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EVE Online tops half a million users as it celebrates its 10th birthday

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It’s hard not to look at CCP Games decade-running MMO EVE Online and not think of just one word: Conquest. CCP has never been in the same business as Activision Blizzard or Electronic Arts. EVE Online isn’t World of Warcraft and it’s not Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s not even competing with Guild Wars. EVE Online is something else, something singular. According to the Museum of Modern Art, it’s one of video games’ defining artistic statements. For the 500,000 people playing the game though, it’s about building, taming, and even conquering a fully realized digital universe.

CCP Games announced on Thursday morning that its game passed the 500,000 player milestone just in time for the game’s tenth birthday. “Ten years after release, it is incredibly inspiring that, through a lot of hard work from our EVE Online team, we are crossing the half-million subscriber mark,” said CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, “For me, this is a true testament that EVE can live on forever, as long as we do right by her. We have not come to this point alone; millions of players have helped push us to this milestone. I now know in my mind what I previously only believed in my heart: That EVE will outlive us all.”

With ten years straight of steady growth, it’s easy to understand Pétursson optimism. EVE Online has also seen an impressive 10 percent growth spurt in just two months. When the expansion EVE Online: Retribution was released at the beginning of December, CCP Games reported that the MMO had only just crested 450,000 players.

The beginning of 2013 marks a crucial turning point for the game, though. After years of development, the EVE Online shooter Dust 514 went into public beta testing on PlayStation 3. On Jan. 10, CCP Games finally merged the EVE Online servers with the Dust 514 servers, mixing its half million role-players with the reportedly many players already trying out Dust 514. Members of the EVE community place the number of Dust 514 players as of early February above 1 million.

Expansion is the future for EVE Online. CCP said it will be celebrating its “Second Decade” with a number of events, starting with the EVE Fanfest in Iceland in April.