Back in 2010 I wrote a post on the back of some MMOs like Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online going "Free to Play" speculating on how EVE might make the jump as well.
Wild Speculation Time
So if I was an evil soulless marketing demon in charge of turning Eve Online into Eve Online Unlimited (with new and improved space lazors!) and I had the tools listed above available to me, this is how I would do it.
1) Remove subscription fee. People will think they have more money to spend on the game and end up spending more. Plus you bring in hordes of new people eager to try the game out.
2) Give the skills for Tech 1 frigates and weapons away for free, but they still need to train them. This is the free to play basic and allows people to potentially go anywhere and participate in the end game without spending a dime.
3) Take all other skills off the NPC market. Move them to a item shop where they must be purchased in micro-transaction style with "CCPoints". Rank level 1 skills are cheap (e.g. 50 cents), middle skills like battleships around a couple dollars, and the capital skills up to $10. So a character in order to get Tech 1 battleship with tech 1 weapons can do so in about $30-40 dollars (about 3 months of playing time in subscription model) but to get to tech 2 levels requires a lot more money. Training time remain to "gate development".
4) Also in item ship are purchasable skill points (1 million for $20), limited ships that can't be built like the Alliance prizes at premium prices to keep them special (e.g. Freki for $50), decorative items like please yachts, unique anchorable "starbases", special hanger environments, etc etc etc. Some stuff useful in war, others just ornaments.
5) You could even go so far as having alliance level purchases by allowing players to pool CCPoints and buy different station models for outposts, stargate skins to denote borders, etc. Obviously very expensive and no help in alliance warfare. E-peen items on a group scale because its easy to get a few hundred players to throw in a couple bucks each... time and time again.
Then today, there is a dev blog titled "INTRODUCING CLONE STATES AND THE FUTURE OF ACCESS TO EVE ONLINE" in which CCP outlined their plan for moving to a free to play model:
When we launch later this year there will be two clone states available:
- 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. 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.
- The Omega Clone State is obtained by augmenting basic clones using neural expanders and cerebral acceleration technology, granting unlimited skill access. Omega clone state will behave exactly as your subscribed characters do now.
Your clone state will be determined by your account status. Characters on subscribed or PLEXed accounts will be granted Omega state, while Alpha state will be given to characters on any unsubscribed account.So while my idea is not quite exactly what CCP has proposed, it has the same idea: allow people to play for free with a limited set of skills and items, and they have to pay to get access to the more advanced stuff.
The big question is whether or not the game is ready to welcome new players trying it out for free with open arms or loaded guns....