CCPDuring my visit to Iceland a few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit one of the greatest “startups” in a while – CCP Games. CCP Games has its offices in the Silicon Docks area of Reykjavik. While the other startups are doing the proper bootstrapping and sharing offices next door, CCP Games has grown to cover three stories employing some 450 people at the moment. Those who aren’t that familiar with CCP Games, they are the developer of Eve Online one of the most popular MMORPGs out there. In short, there are over 300 000 registered players on Eve Online and almost everyone is paying about 15 USD a month for the membership (some have 14-day trial accounts). This in turn sky rockets their revenue well past 50 000 000 USD annually.

As many might know I’m a big fan of games, although I don’t play them that much anymore. The first image of the company is one of extreme relaxation and coolness once you step into their lobby. People are playing air hockey and some were having their late lunch in the company restaurant – all free of charge of course. Don’t get me wrong – there were a ton of people hard at work and with the tour of their company, I knew a lot things had been finetuned to result in perfection.

CCP has been growing strongly and still is. By next spring they’re anticipating to have over 500 employees working at their three locations; Shanghai, Reykjavik and Atlanta. They have a huge amount of different talent inside the company. For example, they even employ a couple economists who study the economy of the game universe and report on an quarterly basis on the developments within. Just in July, they had their share of embezzlements and a collapse of a bank that caused a lot of damage to the economy of the game. Naturally, they have a team in place to look at employee fraud cases as well. When there are 450 people working in the company and more or less each one could possess the powers of a god inside the game universe – you need to be certain that no one is using their position inapproriately.

Furthermore, looking at the breakdown of the company regarding job functions one of the largest group of employees are the customer support people. There are over 70 of them in CCP Games and they work 24/7 to answer customer problems and solve different issues. Customer support is scattered across the globe so that responsibility is transferred smoothly as the day goes by.

CCP Games used to have different pools of talent that they could dig into as they develop their products, Eve Online, World of Darkness and Dust514. This has then been changes so that each product are has its own team and the whole company uses the scrum method to get work done. For example, one of the team leaders I talked to, was the New Player Experience. They ferociously look into problems and new user funnels on how they adopt the game and try to make that experience easier and smoother. To be honest, they still have quite a bit of work as I had my share of difficulties when downloading the game and installing it – just where would they be in terms of users if it truly was as easy as it should be.

Nevertheless, the company hasn’t put all its eggs into a single basket and they are developing the company through three different products. One of the most interesting ones is perhaps Dust514. This is a single person shooter that works in co-operation with the Eve Online universe. The story goes so that when a certain group of people in Eve Online want a planet taken over or in other cases where grassroots level fighting is required, they will have to refer to the help of the players in Dust514. These players, in a totally different game, on a totally different platform, take to the planet and do the fighting. The result of these operations then have an effect on the game in Eve Online. I was thrilled to hear about all this, while in Reykjavik. Have a look at the video below to get a glimpse of what’s coming.

Eve Online however, still remains their most successful game. Here’s a video put together by CCP Games to describe what the game is all about. After seeing this, you begin to realise what kind of possibilities they have in hand for the future:

Last, but not least – I had a little chat with Helga, the Associate Producer of New Eden. New Eden is a social network being built inside Eve Online to enable better communication between gamers.I have to say, visiting CCP Games was one great experience. Not only, because the company shines of coolness and the workers there aim for excellence, but because we rarely get to see success stories of this magnitude on this side of the Atlantic.