The Shift: April 2020

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The ‘Drewpocalypse’, as it has apparently been coined, has caused one of the largest sudden shifts in the population of NationStates in recent memory. The YouTube video behind the surge was published on April 20, meaning the effects of it are still fresh and probably not entirely finished, but are at least past their peak at the time of writing. Instead of analysing the biggest shifts up and down for April, considering more than a dozen regions broke the growth record and the largest regional fall was a mere one World Assembly nation, we will instead deep dive into what this situation means for the game in both the short-term and long-term.

First, the basics – nations automatically cease to exist (CTE) after 28 days of not being logged in if vacation mode is left off, a setting most nations never touch as it ceases all issues completely. When there is a quick increase in population at one point, it can be expected that there will be a fall starting four weeks later. Anticipating anything different come mid-May would be wishful thinking, excluding the unlikely chance of a follow-up video or the sudden discovery of the game by another internet personality.


NOTE: Regions with no March 2020 data had a World Assembly population under 90.
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However, there is little need for despair. It is highly probable that some proportion of this influx will continue to log in for at least a few months, and a handful will inevitably remain as active members for many years, so do not expect the fall to be nearly as steep or sudden as the ascent. The other consequence of this could be a shift in the major User Created Regions (UCRs), with a record number of new additions to The Shift in this sixth monthly edition. Given the relatively stable number of total nations over the long-term, as well as varying preferences on region size, it holds that there are only so many UCRs, which currently hold 70% of World Assembly members, that can remain large.

As for which of these newly emerging regions might be fortunate enough to sustain the sudden growth, that is effectively a guessing game that I won’t be placing odds on. However, the growth of Ascenthia, Social Technocratic Union, and Confederacy of Layem stand out to me as particularly impressive, each with very high monthly growth rates, but the pressure is on their leaders to not make this a rapid phase of activity. While there is abundant potential for growth, sudden falls of activity can be fatal for establishing regions.


NOTE: This graph only includes regions with recorded data from the March 2020 edition.
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Looking at the present state of affairs, the surge has had an interesting, though unsurprising broader effect on population across all three region types. Feeders saw the majority of this influx initially due to game mechanics, which was eventually dispersed among sinkers and UCRs through an uptick in recruitment efforts. The latter of these experienced the strongest growth of the three, with their World Assembly populations collectively booming by 41.8%, closely followed by feeders at 40.9%, while sinkers lagged behind at 15.0%, though that number in itself is still astounding.

While it is a statistic that can be rather unreliable, Google Trends also reveals some curious data about interest in NationStates. Browser searches for the name have increased to weekly levels last seen in early May 2016 (coincidentally, exactly when I founded my nation), while a comparison of the stable periods before and after April 20 show that site activity has effectively doubled in the short-term.

While you should not expect that this event will leave its mark on NationStates history forever, and you certainly should not anticipate that the May 2020 edition of this series will show positive numbers, perhaps this is the push the game needed to shake up the status quo.

Llo

Llo has been on NationStates since May 2016, residing primarily in The Leftist Assembly, where he is currently serving as Secretary after two terms in 2017. He enjoys working in regional governments, particularly in news, elections, law-making, and polling as Polls Director of Unity Statistics. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of NationStates Today, and is now an editor and Politics/Gameplay writer.