Thursday, April 22, 2010

EVE Blog Banter 17: The Ladies of New Eden

The EVE blog banter is a great way to test the pulse of the blogging community on a variety of issues. In previous incarnations the banter was one of the items I worked hard to write for regularly. It's hosted by Crazy Kinux, and the latest discusses women and EVE.
Crazy Kinux is... one of those who believes that, though the game should not be changed to specifically go after that part of the gaming population, EVE Online would greatly benefit if somehow the balance the 2 genders roaming New Eden would lean towards an equilibrium. So I ask...
What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?

I think EVE suffers overall from a limited, focused playerbase. Let's face it MMOs in general target specific audiences, and although there are women in those audiences (I have gamed with women all the way back to junior high D&D), they are not as prevalent as men. What could CCP do? Well, to begin with let's look at the overall marketing strategy of EVE:
"It's your destiny - shape it as you will"

While that sounds good, it's not a clear message to sell the game to anyone, let alone women who aren't already MMO gamers. The excellent trailer created a while ago called "The Butterfly Effect" is the closest thing to a marketing piece that might, almost, appeal to a potential lady of New Eden. Why? Because women are, by and large, social creatures. I've been married 7 years and with my wife for almost 11, and one thing I see from her, the people we know, and the people we meet, is that in general, (and yes, I'm generalizng) women would look at the marketing campaign for EVE Online and say, "bleh, spaceships. Why would I want to do that?"

In reality, EVE doesn't need to change for women to play, although they may be more prone to emoragequit when they suffer the inevitable suicide gank or losec gatecamp. EVE offers everything that can appeal to women - it's a social environment (text chat, voice chat, interactions) and there are aspects of EVE that don't consume your every waking moment (various industry roles, anyone?), and there are competitive aspects to EVE (PvP, Market Gaming) that appeal to those who are more competitive. The problem is the message, and the venue. I don't see EVE ads when I'm shopping for flowers or anniversary gifts - only on my tech-geek sites. I know online advertising is targeted, but they need to reach beyond the target audience.

How does CCP market something so deep, so broad? With the easiest, broadest message: "It's your destiny - shape it as you will." If they were serious about expanding the playerbase to include women, they would need to market more about EVE than Sov warfare and large fleet battles, even though that's the endgame. Perhaps a campaign that focuses on the industrial side of EVE, especially with Tyrannis on the horizon, is the appropriate angle. EVE isn't for everyone, but right now, CCP is only marketing it to the fans. It's like telling a baseball fan how great it is to see a game in Fenway Park. They already get it - they aren't the folks you really need to market to (although you can't ignore them). A side benefit of marketing the other aspects of EVE? You would get more than just women - you would get those folks who are at best fringe fans of space/scifi - and introduce them to the grand, social world that is New Eden.

Other participants in the banter:

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