EVE Online has seen the MMO-genre undergo massive changes. Released more than a year before World of Warcraft, EVE Online cultivated a small, but extremely loyal fan base. No game produced the stories from its community like EVE Online.

The game launched in May 2003 and saw the meteoric rise, led by World of Warcraft and fall of the MMO genre. ‘Fall’ isn’t the right word. MMOs just became less popular as other genres (MOBAs) captured gamers’ time.

Through it all, EVE Online maintained their subscription-only model. But that will soon change. Today, developer CCP announced an optional free-to-play model launching alongside the game’s next expansion in November.

Here’s how it works. Come November, characters will be split into two types – Omega Clones (for players with a paid subscription) and Alpha Clones (free-to-play).

EVE was designed from the get-go as a subscription-based game. The developers struggled to find ways to incorporate a free-to-play model to help attract more players. The solution above is what they came up with.

For current subscribers (Omega Clones) of EVE, nothing really changes. The big changes come to free players (Alpha Clones).

Skills – Alpha Clones will be limited to a specific set of skills and skill levels. CCP is doing this to maintain the integrity of the EVE ecosystem and the value of Omega Clones. The developer posted the full list of trainable skills for Alpha Clones on their website. They picked through them to try and prevent farming of any kind. But they also want to gather feedback on ways they can handle Alpha Clones better.

Skill training – If you’ve never played EVE Online, skills work a bit differently than say World of Warcraft. To level up mining in World of Warcraft, you go swing a pickaxe. In EVE, training occurs in real time. You set the skill you want to train and it takes a certain amount of hours (or days) to complete. The skill continues training even when you log out. Alpha Clones will train skills at a “slightly slower rate,” according to the developer.

Bottom line? Anyone will be able to experience a lot of what EVE has to offer come November. You won’t have the best of the best without subscribing, but you’ll also know if EVE is something you are interested in without having to pay money.

CCP hopes to convert the game everyone loves to read about into one many want to play.

I tackled EVE’s 14-day free trial a few times over the years. I had fun with it, but other MMOs at the time kept me from subscribing.

Adding a free-to-play option is a smart move. Everyone should jump in for at least a little while. Even if to just enjoy the scenery.

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