No other MMO in today’s gaming industry has a more storied, player-driven history than EVE Online. One might argue the legends of “World Firsts!” guilds in WoW can give EVE a run for its money, but simply no other game today can compete with the player-driven and player-created drama that unfolds daily in New Eden. From political controversies to back stabbings and alliance betrayals, the stories of capsuleers in New Eden are the lore many gamers love to learn about.
However, actually plunging into EVE Online isn’t as easy as simply reading about it on MMORPG.com or another game news site. Additionally, it might be hard to understand what’s going on if you hop into your first ship and venture into the vast darkness of space.
One of the ways developers interact with new players nowadays is through streaming and influencers. Think about it: when Apex Legends first launched, we heard about it thanks to a massive influx of influencers and streamers talking about it the day before. Streamers showcase new games oftentimes long before even press get their hands on for reviews. Streaming is an integral part of gaming culture nowadays, yet the world's most complex and interesting gaming universe seems all but absent from your marquee streamers in the world.
Many might say this is due to the complex nature of EVE Online. It’s a game built on an engine that feels more like sifting through spreadsheets sometimes than actually playing a game (though personally, I like spreadsheets, so this isn’t a knock from me). Opening up the player experience is one way CCP sees growing the new playerbase - and streamer community - for years to come.
“Working on the new player experience, which needs to happen continuously evolve because EVE is always changing, is a major focus for us,” Paul Elsy, also known as CCP Falcon, EVE Online’s Community Manager told me back in March at EVEsterdam. “Big part of that is putting content in people’s hands. Things like The Agency, the activity tracker, fleet finder - that kind of stuff.”
Paul essentially described a “one-stop-shop,” where players can go and find things to do instead of the old formula where new players had to seek out the community to find activities to keep themselves engaged.
Recently though, CCP has put more of a focus on it’s streaming community, specifically Streamfleet, a grassroots group of EVE players who promote and showcase the top streamers in New Eden. This is something Paul himself noted in our conversation, and he fully recognizes the value this community brings to the game.
“Streamfleet is a fantastic group that have sprouted up, and they’ve got like more than 140 streamers they’re actively working with. That provides us with an unbelievable amount of content, we’re constantly hosting them on our Twitch channel.”
However, EVE Online has not been an easy game to stream, as noted previously. During my Extra Life 2018 stream, I was joined by Lee Yancy, writer for Kotaku and also a massive EVE player. We played EVE for about two hours, and the most common comment I received was how boring it was to watch us travel. Yet jumping from system to system is a large part of EVE Online. The travel aspect isn’t even part of the equation in Paul’s mind - the sheer volume of things to do might keep someone from streaming their New Eden adventures.
“EVE is a notoriously difficult game to stream. There is a lot going on. You’ve got module management, chat windows; if you’re hacking and scanning at the same time you’ve got to be watching what other people are doing as well. It can be very, very intense to watch what’s going on.”
Ms. Moses, one of the main capsuleers behind Streamfleet seems to disagree - the idea that EVE is difficult to stream doesn’t register with her or many of the players in Streamfleet.
“EVE is actually a very easy game to stream,” Ms Moses told me via an interview over Discord. “It is. We tend to find that EVE is split into two communities. You’ve got the people who don’t play EVE who are already established streamers that want to get into it and that has its own challenges. You also have the ones who have played the game for six, twelves months - we’re not talking veterans here - who decide they want to go on streaming. Just give it a go - it’s not terribly difficult.”
To Ms Moses and many of the veterans in Streamfleet, the community is trying to take the mystery out of streaming EVE. It’s about removing that mental barrier that EVE Online is a hard game to stream at all.
“We're just taking the mystery away of how to get going and how to get doing. So that side I think is relatively easy, the other side, whole different ball game: Eve is a very, very hard game to play.”
Streamfleet Founder Raiden also mentioned how Streamfleet is there not only to give streamers a platform for people to find their content, but also support potential streamers who want to join in as well.
“'Last year in Vegas we did a presentation on "Why Stream?" And we want to give a course that streaming EVE isn't difficult. It's not hard. The game is hard, yes, but it's worth climbing that skill cliff. It really is. But we gave this presentation and there was a young lad sitting there watching and he approached us afterwards and talked to us about his streaming. He said he really wanted to try it but he was terrified of it because of how it is so difficult, and we spoke about how easy it is.
