Eve Online developer CCP Games has been acquired by Pearl Abyss, and internet spaceship nerds are freaking out about it.
According to VentureBeat, the deal was worth $425 million and will close sometime in early October. The terms of the deal do disclose that CCP must meet certain financial goals in terms of revenue, but we don’t know much beyond that. And it’s that uncertainty which has a vocal element of the EVE Online community concerned. Reading the general reaction to this immediately brings out alarmism over “Pay-to-Win” mechanics being introduced to EVE Online, as well as fears over CCP being pushed to prioritize future projects, especially those on mobile devices, over the core EVE experience. And given that PA has a certain sour reputation among many gamers for the manner in which they’ve handled Black Desert Online, these fears may end up being justified. Only time will tell exactly what happens though.
Personally, the requirement to maintain financial viability post-buyout is pretty standard, and that any investor or buyer would expect of a new venture. I don’t think the stipulation of maintaining that is too much to ask, nor do I think it spells certain doom for CCP. I’ll be honest, I haven’t played BDO in a good long while, so I’m not as well-versed in the drama that’s been stirred up by P2W or other similar mechanics in that game. But I don’t really think they’re dumb enough to ruin EVE with copious amounts of gameplay-affecting MTXs. Will they introduce some new MTXs? Probably. But I would rather wait and see what happens over the next few months before I lose all hope.
From a business perspective, mergers and acquisitions don’t really have a set path, at least in terms of their outcome. Hopefully, CCP will be allowed to maintain day-to-day independence while Pearly Abyss adjust things to their liking. This means that over the next few months we will see some shifts in staffing and various divisions at the developer, but I doubt we’ll see any major culls directly targeted at EVE Online. As far as I can see, PA want to maintain long-term profit in a niche product, and the best way to do that with EVE seems to be small adjustments to streamline and improve the products the company offers.
It’s still possible that CCP will get gutted for technology and talent over the longer term, but that most likely won’t happen soon, if at all. CCP has earned some level of profit for the last few years, and the new owners will only want to improve upon that.
Since the closure of two studios and the abandoning of VR development, CCP has seemingly been on uneasy footing, if you believe the alarmism that is. It’s hard to say exactly what’s really going on behind-the-scenes though. The transition to NetEase for EVE Online in China may have been just another of the many shifts happening at the Icelandic developer. It’s probably a good thing overall that CCP now has more firm financial backing and can focus heavily on their flagship product, but the fears over brain drain and gameplay-compromising design choices are likely to remain regardless.