13-years after its launch, EVE Online is going free-to-play, developer CCP Games has announced. The new subscription-free experience is being introduced by way of a feature called “Clone States.”
The game will create two variants of players: Alpha Clones and Omega Clones. The former are able to “train and use a specific set of skills to fly some of the most often-used ships.” Although these characters are able to experience the majority of the EVE Online’s gameplay experience, their character development is somewhat restricted and they train skills at a slower rate than usual. They serve as a base character for those playing for free.
The Omega Clones, meanwhile, represent the current EVE players paying for access. They have “unlimited access to skill progression and rapid skill training.” An active subscription can be purchased to develop an Alpha Clone into an Omega Clone. Those that allow their subscription to lapse will revert to an Alpha state; unlocked skills exclusive to the Omega Clones will be preserved, but won’t be accessible until the a subscription is renewed.
In a video message explaining the decision to go free-to-play, CCP indicated the move was motivated by a need for growth, and to ensure players don’t leave as a result of having to pay a subscription.
“We know that the mandatory monthly subscription is a big barrier for new players,” explained executive producer Andie Nordgren. “It’s also one of our most common cancellation reasons for those who leave EVE.
“At the same time, EVE was very much designed as a subscription game from the start,” she continued. “And it has been a challenge to find a way to change that without also messing with the fundamentals that we really love about the EVE.”
In a blog post on the EVE Online website, CCP said more players makes the EVE universe more interesting to play in.
“As you know, EVE is a very special game. Our single shard server means that every player truly affects every other, whether through economics, resource gathering, direct combat or bad posting. This in turn means that our universe is more interesting, more exciting and more dangerous with each additional citizen.
“Part of our vision for the future of EVE has included more open access for some time, but with the interconnected nature of the game comes vulnerability. We knew that if the flood gates were opened in the wrong way, we could see anything from server meltdowns to the collapse of the EVE economy. Over time, our hardware has improved, code has been untangled (mostly!) and we’ve found a design we believe in.”
Clone States will be introduced in a “big November 2016 expansion.” The game’s sandbox gameplay will also be improved as part of this update with the addition of Industrial Arrays, “a new class of player-built structures furthering the progress of Citadel structures introduced in April.”
A “new ship, tactical adjustments to warfare links, exciting changes for the Rorqual industrial capital ship, and more” will be announced in the future.
In other CCP Games news, the studio is exploring VR and launched a first-person dogfighting game called EVE: Valkyrie for Oculus Rift. It is also working on Gunjack, which will be exclusive to the Samsung Gear VR.