Roughly six months ago, CCP introduced the Clone State system with EVE Online's Ascension expansion, effectively making the sci-fi MMORPG free-to-play.
Now, CCP's Executive Producer Andie Nordgren looked back to this significant change in an interview published on PC Gamer's July magazine (issue #306), saying that she's proud of how this business model was added to the game.
Absolutely, in many, many ways. I am very proud of how we have done it. I put a lot of my own personal care into it, and we put our trust within the community on the line. We thought a lot about how to design it, but also how to communicate to people about how it all works. In general, the community reception has been really good. It helped that we told people so early and were able to bring players into the feedback process.
I have to pinch myself sometimes. Did we really pull this off? Did we really do this to EVE Online and have the community go along with it? I think it's because we did it with so much respect for the players. EVE Online used to have a 14-day free trial, which I never felt was a significant enough amount of time to get into such a complex game. The hard subscription wall was something that we had to deal with. Once your trial ran out, you couldn't even log back into the game and try again.
If you wanted your character and ship back, you had to pay the monthly subscription fee. Now expectations for online games have changed so much. There are so many games to play out there.
There are so many games to play out there, and the old two-week trial period just wasn't enough for players to get into EVE. It's not a game that many people just decide to play. There are people who signed up for multiple trials with multiple accounts, and it took a while for them to get stuck in. I think that's because EVE is more like a hobby than a traditional game. You might try cycling or golfing and you won't immediately jump straight into it.
Your friend might bring you along, then later, if you like it, you might consider buying your own bike or racket. It's a slow process but now, thanks to the free-to-play model, people finally have that time.
Nordgren also said that solo play is still important to CCP since players shouldn't feel obligated to join a corporation and stay on comms all the time.
It should be possible to engage with this world on your own terms. It shouldn't be a mandate to be on comms with other players to play EVE Online. You shouldn't be required to join a corporation. There's still an important solo aspect to EVE. It's not a single-player game, you're still surrounded by other people. But if you are a market trader or mission runner, you're interacting with people in a different way than you would playing with a group of people. But we're not looking to focus on corporation play at the expense of solo pilots.
Not much is known on the next EVE Online expansion, other than it will launch in Winter 2017 and be focused on Empire space.