EVE Online – The Best MMORPG Community?

EVE Online’s February newsletter revealed that the game was voted the best MMO community of 2009 by Ten Ton Hammer. I wasn’t surprised at all by this and I’m not going to dispute the award but I did think it would be interesting to look at it in more depth and comment on some of their, um, comments.

EVE... it does make for lovely screenshots

EVE Online... it does make for lovely screenshots

Ten Ton Hammer’s justification for determining that EVE has the best MMORPG community is based on a few things: the fact that all players exist on a single server, that the developers work closely and communicate with the players, and that it’s just plain “hard to play EVE without becoming a part of the larger community”. The author must have been tight on time or watching the word count because all of these points are pretty flimsy and lacking in depth.

Although factors like the single server and Council of Stellar Management (CSM) help, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of community from my perspective. I don’t think size matters (/giggle) and to me it makes no difference is a server encompasses 2,000 players or 200,000 players, quantity doesn’t impact quality of community. Likewise, if we judged community by forum interaction or number of fan sites and blogs, World of Warcraft would come out in leading position and well all know that would be utter rubbish.

So do I think the award is wrong? No, actually, absolutely not. I only played EVE for a couple of months but I did get a sense of something vast and exciting out there, a large player base bonded together either through comradery or backstabbing hatred. Some people banded together to help newbies, some to defend their empires, some to become rich beyond their dreams and some to just wreck havoc and bring anarchy to the Universe. And those are the thing that I look for in community: communication between players, willingness to help (or destroy, as the case may be – anything that involves interaction), a sense of kinship and fraternity, a real bond with my fellow gamers, and the ability to share in the fantasy of escapism with others.

All of those things are hard to quantify and sum up as a singular aspect though. I see it as the warm, fuzzy feeling you get in your nether regions when someone helps you out for no reason or actively engages in a conversation with you for more than just buff requests. It’s that special little feeling that makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself. Everquest had it, Everquest 2 has it, World of Warcraft doesn’t have it (or at least it’s very well hidden) and I believe that EVE Online has it too.

So, as I said, I’m not surprised by the award nor am I disputing it. In fact, I think it’s very apt. However, I did want to explore a little more behind the reasoning for it. So what do you think – does EVE Online have the best MMORPG community?

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21 Comments

  1. Personally, I think its a combination of the single server architecture combined with the type of social players that are attracted to a game where the possibilities are endless and what they do CAN matter in the game, i.e. the butterfly effect. Those players tend to be more in the game for the long run, thus tend to be more mature and invest more effort into the game. A deeper talent pool for drawing people together and creating something more than just a game.

    My opinion anyways. :)

    • Gordon says:

      I agree. The type of game that EVE is does attract players who are more interested in forming a community. Plus, you can’t just be a loner or soloer and expect to succeed without building up relationships like in something like WoW.

  2. Carson63000 says:

    I’d want to have spent a lot more time playing more different MMORPGs before I would be so bold as to say that one particular one had “the best community,” but I’ll tell you what it is about EVE’s community that made me go “wow, this is something special right here.”

    It was when I first spent some time reading the Market Discussions board on the EVE official forums. I was absolutely floored by the number of IPOs, bond issues, player-run banks, audits, escrow services, etc. going on. I have never seen anything like it in any MMORPG before or since, it’s truly unique and really made the financial side of EVE seem like a real, living, breathing world. Now that’s an exciting community of players.

    • Dustin Moore says:

      That’s amazing. I never played EVE but I didn’t realize it was this revolutionary in these many areas of the game. The financial aspects would be so cool. I love economics, money, numbers… sounds like this is my style.

      • Bootleg says:

        The economics/crafting in Eve are the best I’ve ever seen. It is awesome! There are a few baseline commodities that the game provides, but outside of that, the entire economy is player driven. Not only is crafting extremely well done… All the logistical support is well done as well… Think shipping, mercenary escorts, piracy, etc etc… CCP has done a fantastic job in creating an economic sandbox, Eve very much has a wild wild west feel.

        As for the community… In my MMO experience Eve has the best, and it would be no surprise to see it voted to be the best of all MMOs. I think the “single server” and the fact you have to establish meaningful relationships (even if it’s hateful) with other players I think is what creates some a strong community.

        In WoW, there’s no “need” to establish meaningful relationships with anybody. With a reference to Fight Club, WoW is about single serving friends.

      • Gordon says:

        Definitely recommend giving it a shot! They have a 14 day free trial I believe if you’re interested.

    • Gordon says:

      I’ve heard a lot of great things about EVE’s marketplace. I don’t have a lot of experience with it but it certainly sounds impressive!

