Tomorrow, around 1040 people will discover that space game EVE Online no longer works for them.
They represent 0.3 per cent of the game's population (1040 number calculated using creative director Torfi Frans Olafsson's revelation that there are 340,000 people subscribing to EVE). And it's they who are using computers with soon to be unsupported CPUs - processors.
"CPUs that don't support the SSE2 instruction set will not be able to run EVE Online after the Incursion 1.1.0 deployment on Tuesday, January 18, 2011," announced EVE developer CCP on its website. "This will cause players still using Intel Pentium 3 or AMD Athlon XP or older CPUs not to be able to run the EVE Online client. Athlon 64 CPUs are not affected."
CCP explained that during Incursion testing, a rare, random issue kept recurring, but couldn't be replicated in-house and therefore fixed. In an "epiphany", CCP realised a feature had been turned on to use the SSE2 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 2) mechanic - something first introduced to CPU chips inside the Pentium 4."
CCP concluded: "We've looked at hardware trend reports and the general status of the market and this obsolete generation of CPUs in desktop computers and gaming rigs is nearly extinct. We estimate that around 0.3 per cent of the playerbase will be affected.
"We have, therefore, decided to not let this block the deployment of Incursion 1.1.0.
"An info message that pops up when you start the client on a non-SSE2 capable machine has been added for clarification. We urge everyone who encounters this specific error to submit a petition to our customer support department."
Incursion paves the way for the huge Incarna (Walking In Stations) update, which is due this summer. The most eye-catching addition is the new character creation system, which knocks our space-socks off.