Why Dust for PC and a F2P EVE are more likely than you think


The following article is completely speculative, uninformed by insider information, financial data, or common sense. Reader discretion is advised.

Imagine a future where CCP’s vision for “EVE Forever” has become a reality. Players across EVE Online, Dust514/Legion (hereafter Dust), and Valkyrie share gaming experiences in one universe, on one account, and on one platform – PC.

It’s a beautiful vision, one that’s been alluded to, teased at, and even previewed in trailers as recently as 2014.

Yet the complete silence of CCP regarding its intentions to #portDust514 has kept this dream elusive. And worse, there are many other issues that stand in the way. Monetization discrepancies, player progress, skill point gaps, and the EVE economy all create barriers to the One Universe, One War paradigm.

But as I mentally combed through the laundry list of pitfalls and problems with making a shared EVE universe a reality, I began to realize that almost all of those problems were solved by the introduction of the TNSP – the transneural skill packet. In fact, skill point trading solved so many of these hypothetical issues I began to wonder if perhaps it wasn’t by coincidence… it was by design?

Wait what? You can trade skill points?!

If you haven’t been paying attention lately, TNSPs are a proposed new item that would allow the direct trading of 500k skill points from one capsuleer character to another. They’re highly controversial (I’m not a fan… unless they make this crazy fan theory a reality), but they also have some unique properties that sparked the insane ideas to follow.



  • Skill points are extracted and injected in a free, unallocated state



  • TNSPs can be bought and sold on the open EVE market



  • TNSPs allow SP gain outside of the normal subscription model



  • TNSPs allow lower SP characters to “catch up” to higher SP characters



Perhaps you can already see where I’m going. But if not, let’s take a look at several design barriers that stand in the way of an integrated EVE Universe, and see exactly how the TNSP solves them.

How TNSPs Solve Dust’s Progression Problem

If you’ve never played Dust, you’re probably wholly ignorant of how mercs on the ground earn their skillpoints. Unlike EVE Online players who gain SP via PLEX or subscription (and boost learning rates with attribute implants), Dust players earn passive SP absolutely free. On top of that, they gain active SP for, well, first-person-shooting things (killing people and completing missions). They can also bolster their training rate with stackable learning boosters (which cost Aurum).

Directly porting this system into a persistent EVE Universe would be problematic, to say the least. Suddenly you have two hugely different progression and monetization schema on the same platform. It would be confusing, unintuitive, and needlessly complicated.

Solution: Remove Dust’s passive SP gain and boosters, and introduce TNSP trading.

Suddenly, the system makes a lot more sense. Dust mercs can still progress by doing what they do best – putting bullets into people – but if they want to speed up their learning, they’ll have to buy TNSPs from capsuleers… or other mercenaries. Likewise, new Dusties with more time than ISK could grind out matches and cash out their active SP gains for in-game cash by extracting SP and selling it on a unified EVE market.

Dust EVE

You can already see how the introduction of Dust on PC, in tandem with skill point trading, would spark massive demand for TNSPs… and generate massive revenue for CCP. EVE players previously predicted TNSP demand would fall off after an initial market flood. But with the potential of unlimited F2P Dustbunnies hurting for skill points, there’s no telling how many buyers there would be.

A unified EVE/Dust TNSP market would also solve a few other issues for CCP:



  • CCP could directly port PS3 characters to PC and appease faithful Dust players



  • EVE-to-Dust converts concerned that PS3 players would have a huge SP advantage with ported-over characters now have the option to buy skill points and catch up



  • The entire NPC-driven nature of the Dust economy could be reworked since Dust players could now generate something of value to capsuleers – skill points



  • EVE players will play Dust (regardless of final port quality) to earn SP for free (via active SP gains) and trade/sell it for ISK gains



  • A subscription is still not necessary for Dust to be financially viable



These advantages are, in my opinion, so significant that they must have occurred to someone at CCP at some point or another. This system would allow the company to port Dust with a nearly guaranteed install base of SP-greedy capsuleers while placating the now-restless (but still hopeful) PS3 community. And the company gets to make shitloads of Aurum-fueled cash. It’s win-win-win.

Hell, if CCP wanted they could then add the option of a subscription to Dust, which would reinstate the game’s theoretically axed passive SP progression. Dust mercs could cut down on grind with cash, or perhaps even buy PLEX off the shared marketplace, but they would’ve have to pay to play. Which brings us to the next topic…

This is how EVE could go free to play

So we’ve established it’s possible and potentially profitable to allow PC Dust mercs to play for free. They can shoot all the people they’d like, advancing more quickly via TNSP, PLEX, or a subscription.

So… why couldn’t that optional F2P model apply to EVE Online?

The answer is that, with the magic of TNSPs, the model most certainly can apply to EVE. All CCP would have to do is make the EVE trial permanent and rename it as some kind of entry-level account tier. The company could announce “EVE IS NOW FREE” to the gaming public, and dance with glee as millions of new accounts opened overnight.

There would, of course, have to be one major restriction on free accounts:

An account without active game time cannot be launched simultaneously with other accounts.

