EVE Online, a sci-fi MMO, will be going free-to-play in November. The free-to-play state will be launched through their update, which introduces “clone states.” The states make it so that people with active subscriptions will be able to access more of the game than those without subscriptions.
Now, if someone joins EVE Online and plays for free, they will create an “Alpha State Clone.” This base state clone will be able to train and use a specific set of skills which includes tech one frigates, destroyers and cruisers for the player’s faction. They will also have access to the essential weapons and modules. As Alphas train their skills up though, the rate at which they train is slower than the Omega Clones. They will also not have access to some of the higher level skills. But they will otherwise have access to the game’s features.
Higher-access Omega Clones are only accessible by players with active subscriptions. They will have unlimited skill access, and will basically be exactly like the characters that EVE Online has now. If at any point you decide to let your subscription lapse, your character will revert to an Alpha Clone and your access to your expanded skills will be restricted. You will not lose the progress you made on those skills, so if at any point you decide to reactivate your subscription, you will be given access again to those skills.
As for why they chose to go free-to-play, the developers, CCP, say that is all about giving more people access to the game without the stress of making a decision about a subscription. “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. We knew that if the flood gates 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.”
If you’re interested, the developers go into much more detail to the difference of the clone states in a dev blog on their website. They include a Q&A at the end as well, and invite people to ask questions and give community feedback. CCP says they will be listening closely to the community and trying to make this transition the best possible for everyone involved.