CCP Games makes EVE Online free to play with the new EVE Online: Ascension update as it hopes to draw in new players and make the MMO more accessible.
Although it is regarded as one of the best space exploration games available, CCP Games' MMO EVE Online has a reputation of being less than accessible to new players. In addition to being called 'spreadsheets in space,' by some due to its complicated nature, EVE Online also requires a paid subscription, meaning that just as players begin to understand the game, they will have to start paying.
Somewhat solving both of these problems is a new EVE Online updated called EVE Online: Ascension. The update, which rolled out earlier this week, separates players into two 'Clone States': Omega and Alpha. Players in an Omega State are those who pay an EVE Online subscription (around $15 a month), while Alpha clones can play the game for free but have a limited choice of ships and it takes longer to unlock abilities. Alphas can become Omegas, but Omegas who stop paying their subscription fee and become Alphas are unable to access the skills they learned in their Omega State.
The Ascension update also introduces a tutorial called 'Inception.' CCP explains that Inception "will offer new pilots more assistance and guidance than ever before as they take their first steps into the vast expanse of New Eden." The tutorial includes a storyline, fully voiced characters, and a new user interface as well.
Considering how impenetrable the game can be, anything that makes EVE Online easier for new players to learn should be welcomed. While the game has drawn players in with tales of massive EVE Online battles as well as masterful thefts that take months of planning, this is something that so many new recruits don't get to experience. For most, the complex nature of the game turns them off before they get a chance to be part of this action.
Moreover, Ascension should help with CCP's declining figures. Although the company may be making bank with spin-offs such as EVE Valkyrie, which was released earlier this year, its 2015 financial reports suggested that EVE Online subscriber numbers had decreased by 16% and around 340,000 subscribers remain.
There is no guarantee that the new players Ascension brings in will become paid subscribers and that the Inception tutorial will do enough to ease them into the complicated online game, but it is still a bold step from CCP and both the company's accountants and existing EVE Online players will be hoping that it all works out.
Source: EVE Online