More than a decade after it first launched, sci-fi virtual world EVE Online is going free. Developer CCP Games announced the change today, which will see the game add a new free option as part of its next big update in November.
With the update, EVE Online players will essentially be separated into two different tiers: "Omega clones" and "Alpha clones." Omega clones will apply to accounts with existing subscriptions, and will give players access to the entire game, just as they always have. Alpha clones represent the free option, and offer a more limited, and very specific set of skills, weapons, and ships that players have access to. Alpha players who want to see more of the game will have the option to upgrade to an Omega account.
"We’ve found a design we believe in."
According to CCP, the decision to add a free option has been a long time coming. While EVE Online has a vibrant community — one that even inspired a history book — the playerbase has waned over the years, and the new free tier is designed to both bring in new players and entice lapsed fans.
"We’ve been doing everything we can to bring more people into our spectacular sandbox," the developer explained in a blog post. "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 floodgates 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."
For existing players, the price of the monthly subscription will remain unchanged, and CCP says that it will continue to release new updates and expansions for free.