‘EVE Online’ Adding Free-To-Play Tier To Bring More Players In

EVE Online is easily one of the most daunting MMORPG experiences in the gaming landscape. This makes it difficult for new players to jump in, especially when they are paying a monthly subscription fee. CCP Games announced Wednesday it is lowering that barrier to entry by introducing a free-to-play tier to invite more PC gamers to try the space-based MMORPG.

CCP Games will update EVE Online in November of 2016 to include what it calls clone states. The “Omega clone state is essentially the paid subscription service of the game as it exists today with no changes.” Meanwhile, the “Alpha clone state” is reserved for free-to-play accounts to create and train characters up to a certain point.

“The most important thing to know about Alpha clones is that they may only use a specific set of skills and skill levels,” CCP Games explains. “To begin with, we are planning that the Alpha skill set will be focused on using tech one Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers. Alpha clones will only be able to use ship and weapon skills native to their faction. If you have skills trained on a character in Alpha State, which are not part of the Alpha skill set, those skills will be locked and unusable until Omega state is reactivated. Characters will start the game with the same 400,000 skill points as they do now and will be able to train freely within the Alpha list. A fully trained Alpha will have roughly 5 million skill points.”

Alpha Clones will only be able to upgrade so much. [Image via CCP Games]

The limitations on free-to-play accounts are to protect the EVE Online in-game economy and provide an incentive to eventually upgrade to the paid subscription Omega state when the time comes. The limits on Alpha clones prevents players from gaining access to powerful skills and ships that could unbalance the in-game harvesting of materials (aka farming).

“Alphas also have enormous freedom,” CCP Games points out. “They will be doing everything from rampaging null sec in Caracal fleets to exploration sites in high sec to playing a major role in faction warfare.”

The list of trainable skills available to EVE Online free-to-play accounts listed in the announcement is relatively hefty but capped at a maximum level of four or five. This is still a relatively thin slice of the nearly overwhelming number of skills available in the game.

The goal is to draw in new players to EVE Online. The game is now 13-years-old, and it turned into a quietly successful MMORPGs during that time with a peak over 500,000 subscribers reached in 2013. The game occasionally breaks into the news due to gigantic space battles between warring factions, but the barrier to entry compared into the sandbox MMORPGs has proved steep compared to more guided experiences like World of Warcraft.

EVE Online has offered a free 14-day trial in the past, but that is barely enough time to dig into the game and learn its mechanics and nuances. The $8 to $10 a month subscription price limits a new player’s decision on whether to continue. The new free-to-play option should provide a more gradual on-ramp for those who have been interested in the game but unwilling to take the plunge.

Those players who have allowed their EVE Online subscriptions to lapse can returns as well without renewing. Their accounts will automatically be converted into the free-to-play Alpha clone state and they will have access to their characters. However, any ships that are greater than allowed for the Alpha clone will only be flyable until the next time it is docked. Additionally, any ship bonuses or attributes that are exclusive to Omega clones will not be enabled and modules that require Omega skills will be set offline.

Will you give EVE Online a shot when it goes free-to-play on the PC? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via CCP Games]

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