seems to have more community involvement outside of the game, like earlier today there was an EVE themed wedding held at this event. I imagine you’ve seen countless examples of fans demonstrating how EVE has impacted their lives; are there any particular instances that stuck out you would like to share?

So many things. A lot of the big wars have been extremely interesting and people have written history books about it like Andrew Groen’s Empires of EVE Online, which he is working on a second volume (the Kickstarter for that can be found here) so that’s been amazing to see how much social organization has gone into organizing a virtual intergalactic war, like how some of the early wars had involved thousands of people which was unheard of in games at that time. Now we have wars that involve tens of thousands of people that go on for years and years and years. That is rather amazing, some of the big fleet fights are standouts because they are big media moments for the game but also because they push the tactical boundaries of the game. There are many moments of Fanfest that stand out. From the first time we had Fanfest people actually came and how friendly everyone was even though there were huge rivalries in the game. We were concerned about that but everyone was so friendly when they met in person. People who seemed very angry when they posted on the forum were super nice when they came to Iceland.

That’s one of the coolest things about EVE Online though. People will have these bitter rivalries in game and they come here and it’s like “oh you destroyed my four million ISK battleship, let’s go do shots.”

It’s like killing is just a means of communication when it comes to EVE Online. It’s always been amazing how nice EVE players are, contrary to their reputation in the game.

EVE has a ton of events throughout the world every year, most of them are community organized and CCP does this event and EVE Vegas in October. Are there any plans to expand into doing more events in different locations?

So next year we are not doing a big Fanfest here in Iceland; we are taking it on the road to various different cities. I think we are doing London, Amsterdam, Australia or Russia. There may be a smaller event in Iceland but that is something we are going to try out and hopefully learn a lot from it. The player engagement will continue when Fanfest goes on tour.

On that note of player engagement, do have any particularly memorable stories of one of those instances?

There is one interaction that was quite memorable. It was at the first Fanfest where everyone was new and we didn’t really know what we were walking into and didn’t really know if anyone would come. About 300 people came which was a lot for the size of the game back then in addition to having to come to Iceland. There was this one guy who came that was in his seventies, he had been a coal miner in the UK all his life and never traveled outside of the UK before. He got a passport for Fanfest and he had been playing EVE with his son ever since it came out and there he was in the game mining and he was a retired coal miner which was kind of interesting. Him and his son came together to Fanfest for his first time traveling outside of the UK, in his seventies for a computer game in Iceland. He bought a bottle of gin, Bombay Sapphire to give to me. Interacting with them and learning about what the game meant to them and their relationship and what it meant in their life it was a very impactful moment. His son continued to come to Fanfest year after year and continued to give me a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. It was just such an interesting early moment in seeing what the game meant to people. Of course since then there have been a lot of stories and a lot of interaction over the years with people who share they have had some amazing life changing experiences in the game. Earlier in the day when the community developer was talking on stage was a great example of how the game has led a lot of people to personal growth.

It seems to transcend what video games can mean to people. It’s common for games to be used as a means of escapism, but EVE players can escape into another world with its own community. With everything that has happened with EVE over the past fifteen years, what would you like to see with it going forward?

I think we can continue the re-innovation effort with some of the core systems. Some have held up quite well for fifteen years, some need quite a bit of work. We’ve successfully done that with various aspects of the game to make them feel more modernized. I think we need to add some more different areas like we are doing with Abyssal Deadspace and continue to do the updating quality of life improvements that we are working on it. We need to contain our momentum to improve EVE Online and in the coming years we will find new ways to improve and expand, like we are doing with Nova and War of Ascension. We want to keep finding ways to keep lifting the game higher.