  3. Gravity says:

    Probably is a fair assessment. WoW’s SUB-communities are pretty awesome, like maintankadin or (parts of) EJ or deathknight.info tanking sub-forum or even my pwnwear readership. But WoW as a whole does nto have a great community.

    Eve is pretty special. I really like it. I wish someone would pick up the maintenance (and update) the Hammer’s Eve guide I wrote. It needs some love.

    • Gordon says:

      I have no doubt that WoW has some great pools of community. Unfortunately on the whole, as you said, it’s pretty lacking. It’s too easy to just do your thing and not even communicate with anyone. The silence in Dungeon Finder groups is a perfect example of this.

  4. Stabs says:

    Eve – best community? It’s one hell of a good question.

    Eve is the community where you are most likely to have someone make friends with you, stay friends for months then steal all your stuff and laugh at you. Where your CEO is almost certainly planning to rob everything in the corp, even though for most it’s a plan that will never be implemented.

    But adversity brings people together. When you trust someone in Eve it really means something because that trust requires putting assets on the line. The dog-eat-dog atmosphere makes friendships and great corporations more valuable.

    Another strength of Eve is the diversity. A great tank in WoW is pretty much like all the other great tanks. In Eve people can find things to do in the sandbox that are completely unexpected and corporation culture varies a lot from one corp to another. From eco-terrorists through religious role-players through conmen through space emperors it’s a very fascinating collection of alter egos.

    All told I think best community is reasonable. Not the most trustworthy, not the nicest, but one of the least boring – perhaps that’s what “best” means in this context.

    • Gordon says:

      I think in this sense being the “best” community doesn’t necessarily mean being the nicest… otherwise I don’t think EVE would rate very highly :) Personally, I find the whole backstabbing thing to be part of the attraction of the game :)

  5. shipwreck says:

    Maybe “best players” is more apt than “best community”. I think the above poster says it well when he talks about the deception inherent to EVE’s gameplay. I like to compare it to poker: poker players are some of the best, smartest, most competitive players who are passionate about their game. Does it make them the best “community” because they are trying so hard to take one another’s money and win? I’m not so sure.

    EVE players are zealous disciples of their game and would defend to jihad-levels of fanaticism so, in that, they are a great batch of players. To me, however, community means leaning on each other, helping each other, enjoying one another’s company. Does this happen in EVE? Certainly! In my short time in EVE I was assisted by countless other players. I was also griefed and verbally abused by them as well (just a little profanity, nothing traumatic ;-P). So the open nature of the game means an open spectrum of players: carebears to griefers. There are nice people in their community but there are also people who have a very severe superiority complex because they play such a “mature” game.

    Again, does this mean they have the best community? I would say no because for every kindhearted player who will give you 100,000 ISK without thinking, there are three who will gate camp you and laugh. They are great players but they are not the makings of a great community.

  6. boatorious says:

    Trying to think of the most polite way to say this. If you play EVE, you’ll have a lot of down time to get to know the community, time you would not have if you played, say, WoW.

    • Bootleg says:

      Very interesting observation and totally accurate. I love sooo much about Eve, but I don’t play it… Anymore. I came to this realization when somebody once asked in local what my favorite part of Eve was. I thought about it for a second and said “My favorite part about Eve, is thinking about Eve”… This was kind of the moment I realized Eve wasn’t for me, I really didn’t enjoy playing Eve. I had more fun thinking about doing stuff, than actually doing it.

      Eve provided unmatched intellectual stimulation. There’s so much down time, you can’t help but “think” about how to maximize returns. WoW (my game of choice) while not nearly as deep, is just plain more fun. For me at least.

      • Gordon says:

        Hehe, yeah, I’ve heard that said before! I love the grand scale of EVE and the ‘vision’ it has. It’s pretty great being able to imagine yourself playing it :) I think it’s why the game gets away with being less fast paced than others.

    • Gordon says:

      Y’know, that’s a very good point :) I hadn’t considered that. WoW is absolutely about instant gratification and that doesn’t give any time for getting to know people.

  7. [...] writing yesterdays article, I noticed something a little odd about Ten Ton Hammer’s 2009 MMO awards (note that their [...]

  8. Ferrel says:

    I do think “single server” games help community a bit. There is no fragmentation to deal with and it also makes it terribly hard for total jackasses to hide. You might be able to get a name change but you can’t slink off to some other server. People are still going to be able to figure out who you are based on race/class/gear and if you use voice chat.

    I think that lack of escape does, at least in part, force people to behave a little better.

    • Gordon says:

      No doubt it helps although, for me, it’s not the biggest factor. I reckon the single server probably helps the most with immersion and roleplay actually because you know that you have the potential to do something which will influence the entire player base and not just a tiny portion of it.

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