After an impressive 13-year run as a subscription-based game, MMORPG and glorious galactic economics simulator EVE Online is about to introduce a prolonged free-to-play option for the first time ever.
Here’s how it’s going to work: Following the release of the game’s next expansion in November, EVE Online players will be split into two different player types. The first, known as Omega clones, are essentially going to be EVE Online‘s current player base, as they will still pay a monthly fee and have access to all of the features that are in the game.
The second type of players, dubbed Alpha clones, are going to be the free-to-play crowd who will not be limited by any zone restrictions or time limits, but will not have access to the more advanced in-game skills, which allow them to command larger ships, among other things. These Alpha clones will still be able to access Frigates, Destroyers, and Cruisers.
In essence, Alpha clones are not going to be missing out on anything that is necessarily considered essential to the fundamental EVE Online experience. At the same time, Omega clones will be able to revert to a free-to-play account, but will lose access to any Omega clone skills they currently possess.
The move is a fascinating one. Although an MMO going to free-to-play isn’t usually headline news (most MMO games actually launch with a free-to-play option), EVE Online is a completely different animal. Famous for its incredibly intricate gameplay systems and steep learning curve, EVE Online has seemingly always prided itself on being a more involved alternative to some of the most popular games in the genre.
It seems to be developer CCP Games’ attempt to allow new players to experience what the basic EVE Online game is like before deciding if they want to commit to a subscription in order to get to the advanced levels. Whether or not this decision will be enough to entice new players to take the plunge and spend hours of their lives learning the game’s incredibly deep mechanics remains to be seen.