At EVE Vegas 2017, CCP have announced a new plan for the December “Lifeblood” expansion that could massively shift the balance of power between Omega and Alpha accounts in EVE Online. For the uninitiated, Alpha accounts in EVE Online are the free infinite trial CCP added back in 2016. They’re abilities were limited to a selection of Tier 1 ships and equipment while their access to industry and specialized skills like cynos were removed. This meant that instead of people sticking to free accounts, they either upgraded or quit altogether.
But in December that’s all going to change as CCP are expanding the pool of available skills that Alpha accounts will have access to. They still won’t be able to use cynos, engage in most industry, use chemical boosts or overheating; but these new clones will be much more viable in NullSec as part of certain fleet doctrines.
The upgraded alpha clone accounts will have access to over 20 million skill points worth of skills but will still train at half the speed of an Omega player. In a confusing twist for new players, alpha skill training will pause once you reach 5 million skill points and you’ll have to either subscribe or use skill injectors to progress beyond that. Once the skills are trained, however, you’ll still be able to use them indefinitely when in an alpha state. CCP also hinted that new boosters may be added to the store to enable training beyond the 5 million mark or increase training speed to that of an omega character, but they haven’t confirmed this yet. What this means is that there may be a lot of players who PLEX their Alpha accounts once or twice to train these new skills, meaning more revenue for CCP.
Some concerned players have voiced their opinion that EVE should add specialized skill packages to allow Alpha clones paid access to things like Mining Barges and specialized equipment. This could be a good way to shore up lost revenue from Omega accounts that lapse. Although it guarantees only a short-term revenue burst and not the longer term growth that subscribers do. Although some have suggested including this feature as a cheap, but limited time option. Then this potential new boost comes across like a paid incentive to subscribe as it would always be more cost-effective to upgrade versus purchase the boost.
These changes also come with the potential for additional abuse that CCP will have to keep an eye on. Gank Brutixes with tech 2 guns and ammo can deal an incredible amount of damage with a relatively small investment of ISK and training time, for example, so we can expect freighter suicide ganks to rise following this change. There is a substantial time investment to get an Alpha account to the cap, so newer players won’t see these changes for some time. But there are a lot of veteran players, myself included, with multiple old accounts that have most of the new skills trained already. So instead of these lapsed accounts not logging in too often, some players may finally return to the game as Alphas. Although it’s also possible that players will let their lesser Omega accounts lapse in order to save money.
Although the Omega players will still have a much easier time flying faction ships than Alphas, so the most efficient use of these skills still lies with Omega accounts. As always in games with these F2P options, it’s a cost to benefit decision that each player has to make. And while
But conjecture about new monetization models and player behavior aside, this feature is bound to excite more casual players in New Eden. Lets hope CCP listens to the player feedback they’re no doubt getting by the truckload at EVE Vegas and adjusts these changes so that they succeed on all levels.