EVE Online developers CCP Games are working on a new game set within the EVE universe. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it will use blockchain technology, after CCP received $40 million (around £32.7 million) from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
The project, which is called Project Awakening, will “leverage smart-contract blockchain technology, focusing on persistence, composability and truly open third-party development to create a new relationship between virtual worlds and players.” Whatever that means.
“Since its inception, CCP Games’ vision has been to create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life,” writes CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson in the announcement. “Now, with advancements made within blockchain, we can forge a new universe deeply imbued with our expertise in player agency and autonomy, empowering players to engage in new ways.”
The blockchain, and in particular NFTs, have been a focus of video game investment for the past 12-18 months. Every announcement has thus far been met with derision, often from video game developers themselves, and many developers and publishers have since toned down their enthusiasm.
EVE Online is fantastic, fascinating, and one-of-a-kind. CCP Games, however, have a track record of trying to expand upon their hard-to-grasp MMO in foolhardy ways. In 2013 they released Dust 514, a console-only and widely criticised free-to-player shooter set within the EVE universe which closed down after three years. They tried making a shooter again when they announced Project Legion in 2014, then scrapped it. Then tried again with Project Nova, then scrapped it in 2020 after terrible feedback. They launched the (pretty cool) VR spin-off EVE: Valkyrie but gave up on VR when no one bought it (RIP Sparc). They once released a monocle cosmetic so expensive that they had to revamp their entire development process just to appease players. And it wasn’t an EVE spin-off, but should I mention World Of Darkness?
I admire the way that CCP have continued to support and expand EVE Online, both nurturing the ways in which it is weird and attempting to make it graspable for more people. I also admire their willingness to experiment on new projects publicly, even if those ideas too often feel like bandwagon chasing. The blockchain is a dumb waste of time however and it’s no surprise that the EVE Online Reddit is post after post of people dunking on it.