There aren’t many games for which built-in integration with Microsoft Excel would be a major feature whose announcement would draw literal cheers from fans. But Eve Online showed itself to be the exception when developer CCP announced coming Excel integration during its Eve Fanfest keynote this morning.
“It’s not April fools; this is real,” Eve Online Creative Director Bergur Finnbogason said on the Fanfest stage, receiving bemused laughter in response. “I’m not lying—we actually reached out to [Microsoft] and they were like, ‘Oh my god, we love Eve!'”
Spreadsheets in space!
Joking references to Eve Online‘s reputation as a “spreadsheets in space” simulator date back well over a decade at this point. And CCP leaned into that reputation at Fanfest, with Finnbogason joking that a data-filled presentation on the game’s economy by data scientist CCP Larrikin “really, really, really, really make[s] Eve sound like ‘spreadsheets in space.’ It’s hard to be a creative director sometimes when you have all the spreadsheet loving.”
Despite that, Finnbogason went on to acknowledge that “data is massively important to many advanced playstyles in Eve.” And it’s true; many individual players and in-game corporations use external tools and spreadsheets to track their resource production and destruction metrics in extreme detail. That data tracking can be key to efforts to maximize in-game currency, which can in turn be traded for additional game subscription time on the open market.
At Fanfest, though, Finnbogason noted that “the initial cost of setting up these [data-tracking] systems can be pretty daunting for small groups.” Built-in Excel integration for Eve Online data should “simplify the access to data for all” and “level the playground when it comes to the tools of the sandbox,” he said.
“Whether satisfying your curiosity or maximizing your industrial enterprise or managing your frontline warfare, it’s in your hands to create the tools for your advancement,” he said.
CCP already helps data-obsessed players with graph-filled monthly reports on everything from resource-mining production to regional NPC bounties. It’s all part of the company’s ongoing and surprisingly successful two-decade effort to actively manage its complex in-game economy. The goal, as CCP Larrikin put it on stage at Fanfest, is to create an “equitable distribution of resources” that will lead to more player satisfaction and a better game.
While a short demo of Eve Online‘s Excel integration drew legitimate cheers from the Fanfest audience, Finnbogason said the API tools were still in the “early phase” and that the company will be “sharing more later in the year.” That said, Finnbogason added that “this is pretty wild stuff,” and we have to agree.
Now if only Nintendo would create a similar spreadsheet tool so we could track our burgeoning Animal Crossing bell businesses.