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The past few years Eve has had an equilibrium between people leaving and people new and/or returning to the game. Hence the ‘plateau’ mentioned above. Probably somewhere in the future this plateau will start to slope down. When this is going to happen is anyone’s guess.
People might leave for the next Big SF Game. The only thing that could be considered an Eve killer on the horizon at the moment is Star Citizen, we’ll have to see about that. Maybe some other MMO or SF game will come along and steal it’s players ! But people can play multiple games, so I seriously doubt it.
Probably the only thing that can kill Eve is Eve itself. The game has been getting a bit stale lately. The last few expansions didn’t really add much to the game, it did make it better with bugfixes and all though. There has to come a point where more people leave (or cancel their second and third account, big thing in Eve) then there are coming in. I don’t know how long CCP can get away with these minimalist ‘expansions’ before the players are really starting to get bored.
And once that happens there will be a tipping point where Eve gets a serious overhaul and Bob from Marketing decides a new, bigger playersbase that wants to spent cash in a cash shop is worth more than the current playersbase. And that’s where free to play etc.comes in.
Let’s hope it’ll take a while before we get there ;).
Other participants at Kirith’s Inner Sanctum.