EVE is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), and is unique from other on-line games in that every player experiences the same game world. The premise of the game is rather like that of the old BBC Micro favourite, Elite: trade, kill pirates (or be a pirate) and upgrade your craft and equipment, all in a galaxy of several thousand stars, planets, stations and asteroid belts.
MMORPG games such as EverQuest and Star Wars Galaxies have more subscribers, but run several game worlds across their server farms, with each instance of the game world holding perhaps as many as 3,000 players.
As not everyone is in the same instance of the game, then if you are on a different server from your friends (or enemies) then you can’t meet them, and your experience is different from theirs. As EVE has one game world, it is possible to interact with every player – which has very interesting implications for economics and social interaction in such large simulation.
EVE is the first title from CCP, an Icelandic company founded by Reynir Hardarson, formerly of OZ.COM and reached its current incarnation last year. Interestingly EVE’s “high water” marks for most connected users seem to be occurring on Sundays – possibly a valuable snippet of information if any market research companies out there can decode what it means.
The MMORPG market is now becoming, not exactly crowded but, well-served with a variety of differently-themed games. Because of the time commitment such games demand and the monthly fee payable (typically from $9.99 to $14.99) users are reluctant to hope from game to game, losing carefully built-up characters and items. As broadband use expands and the games lose their somewhat nerdy image this could potentially be a huge and innovate sector of the On-line entertainment industry.