EVE TV: PPV for the PVP Crowd

So…, what is EVE TV? Originally, EVE TV was a free service to EVE Online players that allowed us to watch the very popular alliance tournaments. In order to make the tournaments more than just sitting there watching ships blow each other up – which is in itself fun – EVE TV added a studio with commentators (read: people from the EVE community) giving us not only the blow-by-blow of the game but also other related content, such as interviews with the DEV’s and news about upcoming game-related events.

The first of these events that I watched on EVE TV, a tournament that spanned a few days, was a lot of fun for me. I enjoyed watching the alliances fight it out and, in fact, this is one of the reasons I decided to join in the first place. After all, any MMO company that offers a service like that to its players for free has to be good.

The next event, however, was a tad different. CCP had decided to go through a distribution company named Jalipo and, as a result, if players wanted to see the higher quality versions of the tournament they had to pay. This experiment turned into a bit of a mess due to issues with the servers in which members were frequently unable to watch what they had paid for.

Now enter something completely new: On June 23, the first episode of the weekly version of EVE TV was put online during downtime. This new offering, recorded and distributed by MMM Publishers LTD, is a weekly news program hosted by long-time EVE player and veteran host of the EVE TV Alliance Tournaments spiralJunkie.

The other hosts are three girls and a guy. These are the vampy-looking blonde (StevieSG), the rather regal FortunaFive, the lovely Fangtooth Kasumi (who has already developed a stalkers’ union on the site Scrapheap Challenge and the “Is he a porn star? He must be with a name like that!” *ahem* rather interestingly named Beefy Fiddler.

Together, these five perform almost like news anchors in a newsroom setting or on-site correspondent reporters filling players in on events both within the game and without. Like most news programs, the first episode of EVE TV reported on events that affect their viewers (such as low-sec ganging where mobs are attacking and taking down transport ships before themselves being blown up by law enforcement), had sit-down interviews (the first one with Hellmar, CCP’s CEO), and on-site coverage and interviews from both the London June Player Meet and the Fanfest 2006 Party. Also, explaining one of the reasons for the four newbies (instead of pulling hosts from the fanbase), there were parts where the newbs described their experiences thus far.

So, what does one think of the new incarnation of EVE TV? Well, to be honest, I hadn’t been trolling the forums for information on what it would be like so I was surprised when my roommate told me about the hosts. My first response was “Do they even play EVE?” He rattled off a few things but the gist of it came down to him saying “So, no, I guess not.” Well, yes, they do play EVE; in fact, a look at their profiles will at least ease your fears that they’re not gamers or at least somewhat geekish at all.

I find it a bit sad, as a female player of the game, that they didn’t look to the community to find their hosts, and that out of the five on the show only one is a seasoned player. Don’t get me wrong – I do understand the need for cute girls in a product directed to a mostly male group. And no, I’m nowhere near that cute, but I personally know of a few women in the game. There are likely to be a few who are that visually pleasing and who would have loved to have done what these girls are doing.

When I actually watched the show, I was a little surprised by the format compared with the Alliance Tournament coverage, which generally took place in a more comfortable-looking room where a bunch of guys sat around talking to each other about the game they all obviously love. This original format had a lot of chemistry that the current EVE TV seems to lack. I’ll admit the set almost looks like a newsroom from a sci-fi show. It’s something I’d expect to see on one of the stations in EVE.

As for the chemistry of this lot? Well… It’s not quite there. In fact, this first episode seemed very stiff compared to the shows that spawned it. Granted, it’s their first episode and, with the exception of spiralJunkie, it was also the hosts’ first time on air. So, chances are that with progressive episodes this cast will find its pace and become more comfortable. For the first episode, however, if felt kind of like the first time you meet your girlfriend’s dad.

The on-site content and the interviews seemed a bit stiff compared to usual EVE related fare, but I look to future episodes and the experience of those on camera and off to help with this.

Another issue that detracted from the overall feel of the show, in the studio at least, was that either their teleprompter was not working or they didn’t have one at all. Either way, the “anchors” were reading the news directly from papers in from of them, much like high school students reading a book report to their class. Again, I see this being fixed in the future and helping to improve the show.

The last thing that should be mentioned about the show is the fee. To view episodes, players must sign up with Jalipo and giving them an email account as their login. Upon signing in, the player will be given 200 of what are called J:Credits that must be had to view the show. These credits are enough to cover the first episode you watch as well as a few minutes more of something else.

After this, credits must be bought through Jalipo at an exchange of $1 per 100 credits. So in essence, it costs viewers $1.50 to view an episode of EVE TV. Is it worth it? There’s a lot of debate about that right now on the EVE forums. In my opinion, if the show continues to be as it is now, no, it’s not worth the extra scratch.

But honestly, I’m going to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. No, this isn’t the first EVE TV event, but it’s the first one in this format and for four of our hosts it’s their first involvement with it at all. It’s likely that with a little more experience and some fine-tuning, EVE TV could be turned into something really interesting and fun. Will it be fun enough to pay for? Who knows! But I’ll be checking in every once in a while to find out.