EVE Online’s Free To Play Update Coming November 15th

One imagines that the recent glut of space games – yer Elites, Star Citizens, even No Man’s Skys – are eating a few of the spacechips from EVE Online‘s plate [official site]. Why else would the MMO be partially removing its subscription requirement after thirteen years in order to offer free-to-play options on November 15th?

While other games may scratch your itch for inky black, there’s still plenty that EVE offers that no other game does – which is exactly the tack taken by this new aspirational trailer. It gets me right in the spaceglands.

Look at that, will you. CCP are good at using escalating electronic music, beautiful space vistas, massive fleet warfare and dialogue from real players in order to sell the dream of EVE Online. It’s almost enough to make me forget that every one of the players depicted is pushing at menu buttons to steer and probably moving in slow motion during those massive battles so the server can keep up.

EVE’s free-to-play option, which arrives with an update called Ascension, introduces characters who can be played for free but are only able to train certain skills. That will limit them to flying low-level ships and only being able to use basic weapons and ship modules. If players want to unlock the rest of the game, including dozens of ships, hundreds of skills and faster XP learning rates, they’ll still need to pay for a subscription using real money or in-game cash. CCP explained how the system works in a video back in August.

I’ve pottered about in EVE on and off over the past decade but never been fully immersed in its world. That’s mostly because it requires such an enormous time commitment, but the subscription fee does stop me from dabbing as much as I might. It’s unlikely I’m ever going to join a player-led corporation and set about conquering a part of the galaxy, but I might, now it’s going free-to-play, return to do some space tourism, to run some trade routes, and to potter about with spaceships. CCP hope of course that others will do the same, and that a “revised new player experience” will carry at least a few of those curious players beyond the basics and into the more consuming world of space bastardry.

And EVE Online has produced many great player-derived stories space bastardry. We’ve written about many of them, including grand betrayals, bankers funding wars and gambling kingpins destabilising EVE, plus propaganda and protesters blockading trade hubs. EVE has produced a lot worth writing about.


  1. Alfius says:

    Karmafleet is recruiting.
    link to karmafleet.org

  2. kyon says:

    I really, really, really hope this new model doesn’t backfire at them.
    If it does, another giant will have fallen.

    • Alfius says:

      I’m not sure what the worst case scenario is here. If everything that can go wrong does go wrong surely we’re just back at square one with a fairly committed but very slowly dwindling player base, many of whom are content to throw money at CCP periodically. CCP’s revenues from Eve have been very solid of late (SKINs, skill extractors, hats and the like), some of that is being poured back into Eve but apparently most is getting wrapped up with the recent capital injection and ploughed into VR. I’m more concerned about the VR side backfiring. Eve is solid as a standalone product but if the company that develops and supports it hits difficulties its future will become embroiled in something bigger.

      • Slazia says:

        As a former player for around three or four years from beta, I’m interested in this. This might be enough to pull me back in.

      • mrbright01 says:

        Seconded. I worry, as I always do when VR is concerned, that they are going to kill the cow to save on corn feed. Until VR becomes an established thing, I just don’t trust that any efforts into VR will be wasted (the irony of this is not lost on me).

    • mrbright01 says:

      I suspect not. Unlike a lot of MMO’s that go F2P, Eve is unique in that it can offer a good version of the game like this without basically giving up the game completely to those who are F2P. You can do most of the basics, and that’s enough to draw folks in, but to get to the big ships with big guns fighting in big battles with big results will require a paid sub.

      At the very least, I doubt this option will result in the game collapsing any faster than it would otherwise.

      • Sound says:

        I agree. Eve’s unique nature makes it less susceptible to the diseases afflicting other F2P transitions. The decision of whether or not to pay does not affect the player’s ability to participate in much of what’s best about Eve. You can still play an important part in schemes, wars, and so much else whether you’re flying a cheap ship or an expensive ship.

    • BananaMan3000 says:

      It’s basically just an unlimited free trial really, I doubt it’s going to be catastrophic for the game. Hopefully the playerbase will start to climb slowly and breathe a bit more life into the game.

  3. Ghostwise says:

    As one of ’em role-playing types, I’d be quite interested in freely accessing the characters generator. I hear good things about it.

  4. saillc says:

    I may have liked eve back in the day, but the idea of losing everything to griefers on the regular has to be one of the most unappealing ideas of a video game for me I can think of. Hope it works out for ccp, but this is not a game I’ll probably ever be playing.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      I think folks that haven’t played the game (or who have just started) worry too much about this.

      There’s an unwritten rule in Eve: only fly what you can afford to lose. At no point will you be in a position to ‘lose everything’, unless you make some very bad choices and unnecessary risks. You also have control over the danger you face. And rewards scale with danger – so in many cases losses can be absorbed, even when you’re playing more dangerously.

