This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss EVE Valkyrie coming to PS4 and what it might mean for CCP’s product line-up.
Note: Apparently my last entry did not post when I thought, so I’ve fixed that. You may want to read that one before this as they are related.
The past few days have been interesting for CCP-watching as a couple of major announcements have happened, one intentional and the other less so. Let’s start with the breaking news, I was saw this on Facebook today.
EVE Valkyrie, only just announced as an Occulus Rift Exclusive launch title, is also coming to the PS4 on Sony’s newly unveiled ‘Project Morpheus’ VR headset.
I am only slightly surprised, as this explains (finally) why at his EVE Vegas Keynote last year CCP’s marketing head-honcho David Reid went out of his way to point out that CP had not confirmed the platform for Valkyrie (PC or console) or even that it would be on the Occulus Rift. That was met with a resounding ‘WTF’ at the time from EVE players as it was widely assumed that Valkyrie would be on PC and the Rift. At the hastily-organised London meet CCP ran a few weeks ago I put this point to the people in the queue for Valkyrie and was met with the same response; of course it will be on PC! The next-gen consoles probably can’t even run the Rift!
Turns out Sony don’t plan on needing Occulus. Who would have guessed. 😉 So I’m not exactly shocked to hear about this. While Valkyrie may be a Rift-exclusive launch title on PC, CCP are at the same time taking their property to a different platform entirely. I have wonder what Occulus think of that if they weren’t aware of it already! But from CCP’s perspective, this seems a very good move. While EVE-Online and Dust514 are long-term investments for CCP, Valkyrie has been an unexpected opportunity that wasn’t a factor in any of their plans as little as 18months ago. It is a game being developed initially and primarily as a stand-alone product that they hope to integrate into the wider EVE-Universe later on. In the short to medium term however it is a product they want to bring to market and capitalize on ASAP. Having it on two platforms significantly improves their chances of a big pay day.
The other thing that this announcement does is show CCP’s interest in doubling-down on their relationship with Sony. As we known that CCP hope to someday integrate Valkyrie with EVE-Online and Dust514, going with Sony makes the job easier than working with another party. It also hints quite strongly I think that CCP will be looking to take Dust514 over to the PS4 at some point (which was always likely I felt). Probably not for some time yet, but one day. This will give them three inter-connected games spanning three platforms (for as long as PS3 support lasts) with Valkyrie running on two of them. Maybe once CCP have Dust514 ported over to PS4 and its x86 architecture we will see a PC release. And maybe when they eventually retire PS3 support the whole thing will get a major graphics engine overhaul as EVE dis back in the Trinity expansion. Just don’t hold your breath for it! 😉
Now let’s shuffle over to the other piece of news. I saw over on Jester’s Trek that CCP’s latest financial report is out and causing a stir. Despite having a pretty good year (rising numbers of EVE subs, Dust514 is an actual thing people are spending money on) and briging in about $10million more in 2013 than they did in 2012, CCP managed to make a loss of $21 million. CCP are normally and consistently a modestly profitable company, so a loss of this size is causing a lot of surprise. The cause of it is apparently that CCP have ‘derecognised’ a large chunk of their research & development assets to the tune of $21.4 million.
Jester explains this stuff in his blog post but essentially CCP have said that a large chunk of the code they have invested in developing is no longer expected to result in any foreseeable financial benefit and is being dropped as a going concern. This is almost certainly the code that CCP invested heavily in for a long time to produce Incarna. That project was dropped from active development well over two years ago now and is not expected to return to EVE’s development road map any time soon, as such it is now a failed investment. What this means for World Of Darkness (CCP’s long-delayed Vampire MMO) is less clear and very likely the subject that Jester refers to CCP not talking about.
Back in December there was a small announcement by CCP that their design for WoD had been evaluated and altered, along with fifteen jobs lost taking the WoD development team down to around fifty people. It may be that CCP have again dumped a large chunk of the code they were working on as they moved in this new direction. I still think that WoD will happen and don’t think that this means the game is being cancelled. It remains stuck in development hell though. CCP really do need to make headway on this game at some point in the not so distant future before we all start calling it World of Duke Nukem. 😛
In the meanwhile, the company seems strong and healthy enough to suck it up and carry on regardless. EVE is continuing to stand the test of time and growing, Dust514 is becoming a stronger product as we approach Uprising 1.8 (and is I think performing better than many critics like to claim, although this is not difficult!) and Valkyrie promises a nice windfall either later this year or sometime in 2015.
It looks like CCP are in a promising position today, even if it is a different one than predicted back in early 2011. $21 million may be a big number, but it might also be marking the end of a troubled time in CCP’s past as they stride (strut?) confidently into the future.