“But he approached us and through talking with us and thinking about it and just taking the plunge, he is absolutely killing it. He says it many times, he thanks us literally every stream, which is really funny, but it is actually him doing it. But I think it's the belief that we gave him. I don't want to blow our own trumpet on this because he's the streamer, he has the talent, but it's just opening that door for him and saying, "Go on, you'll be fine." You know when you're teaching a kid to ride a bike, and he is flying.”
Streamfleet as a community really helps not only promote the streaming community as a whole EVE Online, but they have also started to take a more active role at some of the major EVE Online events throughout the year. This year, Streamfleet will be represented in some capacity at every EVE World Tour event on the calendar, a feat in its own going from helping with two events the previous year to seven total in 2019.
As Paul mentioned, CCP is actively stepping up it’s game with engaging streamers and the community through video and streaming content, something Streamfleet is cognizantly aware of as well.
“CCP have really understood now how streaming can help retain players, interest new players, and even teach new players,” Raiden mentioned. “There's a lot of our streamers who, every so often, start a brand new account - a free to play account - and they'll stream from there. So people can see what it's like. They can learn with them, even though they know the game, they will take them through those steps and a lot of them generally do New Player Experience things on the CCP channel, which is promoted.
“It does give people a first time look at what EVE is with someone that does know the game but can also teach how to play it. And a lot of those streamers are very, very good at looking after and answering questions for new players.
“Take Rushlock for example, one of the best EVE streamers that there is. He is so open to helping new players. You can ask him anything at anytime, he'll stop what he's doing, and he'll find the answer for you if he doesn't know it. Chance of him not knowing is very small, but he will help people, and all of our streamers, I believe, are new bros. We call them new bros, non-gender specific, I suppose, the bro side of it. New bean, you could say, I suppose. All of our streamers are generally new player friendly, they really are, and they'll answer any question, and they'll even fly to help someone out if they need to.”
The Streamfleet community doesn’t just help streamers learn how to stream EVE Online, but also encourages them to continue streaming even when the going gets tough. Any moment in EVE Online could end in a quick Gank or some catastrophe, and for those moments to happen continuously is enough to drive anyone to quit a game.
“We have a streamer at the moment who is getting ganked a lot by Goonswarm and is on the verge of wanting to give up,” Ms Moses told us. “And yet actually all the streamers came into her channel and were helping and encouraging her. It's the community itself that makes the difference. Absolutely having that massive community support behind you really makes a difference. Of course, the streamer on the other hand has to be receptive to it, and there's always going to be streamers that aren't, but there are some huge name streamers out there that openly acknowledge that they wish that they can play EVE more.”
It’s interesting to see that while many major games have massive names streaming it, EVE Online’s streaming community feels contained within your average New Eden denizens. You have your celebrities, like Manic Velocity, Killahbee, and others, but it feels contained to the people who are the most passionate about New Eden itself, and not those streaming for a quick buck. Groups like Streamfleet perfectly represent and showcase that passion as well.
“So where we've seen new streamers coming on board who are new to playing Eve,” explained Ms Moses. “In the community we have these streamer liaison people whose main role in the community is to work with all the streamers and to help them through, and we're always monitoring on Twitch. Who's new? Have we seen this person before? And if we see a new person coming up on EVE Online, the streamer liaisons get in there. They get in their Twitch chat, and they're helping them, and they're guiding them, and it could be... they might throw some ISK at them in game. They might give them a ship, or they might fly with them, or they might fleet with them. We have a couple of that will always do this.”
Streamfleet’s Discord channel is also a great resource for players who are looking to learn more about streaming EVE Online but don’t quite know how to go about doing it.
According to Raiden: “When you’re in the Streamfleet Discord, you can ask any questions of anybody and we will do our best to help you or find the answer for you, no matter how difficult it is.”
Raiden also described a mentor program which has older streamers help the newer ones get established and how to grow not just their audience but their brand as a whole as well.
Streamfleet isn’t going anywhere, and for EVE Online that’s a very good thing. For New Eden to have such ambassadors willing to help and grow not only the streaming community, but also the community just playing EVE Online is a real asset not only for those entrenched in the stories of New Eden’s capsuleers, but anyone looking to hop in headfirst, ready to start their own journey - and showcase it to the world.
“The public Discord is open to anybody,” Ms Moses said with a smile. “Anybody who's thinking of streaming can jump in and just go, "Look, I've been having these thoughts, what do you think?" And we'll just sit and have a chat, whether be it through text or on comped, whatever. We're available.”