stop bringing Star Citizen into that discussion.
First of all, Star Citizen is not an MMO. It is a game that will have a single-player and multi-player components. The multi-player component does not automatically mean MMO, even if the multi-player component lives in what the designers are calling a persistent world. Hell, their FAQ even flat-out states that their game is not an MMO.
MMOs are not developed with single-player play in mind. Nor are they developed with modding in mind. Nor are they developed with private servers in mind.
The scope of this game is nothing even approaching the scale of EVE Online. It shouldn't be part of the conversation, but somehow has entered the conversation.
If Star Citizen is even released (and I would bet 2015 as a more realistic target date, rather than their optimistic summer 2014 target), I'm sure people will be excited. I'm sure people will play it. I'm sure playtime in EVE will be lost to Star Citizen for awhile. In terms of it being an actual competitor to EVE Online, I'm also sure it will be a great disappointment to all those EVE players who are looking for it to be their space MMO saviour.
Star Citizen will not have the scale or the scope of EVE. (Apparently they are shooting for 100 star systems.) That's a bare fraction of what EVE offers. Sure, there could be gameplay options that EVE does not offer, such as planetary exploration, but those options will be limited. I very much doubt the entire geography of a planet will be open to exploration. (That is certainly technically possible, but is it feasible given their developmental time constraints?)
It will not have sandbox appeal. Persistence does not translate into open-endedness or freeform gameplay. If anything, this game will move more towards theme-park style play. The developer's previous games have had linear storylines and quest systems (Starlancer, Freelancer, Wing Commander), so he's apt to return to that well. It's what he's familiar with in terms of development.
As a persistent game, the ability to transform the play environment, to conquer, to hold territory, is going to be limited. Game companies are generally very careful on this front. They fear the possibility of successful players actually gating areas of the game from newer, less successful players. Chris Roberts has expressed his dislike of "griefing", which is really just shorthand for players being able to affect the gameplay of others. A sandbox does not seek to eliminate certain types of interactions between players, it might seek to limit or penalize certain interactions, but never to eliminate them. It seems apparent that a great many possible player-to-player interactions will be eliminated outright. A sandbox requires there be consequences to actions, that players have real affect on other players. Chris Roberts dislike for certain types of sandbox gameplay negates Star Citizen ever being a sandbox game.
Based on interviews, it would seem that Chris Roberts' idea of persistence revolves around story. Complete quests, the game's story trajectory changes. Of course, this is a form of roleplaying, and story trajectory is so much just making stuff up. And then rationalizing why Y happened after X was completed. A story that sort of makes sense can be concocted for any set of scenarios, when the real reason why Y happened is because it was already in development, so it was going to happen no matter what.
Does it need mentioning that the only discussion of combat so far for this game has been of the arena battle variety? Again, not a sandbox concept. Not too mention shunting PvP off as almost an afterthought. The developer talks of PvP settings, and avoiding PvP if that's not gameplay you desire. This is definitely theme park gameplay, and not sandbox gameplay. Most of the focus on this game seems to be on NPC encounters. Any game that shunts PvP into instanced "arenas" has already determined that PvP is not going to be a focus of design or development.
There's talk of instancing. So, whereas exist in a single galaxy, that's only true to a point. If your group is large enough, you travel instanced, never seeing anybody else in game, but your pals. And I suspect a large number of players will simply run their own private servers. Carebears really do not much like playing with others, at least not being negatively affected by others. They don't mind cooperative play, but they'll get that on their own private servers with their pals, who they already know and trust. Carebears aren't keen on interacting with the random, unwashed masses.
The economy is, perhaps, the only potentially promising part of this game. The goal is to support all players in one persistent-universe, which immediately lends itself to a functioning economy. That said, his dislike of players interfering with other players will lean the result towards a runaway economy. Not being able to interfere with other players means any real loss that players can (and should) experience is kept to a bare minimum. I expect inflation will be a huge problem within a short while. Money in Star Citizen becomes a scoreboard tally, not something that becomes fluid with the economy. Without frequent real loss, the economy will simply inflate. The only way to keep it propped up, especially given the lack of consequence Chris Robert's says he prefers in his multiplayer games, is to hit the player with a constant barrage of "gold" sinks.
Granted, all of this is supposition of my own. But I am taking into account the developer's historical track record in game design and comments he's made on his vision for the game. Roberts is known for a particular type of game, and sandbox does not fall into his sphere of influence.
There's also the possibility that this game never evolves beyond vapourware, and that Kickstarter supporters have just been throwing their money into a hole. I personally believe something called Star Citizen (what an unfortunate name for a game) will be released, sometime after 2014, but will it live up to expectations? It's certainly not going to be what a lot of EVE Online players hope it will be.
I realize a lot of what I've said here has been negative sounding. But that's only from the perspective of people who are expecting Star Citizen to be something other than what it is advertising itself to be. It's baffling how so many EVE Online players have been mistaking this game as some sort of competitor to EVE Online, especially when it seems so obvious to me that it lives in a completely different gaming genre. Sure, they're both sci-fi, but that seems to be the only similarity, it's all differences beyond that.
Star Citizen might be a great game. It'll probably be a game I'd like to play. It'll probably offer a few months of interesting distraction, something new to get involved with. But it won't be a replacement to EVE Online. Not by a long shot. CCP has nothing much to worry about from Star Citizen. That is for sure.