EVE Online, Monocles and Microtransactions: Who Really Wrote CEO's Apology?

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EVE Online, Monocles and Microtransactions: Who Really Wrote CEO's Apology?

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A disaffected former CCP developer says CEO Hilmar Pétursson didn't write that apology. Guess who did?

Back in 2011 things were looking pretty rocky for CCP and its flagship title, EVE Online. Fans were blowing up, raging on the forums and in-game over its new microtransactions policy, which introduced incredibly expensive vanity items into the game. Chief among these was the infamous $70 monocle, or 'Looking Glass Ocular Implant,' which came to symbolize the whole failed strategy. In November 2011 CEO Hilmar Pétursson went so far as to issue a heartfelt apology for the whole mess, an apology which at the time was accepted as sincerely meant.

"He's not just sorry, he's really sorry, and he spells out exactly why without ever passing the buck," wrote Andy Chalk when the apology was issued. Now, according to former CCP developer Nick Blood, it'd seem that apology might not have come from Pétursson at all. Blood, speaking on wider issues concerning the development and collapse of White Wolf's World of Darkness MMO, alleges that the apology was actually composed by the fiction team.

"He had members of our storyline team - a group responsible for writing in-game content and fiction - put it together," says Blood. "He was either so out of touch, so arrogant, or perhaps both, that he couldn't find the words to say himself. They bailed him out big time."

Blood describes a World of Darkness development process for which the world dysfunctional seems almost complimentary; it failed again and again, returning to alpha build three times and scrapping it three times, no effective management, and continual poaching of the World of Darkness team to bail out EVE. The result, of course, was project death.

Blood no longer works in gaming. "I left voluntarily, out of disappointment at what the industry is increasingly becoming."

If you're interested in what CEO Pétursson said - or perhaps didn't say - at the time, it can be found here.

Source: Guardian

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Meh, I would sort of expect the creative team to be involved at some point. Even if the CEO wrote it out, he'd want to check it over with people who have good english skills to make sure that his point was clear and he hadn't accidentally said anything that would anger players later. It's not a question of not being sorry (he changed what he was doing after all), but communicating clearly and effectively is a legitimate skill and not everyone has it, even if they think they do.

I mean this is the world where everything our politicians say is written by a PR team and I assume it's the case for all the big corporations with a PR branch. This doesn't exactly rock my world.

EVE development changed direction and focused on what the players wanted. Everyone is really happy with what CCP did to change. That was what was important, the letter was just conveying to people that this is what they were going to do now.

Err welcome to the real world. Guess what most public statements are not written by CEO's of companies. They are drafted by other people on the behalf of the CEO and that person signs off on the statement before its released.

captcha

how quaint

To echo what's already been said - So what if someone else put the words to the page? He signed his name off against it, meaning that he stood by the statement. Which means the statement was honest, even if someone else told him what to say.

Also, speaking as someone who has never played EVE and realises $70 is far too much... I have to say, that ocular implant does look very cool.

BrotherRool:
Meh, I would sort of expect the creative team to be involved at some point. Even if the CEO wrote it out, he'd want to check it over with people who have good english skills to make sure that his point was clear and he hadn't accidentally said anything that would anger players later. It's not a question of not being sorry (he changed what he was doing after all), but communicating clearly and effectively is a legitimate skill and not everyone has it, even if they think they do.

I mean this is the world where everything our politicians say is written by a PR team and I assume it's the case for all the big corporations with a PR branch. This doesn't exactly rock my world.

EVE development changed direction and focused on what the players wanted. Everyone is really happy with what CCP did to change. That was what was important, the letter was just conveying to people that this is what they were going to do now.

I agree with this. It is sad what happened to World of Darkness but at the same time it was sort of necessary to keep EVE alive.

Dear cynics rolling their eyes. Just because it's more or less common doesn't make it right or even acceptable.

RealRT:
Dear cynics rolling their eyes. Just because it's more or less common doesn't make it right or even acceptable.