      But this mechanic, that you have possessions that can be lost – that your spaceship won’t just be gifted back to you when you die – that you can head out into unfriendly territory and face actual risk – are critical to the experience and honestly the backbone of the game. I’ve never had sweatier palms than when I’ve played eve.

      I choose not to play due to the required commitment – if you want to get something out of it then it really is a second job. If I were house-bound it’d definitely be my thing.

    • Sound says:

      I’ve seen this sentiment a few times, but it’s pretty far off the mark. Lost assets in Eve should not be thought of as a major step backward, as if you lost a level or lost your PvE gear. Once you’ve been playing a while, you come to find that your primary ‘progress’ and potency in the game *can not be taken away by any means.*
      Because those things are measured in your knowledge, skill, social connections, ideas, and so on.

      Ships and assets are just an easily-replaced means of exercising those aforementioned attributes. Usually, it does not hugely matter if you lose your stuff. If you have any sense whatsoever, you’ll have a few copies of your lost ship ready to go in your hangar when you do explode.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      You can also insure your ships so you’ll get reimbursed some of the cost when they explode.
      If you just stick around in hi-sec space you’re really unlikely to get griefed though, unless you’re carrying a stupidly expensive cargo in an inappropriate ship. Think of it like real life*, if you stick to the well lit public bits of town, and you don’t have bundles of cash hanging out of your pockets, the chances of getting mugged are pretty low (hopefully). Go wandering round the more dodgy bits of town, flashing around your new iPhone and the odds go up a bit.

      * Although, in Eve terms, there is no RL, there is just extended AFK.

  5. geldonyetich says:

    The glass ceiling on this is set so low that I would hesitate to call this truly free to play. It’s more like a trial.

    Existing EVE players will likely play along, hoping to entice the useless fruit flies to get hooked so they have a new boatload of suckers to fleece in intergalactic spreadsheet high jinks. They’ll not trick me, I know they’ve a vinegar fruit fly trap with my name on it.

  6. racccoon says:

    Another false statement & a fantasy for CCP! Play for free..Look like a douche, become a pawn, be a laughing stock, yes!
    Eve is a p2p game and you can not and will not ever match anyone who has been in the game for years! Skills are this game, no skills, no game! Even when you think got skills you don’t! Its a never ending cycle of p2p to lock onto those skills you don’t have, afterwards your achievement is…yep, onto more skills.
    Eve is a skill whirlpool of mush.
    The mush is the money you wasted on just getting more more skills.

    • Sound says:

      You are quite incorrect on practically everything you’ve said.

      Personally, I’ve been playing for free for about half of my time in Eve. For those times I chose to pay a subscription, I never bothered paying money for anything beyond that. I certainly never paid for skills, despite being newer than my peers.

      Early on, I was not limited by skills from the activities I wanted to do. Some ships were out of reach, but they were not necessary to do what I wanted to do. And later on, once I’d amassed a lot of skills, the vast majority of them were utterly unnecessary, granting a very small bonus.

      This reflects the elegance of the skill system: It’s frontloaded with quickly-gained utility and breadth, where high skills are not needed, except for specialist roles. If you’re under the impression that you need a great deal of skill points to be competitive, or to try out lots of things, or be competent at many things, or to win 1-on-1 fights, then you are flat out wrong.

      I could make a new character today and be doing nearly anything I could think of within a month, but probably less time than that.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      You missed that they introduced skill injectors recently then eh?
      Pay ISK, get skillz.

  7. Sound says:

    “It’s unlikely I’m ever going to join a player-led corporation and set about conquering a part of the galaxy, but I might, now it’s going free-to-play, return to do some space tourism, to run some trade routes, and to potter about with spaceships.”

    If you’ve previously bounced off Eve, this way of interacting with it is likely the reason why. I’d suggest not to bother trying it again if you’re not going to seek out a player corporation.

    In theory anyone can enjoy any play style in Eve. But in practice, the people who stick around are usually the ones who join Corporations and Alliances that engage in PvP. It’s where the game best expresses itself.

  8. TakeItEasyMon says:

    I played this game for more than a decade (yikes).

    The vast bulk of the people that made the game both interesting in concept and content are now no longer with CCP or playing; it’s been a steady drip downwards in quality for both devs and playerbase for years.

    I admit it’s tempting to log back in for free and chat up some old friends, but the chasm between what Eve always promised as possibility and what the UI/Game ultimately delivered year after year just got wider and wider for me until I unsubbed.

    It’s too bad, they had one of the best IP’s around for a long time, and squandered the possibilities.