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'Eve Online' introduces Clone States, free-to-play expansion coming in November

Developer CCP Games promises “big, fundamental changes” on PC for its massively multiplayer online role-playing game Eve Online in the coming weeks, revealing that it plans to drop its subscription requirements for the first time in 13 years while enabling a new free-to-play gameplay structure.

CCP Games plans to enlist new players via free Alpha State Clones, which offer limited functionality compared to characters created as part of subscription accounts. Players can still opt to pay a monthly fee for additional benefits reserved for subscribers.

Related: EVE Online spinoff Dust 541 set for closure, but will live on through PC successor

According to CCP, players who join Eve Online for free will be assigned Alpha State Clones, which can access the bulk of Eve Online‘s gameplay, including mining, combat, and interstellar exploration and trade. As a tradeoff for skirting the monthly fee, Alpha State Clones will lag behind subscribers in terms of experience gain and skill training.

“The Alpha Clone State is the new base state for all clones, and it will be available to any character in New Eden at any time,” CCP Games explains. “Clones in the Alpha state will be able to train and use a specific set of skills including tech one Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers for your faction, along with essential weapons and modules. Alphas will also train skills at a reduced rate compared to Omegas.”

Returning Eve Online players with an active subscription are marked as Omega State Clones, granting them full experience gain and unlimited skill access. CCP Games says subscribers can continue to play Eve Online in any fashion and at their own pace, regardless of their new Omega State Clone status. Once a user’s subscription lapses, their characters will revert to Alpha State, blocking access to Omega State-specific skills.

CCP notes that it has carefully weighed its free-to-play options over the last several months in an attempt to balance the game’s existing economies with a forthcoming influx of new players.

“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,” developer Team Size Matters explains. “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.”

Eve is ready for this,” the statement concludes.

Alpha State and Omega State Clones will launch as part of an upcoming Eve Online expansion rolling out in November.