The line between a F2P option and an extended/unlimited trial continues to get blurred, this time by EVE Online.
In some respects, this new option gives people access to all of the game (high sec, low sec, null, and WH) for free. On the other, it limits what ships you can fly and how you can fit them enough that beyond a time-uncapped sample, I doubt a lot of people who stick with the game are going to remain as F2P alpha pilots, which is why I don’t really view this as ‘true’ F2P. F2P to me means you can access most if not all of the game without paying, just that usually that access is more difficult to grind to. Here, no amount of time will ever get an alpha pilot into anything bigger than a cruiser, or allow them to fit tech 2 equipment, or train certain skills like cloaking.
Is this good for EVE? Of course. EVE’s biggest issue since… basically launch has been its ability to retain new players. It a hard game to get into, both from a mechanics perspective and because its a true sandbox that really doesn’t hold your hand while it shows you the pretty sights, so anything that gets someone over that hump is a plus.
Now this being EVE it’s likely (odd are currently set to 100%) that someone will find a way to work some ‘unintended consequences’ our of this. That’s a risk you take when adding anything to EVE, but its especially high when you allow unlimited alts to be created. But like I said, IMO its a worthwhile risk, and CCP going in this direction allows them to capture some of the ‘I’ll only try it if its F2P’ crowd without shifting the focus of EVE all together. They don’t need to add (another) cash shop to make this work, or ‘tweak’ SP gains to ‘encourage’ visiting a shop.
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From what I’ve read, now that you can buy skill point injectors and, for quite awhile now, game currency for real $$, EvE was basically ftp in all but the payment model anyways.
You can’t use injectors on alpha pilots though, so everyone that wants to do more than the basics is still paying a sub, one way or the other.
Now where did I leave that movie The Backpedaling: Pedal Harder? Oh never mind, here it is, we found it, guys!
What this means is that retention currently is in the pits, and/or that sub losses accelerated recently beyond what is acceptable by corporate.
This will not bring in more people, because with EVE’s reputation (tough game, tougher community) the type of people that it attracted never had qualms about paying for a sub assuming the experience was worth it. People left because the new player experience was abysmal, the game was too hardcore/time consuming, or aspects of the community drove them off. As seen by the sheer amounts of skill injectors being traded, buying a PLEX hardly warrants a second thought for most players.
This will simply allow some players to keep in touch with the game and their group if their funds are running low (college student maybe?) but bringing in new people in droves that would upgrade to omega? Nah.
If the only people EVE draws in right now are people who know its tough but still sign up, why would that group not make it past the tough part they are already aware of? That doesn’t really make sense does it?
Plus that thinking doesn’t align with the trends. Every free Steam weekend a ton of new pilots are created, but they don’t stick around. A large part of that is the bad new player experience, especially when someone has to justify subscribing shortly after. This program removes the time barrier, which will result in higher conversion. Perhaps not a lot, because again you still have the overall barrier, but it will do something.
And it will do something at basically no cost to the game. Usually a F2P conversion requires replacing the sub income with something else (cash shop), but that’s not happening here. The sub income isn’t being impacted, which is why this isn’t EVE going F2P, despite the easy-to-write headline we are seeing. WoW didn’t go F2P when the trial was made unlimited in terms of time. This is basically that, but in EVE.
“The sub income isn’t being impacted, which is why this isn’t EVE going F2P, despite the easy-to-write headline we are seeing.”
The sub is now optional. If you want to play without a sub, you can do so, albeit with certain restrictions. An unlimited trial is a necessity because there are certain player who will not pay to play and such players create community/content/growth.
If it were as simple as extended the trial to 3 months to persuade such players to start paying, that would be a far more desirable option.
I think the limits on alphas are such that for anyone really looking to play EVE (rather than just learn it) they aren’t going to stay as a free account, so I think the number of people who currently pay that will stop once this program is releases is very minimal, and will be more than offset by the number of people who wouldn’t have subbed if not for the alpha program getting them into the game.
(And not just totally new players either, but also vets who log back in as an alpha, see their alliance doing fun stuff, and getting themselves back in the game. With EVE being as old as it is, that’s a huge pool of players to tab into like this.)