“We’ve been looking at how we could do this for a while,” CCP Seagull explains in a new video. “We know that the mandatory monthly subscription is a big barrier for new players, and it’s also one of our most common cancellation reasons for those who leave EVE.”
The in-universe mechanism for the new system is what the studio is calling “clone states.” Players who pay subs or pay with PLEX will do so in an “Omega Clone State” that allows them to keep on playing just as they do now. Players who play for free will do so in an “Alpha Clone State” with skill limitations.
“The most important thing to know about Alpha clones is that they may only use a specific set of skills and skill levels. 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.
“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. The clone state prevents access to powerful skills like Cynosural Field Theory and Cloaking, and limits farming through skills that control scaling and efficiency. We are also able to react to unexpected issues by refining the Alpha clone skill list further, should the need arise. Of course, Alphas also have enormous freedom. 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 rollout is planned for the November update.
In a followup FAQ, CCP has said that simultaneous logons for free players are still up in the air; that other players will not be able to see your clone state; and that it doesn’t expect free accounts will amount to significant increases in harassment, suicide ganking, botting, lag, or farming. Of note, the team says, “We are creating and implementing concrete plans to make sure we can provide the same level of support for all of our players.”