Oh for god sake CEO's do not know how to do everything in a business. If there is lag on the servers due to problems with the netcode, you don't expect the CEO to write the fixes himself, he goes to the coders, fix the netcode. If you want a letter to apologises, you get the PR department to draft it, its their job to draft things. Companies employ specialists for a reason and part of running a company is delegating tasks to the proper specialist.

Unless you hear a big pants official utter something really dumb somebody else probably wrote his speech, especially when it's critical for PR... cloak and daggers is how business works now and honesty just isn't in the budget.

Really this is a thing? I mean hey, you pay a team of writers and pr guys, Why aren't you going to use them. Oh and on the fact of not really feeling sorry, ya It's hard to feel sorry when at the end of the day, there are still people giving you 70 dollars for an in game vanity item.

It's like expecting capcom to really "feel sorry" for getting busted with on disc dlc. They just said fine they'll make you download the DLC then.

Sorry, I was going to comment on the main subject of the article, but I got distracted by the name "Nick Blood". I can't decide if that name is awesome, or trying too hard.

Having worked for a gaming company that produced a very famous browser MMO, I remember the times when the owner / lead programmer or his sibling (also a coder on the game) posted of their own accord on the forums it was completely RED ALERT DISASTER MODE ENGAGE for the customer relations department. Those guys were so socially retarded they probably had doctor's notes for it... so, I know for a fact it's often best left to another person / people to write such statements because if left to the guy in charge to pen himself, it'll only make things worse.

Umm... welcome to 3 years ago? Also, ot exactly a newsflash that CEOs don't personally write PR stuff, especially if you have a writing team as good as EVE Online did. But, it's always fun seeing EVE in the news I suppose.

One of the things that really pissed off a lot of us was the "Less of what they (players) say, more of what they do".

When this apology was issued many, myself included, echoed that sentiment right back at CCP. True to the CCP we have known for so long now, they kept their word. They made us a promise and have kept to it so personally I could care less who wrote the apology, they spoke and they delivered.

Point 1:) Just because something happens all the time, that doesn't make it okay. This CEO guy wanted people to think he was taking responsibility and issuing a heartfelt personal apology, yet he had someone else do the hard part for him. That ain't classy. You don't make other people apologize for you when you screw up.

Point 2:) I read that Guardian article. I'd sure love to know who that one "psssh!" manager was. The one who was all rambling buzzwords and whatnot.

Point 3:) I think anyone who knew White Wolf well enough from before CCP came along was not surprised by how any of this turned out.

--Morology!

Ace Morologist:
Point 1:) Just because something happens all the time, that doesn't make it okay. This CEO guy wanted people to think he was taking responsibility and issuing a heartfelt personal apology, yet he had someone else do the hard part for him. That ain't classy. You don't make other people apologize for you when you screw up.

You really think the important and essential part of an apology is the wording used?

The hard part isn't which words to say (or write in this case), it's actually saying them.

It's making a public blog post for the entire world to see that says your company was wrong and that you, as CEO of that company, was wrong.

Making other people apologize for him would've meant a public blog post alleging none of it was his fault, that it was someone else's fault.

CyborgGinger:
Having worked for a gaming company that produced a very famous browser MMO, I remember the times when the owner / lead programmer or his sibling (also a coder on the game) posted of their own accord on the forums it was completely RED ALERT DISASTER MODE ENGAGE for the customer relations department. Those guys were so socially retarded they probably had doctor's notes for it... so, I know for a fact it's often best left to another person / people to write such statements because if left to the guy in charge to pen himself, it'll only make things worse.

I believe you.

However, isn't that just an incredibly sad thing in itself? That those who are "in charge" of so many people are incapable of any social understanding with people in general?
The ones responsible for the whole organisation should at least have some empathy and knowledge about the parts of the same organisation imo.

We've come so far that we find these kinds of things normal. Screw that, they're not.

