Though they might not have played it, you’d be hard pressed to find a gamer that hasn’t at least heard of the space MMO EVE Online. Looking to fully capitalize on this, developer CCP is introducing a free-to-play option, hoping to reel in all those that have admired the game from afar for all these years.
Stories of EVE Online’s player driven economy, massive player organized corporations, and enough action and backstabbing to fill countless novels have permeated the games industry since the game launched 13 years ago. For the first time however, players will have the opportunity to jump into the game without paying a subscription. CCP calls the new feature “Clone States.”
Rooting the new system in the game’s lore, the clones that make up EVE’s population are now being developed in two states: Omega clones and Alpha clones. While subscribed players, either paying with real money or through the in-game PLEX system, will be classified as Omega, everyone else can make an account and join, without a subscription, as an Alpha.
Nothing is changing for Omega players, but Alpha players will have access to a restricted set of skills and skill levels. Only able to use ship and weapon skills for their given faction, Alpha players will also be restricted to tech one Frigates, Destroyers, and Cruisers. While unsubscribed players will start with the same number of skill points as everyone else, the restrictions will serve to focus the early game experience, simplify things, and reserve specific higher end level equipment and ships, like cloaking and pirate ships, for Omega players.
“By specifically selecting skills in this way, we can ensure that the EVE ecosystem and the value of Omega state are both protected, while still providing a wide-ranging, exciting EVE experience for Alphas,” CCP explains in a post on the game’s website.
Given how tight-knit a community EVE: Online is however, CCP emphasizes the specifics of how Alpha accounts will operate are still a work-in-progress. “We need your help to make sure the Alpha experience is the best it can be. We need to hear how you think Alpha state will get used, especially if there’s obvious problems,” the developer asks fans.
“We need to get the set of Alpha state skills tuned very carefully. And we also need to know what we can do to support you as a wave of new players come to the game looking for a home.”
Additionally, for the first time ever, CCP is flying the entire in-game, player-elected Council of Stellar Management out to Iceland next month to meet with developers in what is being called the September Summit. The new Clone State system will be one of the primary topics on the agenda.
If all goes according to plan, the free-to-play option will go live in November. “We are extremely excited about the Clone States feature. Soon, New Eden will be inundated with a flood of wide-eyed capsuleers eager to explore the world we’ve been building together for the past 13 years.”
CCP has put together an in-depth Q&A section, as well as a list of every skill the developer is considering allowing for Alpha players. You can find both on the EVE Online website.