2013 is a big, big year for Iceland’s CCP Games. Its signature massively multiplayer role-playing game EVE Online turns ten years old this year, but it will also expand in the most dramatic way yet. Come Thursday, January 10, EVE Online’s servers will be merged with the online servers for Dust 514, the multiplayer shooter that takes place in the same universe as the MMO.
When CCP first introduced Dust 514 in 2009, the idea was absurdly ambitious. In a fictional universe ruled by fake private corporations run by real world players, CCP would make a shooter populated by real players to determine the outcomes of massive in-game conflicts. A game of virtual mercenaries commanded by real people. After close to half a decade of development, that shooter is ready to be linked to the game properly, beginning another grand experiment for CCP Games.
“[Following] a slightly longer than usual scheduled downtime, we will be migrating over players currently participating in the Dust 514 closed beta from Singularity to Tranquility,” reads CCP’s official update, “This is a particularly special day here at CCP as this brings to life an ambitious and incredibly exciting vision of a single cross platform universe, the likes of which have never been undertaken before.”
The hyperbole is well earned in this case; no one has tried this before. Whether it will actually work is still up in the air.
“Dust mercenaries can belong to existing EVE corporations if you’re willing to accept their applications,” explains the post, “Similarly you will see corporations starting by Dust mercenaries recruiting EVE pilots to join up with them. You can share corporation chat including voice chat and invite them into custom channels or private converstions.”
EVE and Dust are wildly different games. While Dust is a familiar team-based shooter, EVE is a taxing space simulation as concerned with economics as with role-playing in space. The fiction blends the two play styles seamlessly but the audiences for each tend to be of very different temperaments. Finding that those different sorts of players can fruitfully interact with each other is the biggest challenge facing CCP.
CCP is coming off of an incredibly successful year already. First, EVE Online received the particular honor of joining the Museum of Modern Art’s first standing collection of video games. Second, EVE Online grew to 450,000 subscribers for the first time.