What is this? Actual honest to god Journalism in the games industry? If you read the article the big thrust of it is not about the PR department writing his apology (that seems like a minor point) it's about an insider telling his story about the collapse of a game. Actual journalism is so rare here id begun to forget when it looks like when someone has a source and lays out fresh information they have sought out. No "Top 8 things to do with your butt", no buzz feed style "12 cats that will change your life" and no "Reasons to be pumped for mega-publisher micro transaction vehicle" an actual story from an actual journalist.

I hope you're taking notes.

CyborgGinger:
Having worked for a gaming company that produced a very famous browser MMO, I remember the times when the owner / lead programmer or his sibling (also a coder on the game) posted of their own accord on the forums it was completely RED ALERT DISASTER MODE ENGAGE for the customer relations department. Those guys were so socially retarded they probably had doctor's notes for it... so, I know for a fact it's often best left to another person / people to write such statements because if left to the guy in charge to pen himself, it'll only make things worse.

You know, I might be wrong, and In fact, probably I'm very wrong, but that sounds like a certain free to play Fantasy-Based RPG that everyone's played once.

Nice to see the truth finally leaking out. The apology that never was. If you do not mean the words you are saying, then you are not apologizing, just lying (again). It may have been three years ago, but now we know him for what he is and will treat anything else he says accordingly. If he suddenly showed up at Bethesda Houston and promised to fix the Elder Scrolls mess, we would not have to worry about paying any attention.

4Aces:
Nice to see the truth finally leaking out. The apology that never was. If you do not mean the words you are saying, then you are not apologizing, just lying (again). It may have been three years ago, but now we know him for what he is and will treat anything else he says accordingly. If he suddenly showed up at Bethesda Houston and promised to fix the Elder Scrolls mess, we would not have to worry about paying any attention.

What are you even rambling on about?
Someone else wrote the letter, so what?
He still signed off on it, they still changed their ways. That is all that matters.
And what do Bethesda and ESO have to do with anything here?

Just another sign that you can always delegate that pesky human/customer relationship business to a team of people who might sort of care before retiring to your gigantic bed of $100 dollar bills.

Not a part of EVE but I know I'd be insulted to learn that an apology wasn't written by the man who's name it is attributed to. A speech is kind of different because we get to watch their face and hear in their voice whether or not they believe what they are reading but just throwing something on a website and claiming it is yours works on a basis of trust.

Kudos to whoever tracked down Nick Blood.

He told the fiction guys to write some spin and had PR put his name on it.

It';s a big slap in the face to all the eve players who've been bragging for all these years how they got him to 'apologize' for incarna when they bluntly did no such thing.

Fdzzaigl:

CyborgGinger:
Having worked for a gaming company that produced a very famous browser MMO, I remember the times when the owner / lead programmer or his sibling (also a coder on the game) posted of their own accord on the forums it was completely RED ALERT DISASTER MODE ENGAGE for the customer relations department. Those guys were so socially retarded they probably had doctor's notes for it... so, I know for a fact it's often best left to another person / people to write such statements because if left to the guy in charge to pen himself, it'll only make things worse.

I believe you.

However, isn't that just an incredibly sad thing in itself? That those who are "in charge" of so many people are incapable of any social understanding with people in general?
The ones responsible for the whole organisation should at least have some empathy and knowledge about the parts of the same organisation imo.

We've come so far that we find these kinds of things normal. Screw that, they're not.

Honestly, the reason why people have PR departments and such write these letters is that they will be pulled apart and analyzed to the point of finding some fault. So they have professionals write or review anything that is posted externally for they don't want to have the issues with social media and being called liars or shown how their apology is wrong because they got one fact slightly different then the public sees it. The internet is full of statements that have been twisted because of how people wanted to view those statements, look at EA when they made their comment about "every game will have a social aspect" it instantly becomes "every game will have multiplayer".

Bigwigs delegating PR to PR people? Why, that's just outrageous!

