EVE:Still not actually F2P, but feel free to be lazy

Today the unlimited trial accounts hit EVE. Or, if you just like using terms without actually considering meaning behind the words (Hi P2W), EVE is now ‘free to play’. Lets talk about that shall we?

A simple question first. Can you name a single MMO that has done the F2P conversion and had zero impact to current subscribers? Because that’s the case today in EVE. If you subbed yesterday, today the game is the same in terms of what you are getting for your $15. There isn’t a new shop. There aren’t ‘money only’ features today that weren’t there yesterday. At most now certain items have a yellow border indicating they require an Omega (paying) pilot to use, and while I’m sure someone will bitch about that (because regardless of what you change, you can always find one person to bitch on the internet), its so minor its almost not worth bringing up.

Another reason why I don’t view this as a F2P conversion is that alpha (free) accounts aren’t just slower accounts that can eventually do everything; they are hard-limited to what they can do. Very hard limited in fact. So much so that anyone who gets into the game and likes it will very likely end up paying a sub. How many F2P MMOs is that not the case? How many can you go free and see most of the game and do most things, if annoyingly slow or under pop-up hell? In EVE a free account will NEVER get past the hard limits set on skills, and that restricts you to perhaps 10% of ships in EVE.

Which isn’t to say that alpha accounts are useless, or that someone using an alpha account can’t have fun. Far from it actually. Because while skill and item usage is limited, where you can go is not, so an alpha can head out to null and become a member of a major power, or into low-sec and do some budget pirating. They can still get most of the high-sec experience of mining or mission running to work your way up, at least up as high as the alpha will allow. And you can do all of that at your own pace, without a price or timer ticking down, which I think is especially important in EVE, where the ramp up is a bitch and ‘getting it’ can take a long time.

Will this save EVE? No, because EVE didn’t need saving, it was doing more than fine (see CCP financial statements). Will it help? I think it will. I think that number of 90% or so players trying EVE but quitting will go down. Even if it goes down to 80% quitting almost instantly, that’s a lot more people sticking with it now than before. All at basically zero cost/harm to current players (and the gain of more new pilots to play with/against).

Important note: The initial question is limited to MMOs. There are plenty of games that are F2P that are fair or solid (LoL, CoC, etc), but that’s simply not the case in the MMO space. Either EVE is the first, or EVE isn’t really ‘F2P’ now.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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12 Responses to EVE:Still not actually F2P, but feel free to be lazy

  1. bhagpuss says:

    Have people been criticizing the conversion? I was under the impression it was generally reckoned to be A Good Thing but you sound like your defending it against some kind of attack.

    As for what it is, it’s Freemium, clearly: a limited F2P offer with a subscription upgrade. Most of the non-Imported and/or ex-sub conversions are Freemium not F2P.

    • Anonymous says:

      Looks like a preemptive strike against arguments like “But Syncline, didn’t you say F2P are the MMO minor leagues, or where crappy MMOs that can’t justify a sub go to die? If Eve is now F2P, does it mean it’s crap now?”

      • SynCaine says:

        Sorta. Usually when an MMO goes F2P, the experience for everyone changes drastically (LotRO, DDO, EQ2, Rift). Or the MMO is outright flawed because of the business model from day one (AA). That doesn’t apply to EVE, and as was my question, I can’t think of another MMO where that was/is the case, so its a bit silly to use the same term, both from a game design perspective and from a business model perspective. For both, CCP is still focused on getting as many people to pay $15 a month as they can, rather than funnel people into a shop or create a system to catch whales.

  2. Esteban says:

    EVE may not need ‘saving’, exactly, but peak-concurrent-users has been going down for a while, and this move is clearly related. My own test for whether allowing free play is promotional or ‘true F2P’ is very simply whether or not the free players are a direct source of revenue, e.g. by allowing them to buy feature access piecemeal in a shop to enhance their experience. EVE does not do that, so it’s more like the WoW level-20 trial than anything. It’s a good thing.

    That said, the slide down the slippery slope takes a while. Even LotRO started out almost fulfilling your two criteria back when Kate Paiz first took over: the game was unaffected for subscribers, and it was almost impossible for a F2P user to access large segments of quest content without buying points; I write ‘almost’ because of course there were people who ground deeds for 100-hours a pop on throwaway alts to buy content packs. So did Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World, with content locked inside DLCsfor free players and a full sub option with access to everything but some fluff exactly as before.

    We’ll have to see how Alpha state players get monetised down the road.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’d be very surprised if down the road there is a direct monetization change to alpha pilots.

      As for peak concurrency, I think most of the drop can be attributed to bot bans and changes to alts. With the longer skill queue, people don’t need to log into alts as much, and bot bans obviously have the biggest impact on concurrency (bots are online 24/7). I say this because in terms of the money coming in, its more than fine, and while some of that is boosted by the fluff shop, the larger factor IMO is the fact that the number of paying accounts hasn’t dropped nearly as much as the daily concurrency number.

  3. Anti-Stupidity League says:

    tl;dr – Eve: definitely a better F2P game than Hearthstone.

    Did I get that right?

  4. Kyff says:

    I think it’s way too early to draw any conclusions on account conversion or the effect on general population. However I can say that I let my three accounts lapse because I was shifting to something new (or something old: DF New Dawn) and now I’m quite happy that I can fill up some skills I neglected so far for free. So if I eventually return my pilots will be marginally better without any input from my side.

  5. Jenks says:

    In response to the 3rd paragrah: WoW

    It seems to me that a F2P player will have a much better time in EVE than WoW because a low level hard capped player can contribute to high level engagements, whereas in WoW that is not the case at all. But of all the arguments you raise in that paragraph for EVE’s F2P: not affecting the current base, no annoying pop ups, not being able to use all the ships, all those things also apply to WoW’s F2P.

  6. coppertopper says:

    Something tells me there is a big ‘YET’ attached to their ftp experiment and all the positive spin you are trying to put on it. They already have a cash shop (need I rehash the $75 monicle avatar item drama), you can buy in game currency, and you can buy in game skill points – seriously this move is only to make money. Do you naively believe that ships will not soon be for sale as well? This is 95% a ftp conversion.

    • SynCaine says:

      Ships won’t be, nor will any non-fluff item, as that goes against the core design principle they have held for 10+ years now.

      You also can’t buy in-game currency created by the devs, only exchanged with players. Same for skill points; CCP has never created a single skill point for sale, only players have. Those seem like technicalities at first, but if you give it more thought, you will realize what a massive impact it has on the game, and why EVE has by far (and no one else is remotely close) the best in-game economy in the MMO space (or all of gaming for that matter).

      The move is to make money, of course, but the way they are going to make more money is due to more people subscribing, which is going to happen.

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