EVE Vegas 2017: EVE Online’s free-to-play option is getting a huge boost

When EVE Online added its free-to-play alpha clone account option, it felt more like an infinite trial than a truly viable free tier. Alpha clone players are currently limited to a single faction’s ships, can only fly tech 1 cruiser sized ships and below, train skills at half the normal speed, and have access to only about 5 million skill points worth of skills. CCP Games initially expected there to be a section of the playerbase who would play alphas exclusively and never upgrade to a full account, but the options proved to be far too limiting and internal stats showed that most people upgraded to Omega quickly or quit.

At EVE Vegas 2017, CCP announced that EVE Online‘s free option is getting a massive boost this December after the Lifeblood expansion. Alpha clones will soon be able to fly battlecruisers and use tech 2 small and medium guns, allowing them to fly many of the common ships used in nullsec fleets and removing most of the power gap between alpha and omega pilots in those roles. They’ll also be able to fly battleships and train for all 4 races of ships, which has the side effect of allowing powerful pirate faction and cross-faction ships such as the Machariel and Stratios.

Read on for a brief breakdown how the new system will work for new and current players.

The upgraded alpha clone accounts will have access to over 20 million skill points worth of skills but will still train at half the speed of an Omega player. In a confusing twist for new players, alpha skill training will pause once you reach 5 million skill points and you’ll have to either subscribe or use skill injectors to progress beyond that. Once the skills are trained, however, you’ll still be able to use them indefinitely when in an alpha state. CCP also hinted that new boosters may be added to the store to enable training beyond the 5 million mark or increase training speed to that of an omega character, but these plans aren’t finalised.

These changes also come with the potential for additional abuse that CCP will have to keep an eye on. Gank Brutixes with tech 2 guns and ammo can deal an incredible amount of damage with a relatively small investment of ISK and training time, for example, so we can expect freighter suicide ganks to rise following this change. A fully trained alpha will even be able to fly powerful pirate battleships such as the Machariel without too much of a penalty, leading to some worries that some veterans will have little reason to stay subscribed. On a positive note, nullsec alliances are already figuring out how to fit the new alpha upgrades into their standard battlecruiser fleet doctrines.

Disclosure: In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that CCP is paying for our writer’s travel, accommodation, and ticket for this event along with several other members of the gaming press. CCP has neither requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event, and the writer is paid exclusively by Massively OP for this work. They also filled me with cheese fries and coffeeeeeeeee :D
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