You know what, I'm in a bad enough mood to say I'm happy this "epiphany" happened. Because anyone who thinks they actually forced him into submission, deserves to have their egos deflated.

4Aces:
Nice to see the truth finally leaking out. The apology that never was. If you do not mean the words you are saying, then you are not apologizing, just lying (again).

Fancy CEO suit...7.500€
Fancy CEO car...75.000€
Having your PR department say what people want to hear, then laughing in their faces when they realize you didn't mean it...priceless.

Then again, what does it matter? CCP changed their ways in the direction the playerbase wanted them to be changed in. But who cares, our fragile egos are hurt because that self-absorbed twas wasn't genuinely remorseful...and that's terrible.

WEll, for even more entertainment, CCP's ISD mods official line is that it's all rumors and slanderous attacks against CCP staff.

Vegosiux:
Bigwigs delegating PR to PR people? Why, that's just outrageous!

Except it wasn't the PR people - it was the people responsible for writing the in-game fiction and lore.

Blackbird71:

Vegosiux:
Bigwigs delegating PR to PR people? Why, that's just outrageous!

Except it wasn't the PR people - it was the people responsible for writing the in-game fiction and lore.

Oh, how silly of me to overlook that[1]. Right well, then it was fiction-writers to whip up something sounding like heartfelt apology. Still nothing surprising or anything...

[1] Not sarcasm.

Not surprising in the least. EVE's developers have their collective heads shoved so far up their own backsides that they're even driving away some of their biggest supporters. They've fostered a community so inbred and toxic that the CEO being unable to craft something resembling an apology is practically a given.

Oh sweet Jesus, the man that employs writers used said writes to WRITE SOMETHING. STOP THE GODDAMN PRESSES.

I'm not sure if I should be laughing or crying (or both) at this Nick Blood fellow and his big 'reveal'. Next he'll probably reveal that the CEO had the catering department whip up a big cake. Outrageous - using people you hired for the exact task they were hired for. This guy is bitter about something; very bitter. And he needs to get over it.

Wow, absolutely crazy news! Next thing you know you'll be telling us politicians use speech writers.

Be right back, hiring someone to apologize to everyone I might have wronged in the past. Sure, I don't mean it, but hey, that's what those people are hired to do.

They did change their ways, which is a good thing and shows that the company won't back down on their promises. But that doesn't change the fact that the CEO has basically said "I don't care enough about the fans, so I'll just have my writers write the apology to shut them up." If it was a PR department, I'd understand. But this was taking scriptwriters, PEOPLE WHO DEAL IN FICTIONAL STORIES, to write an apology for him. That, I'd say, is a fairly big deal.

Ace Morologist:
Point 1:) Just because something happens all the time, that doesn't make it okay. This CEO guy wanted people to think he was taking responsibility and issuing a heartfelt personal apology, yet he had someone else do the hard part for him. That ain't classy. You don't make other people apologize for you when you screw up.

Or, if you aren't a particularly effective communicator, you are allowed to get other people to help you prepare a statement so that you get across what you really want to say.

Basically the fallout of this is that people who play EVE don't care because this is REALLY old news at this point and we're getting cool new Mordu's Legion ships, and some much-needed Caldari redesigns (no love for the Osprey yet tho), and because we all realize how strangely EVE-like this whole situation is. People who don't play EVE will be all like "OH NOES THE CEO OF A COMPANY WHOSE GAME I DON'T PLAY LIED!!", and CCP won't care because those people don't play the game.

So, a disgruntled ex-employee claims to know something "bad" about his ex-employer? Somehow I don't think that I'm really inclined to believe him by his word alone...

Yeah...that doesn't bother me. You have PR in a company for a reason. Even if someone else wrote it it doesn't mean he doesn't actually feel that way. If he had it doesn't mean he believes it just means he's a good bullshitter. Some people are just better at getting the proper words on paper without misunderstanding than others and if CEO you want the best wording possible because its going to get scrutinised.

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