Terrible Ideas: Capsuleer Candidates – Taking EVE F2P

December 3, 2012
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We all know from their experiments with micro-transactions in Incarna and DUST that CCP wants the profits that can come with the F2P or hybrid business model. Their first attempts to bring micro-transactions to EVE had less-than-stellar results, while DUST is being built for F2P and MT from the ground up, but has not yet been officially released in the marketplace.

At the same time, there is a fair bit of discussion over the fact that a two or even three week trial period may not be really enough to let people find out if they like EVE or not, despite all the effort being put in to improve the New Player Experience.

Personally, I think these issues can resolve each other, and I'll explain how.

New Players Shouldn't Be On Trial

Let's do away with the concept of Trial Accounts; instead, the distinction will be between capsuleers (subscribed accounts) and capsuleer candidates (F2P accounts).

Instead of being capsuleers from the moment they finish character creation, new characters would instead be capsuleer candidates – people with the potential to become capsuleers, and even some of the same cybernetic enhancements, but not all of them. They would learn skills and control their ships in the same way as a capsuleer, but they would not be able to plug in additional implants to accelerate their training or squeeze additional performance from a ship; nor would they be as immortal as a true capsuleer.

"Not As Immortal"

What does that phrase even mean? Well, in this context, it means that candidates wouldn't have an infinite supply of medical clones to respawn into. A candidate would start play with free, 900k-skill-point medical clones. Clones with higher SP limits could be bought with isk or AURUM, with costs escalating the more SP is retained; clones bought with isk would be one-use, whereas clones bought with AURUM would be good forever – or at least until a bigger clone is needed.

(While we're on the subject, let's change up capsuleer clones a little – full capsuleers no longer have to update medical clones to hold more skill points, but instead your medical and jump clones have recurring maintenance costs which can be modified based on your standings with the corps that own the cloning facilities.)

Candidate Skills

There are some limits I would place on what skills candidates would be allowed to learn; overall, the list of skills that can be trained on current Trial Accounts seems like a sensible thing to carry over, with only a few changes.

  1. Skills related to T3 ships and subsystems, capital modules, and T2 modules(1) should not be learnable by default for candidate accounts.
  2. The [Racial] Industrial, ORE Industrial, and Mining Barge(2) skills should be learnable for candidate accounts.
  3. Infomorph Psychology should not be learnable for candidate accounts under any circumstances.

Special candidate-allowed skillbooks might be made available for purchase with AURUM to allow candidates to circumvent some of the limitations associated with their type of account – [Racial] Battlecruiser and Battleship skills spring immediately to mind, along with skillbooks for T2 weapons and perhaps some T2 ship types.

Capsuleer Conversion

The obvious thing to offer to let candidates buy with Aurum is a conversion to a subscribed capsuleer account. This brings a little bit of complexity with it – what happens if they subsequently let their subscription lapse, but want to go back to playing in F2P mode? I don't have a certain answer; my inclination is to just let them do it – cancel their clone contracts, deny them access to any jump clones they may have, and restrict them from learning any new skills that would not be available to F2P accounts – but I have no idea how technically feasible that would be.

Buddy Invites

If there will no longer be such a thing as Trial Accounts, what happens with the Buddy Invite System? We should certainly continue to encourage players to recruit from their friends and family, and offer material benefit to those who are recruited that way, but with candidates being a F2P option without a time limit, some adjustments would obviously have to be made.

For the invitee, I think the answer is to start them off with a moderate stock of Aurum from the moment they start the game; and the inviter might receive a PLEX the first time the invitee buys more Aurum.

 

So, that's how I think CCP might be able to move EVE to a hybrid P2P/F2P model without ruining everything forever, while also giving new players more time to get hooked on EVE. What do you think?


(1) I'm speaking here of skills like Medium Blaster Specialization and Amarr Drone Specialization – skills that the T2 versions require on top of a high level in the skill for the T1 version.
(2) I still say that Mining Barge should be folded into ORE Industrial and based off the soon-to-be Mining Frigate skill (which would be renamed to ORE Frigate).

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2 Responses to Terrible Ideas: Capsuleer Candidates – Taking EVE F2P

  1. Malcanis on December 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

    So what's to stop me from creating endless free mining accounts and botting the everliving hell out of them to the maximum extent that my hardware can support? All I'll lose from an account ban is a Retriever and the cost of a few skillbooks; if my bots get away with mining for a single day, I'll come out way ahead

  2. Anshu Zephyran on December 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    That's an aspect I hadn't considered, but it's easy enough to make it a less attractive option by moving the Mining Barge skill back behind a paywall, and setting the AUR price of the book to just a bit more than the amount you get for being Buddy Invited. It won't stop the truly determined, especially if the ability to transfer AUR from character to character is ever implemented, but it would hopefully provide enough of a roadblock for CCP's other anti-bot measures to continue managing the problem.