This caveat would prevent rampant alt abuse, or at least mitigate it to some degree. It would also maintain a real demand for PLEX and account subscriptions (though the generation of SP for market sale would also do that).

With no way to multibox and no means to gain SP passively, F2P EVE players would be enticed to subscribe or purchase TNSP from other capsuleers and mercenaries. What does this all mean for CCP?



  • Massive influx of players to the shared EVE universe



  • Exponentially higher number of gamers exposed to EVE Online



  • Large revenue potential via TNSP versus manageable server load increases



  • Greater content generation on the ground and in the skies via F2P players



  • Increased social marketing via F2P EVE and Dust streaming



  • Impressive advertising talking points of substantially high player counts



  • The realization of their glorious shared EVE universe!



Jesus, even if CCP was in no way planning to take this insane course of action, I’m starting to believe that maybe, just maybe… they should?


But wait, there’s more!

To ramp speculation up even further, this entire theory works without the introduction of Valkyrie. We know from previous CCP statements that Valkyrie isn’t planned to have gameplay interaction with EVE or Dust at launch. But you can now see that with the commoditization of skill points, it’s possible to tie nearly any EVE property into the shared economy.

Even without any real gunplay between Valkyrie pilots and EVE Online’s drones and fighters, there’s no reason Valkyrie characters couldn’t buy and sell their SP on the same market as capsuleers and mercenaries.

This move would create a semi-stable long-term monetization plan for Valkyrie without having to test a solution from the ground up. And if/when CCP ever does find a way to integrate Valkyrie gameplay with that of EVE and Dust, they’ll have already established meaningful trade between these player bases.

Fuck it; let Gunjack players buy and sell SP. That way CCP could profit off you while you’re making a fool out of yourself during your train commute into the city!

Better rack up those skill points…

As I stated at the beginning of the article, this is all purely speculation. And yet, so many pieces align so conveniently, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a grain of truth in it somewhere.

We won’t know until/unless Dust is actually announced for PC. Hell, we probably won’t know until way after that point, when the final port is nearing launch.

But in the odd, remote, and hugely unlikely chance some of this becomes a reality…

…I told you so.

Tags: dust, EVE Forever, free to play, Gunjack, legion, skillpoint trading, valkyrie, Wingspan TT

About the author

Chance Ravinne

As the CEO of WINGSPAN Delivery Services, Chance Ravinne has committed himself to bringing content (and torpedoes) to unsuspecting pilots throughout New Eden. His uncanny need to jump blindly into new situations has fueled his adventures as a covert ops pilot and all-around stealth bastard. You can follow him pretty much everywhere @WINGSPANTT.

  • I want to believe

    • David Maynor

      Well, if we have 200K active subscribed accounts now (an estimate) how many actually pay money? Many use ISK and let someone else pay real money for their PLEX, but the end result is roughly the same, someone has to pay for it.

      If PLEX goes away for game time, what percentage of people would buy them for skill/character transfers and such? This number, percentage wise, has to be lower.

      However… if the player base goes up 10 fold, so do these other transactions. The question then, would F2P draw enough players so that the desire to PLEX for other uses made CCP more money than the current system?

      As for all the “this game should be hard!” and hatred for any chance to make it approachable to new players by many of the vets… too bad. If it makes financial sense, that’s what CCP should do for the game to survive. For every bitter elitist that leaves, plenty more new F2P players will fill that void and make things more dynamic and interesting overall.

  • Bill Bones
  • Soraya Xel

    I assume that EVE will inevitably need to go free-to-play, and that skill packets are a step towards that. However, I don’t even remotely compute your logic for how this pertains to whether or not DUST will get ported.

    • Altaen

      I think he was saying that without crossgame SP trading, the new PC players would be upset at the SP gap from ported high-SP console players?

      • Soraya Xel

        DUST already has a system for that. It’s called skill boosters. And there’s no guarantee that if the game is ported that SP will transfer 1-to-1.

        • WiNGSPANTT

          No guarantee, but it would be pretty compelling from a trading standpoint

          • Sayod

            Hm that is kind of in line with my thoughts about that. Dust players have to be able to offer something to the eve players, so that trade can take place – although I thought about something else, talked to some guys about that at some point. I’ll post that, just if someone is interested:

            ME > It just hurts that they have two trouble sources and combined they would solve each other. (Dust not being interesting and Structure warfare not being interesting)

            A >They’d have to port Dust to PC to be viable, and my bet is that won’t happen

            ME > they would have to do a lot to make this viable of course but it would be worth it
            they solve two problems with one bat

            A > Aren’t they working on a new FPS?
            I like the idea, regardless
            Not sure Dust is economically viable for the combination but more world interaction would be fantastic

            ME > project legion is completely seperated from the eve server I think, which I don’t like
            It is supposed to be a standalone if I am right

            N > Nope, it should be the Dust.. that uh…
            Wasn’t it the “Dust we actually wanted to do”?
            “But we picked the PS3 for what ever reasons, so it got more crappy than we wanted and offered less”
            (I like the PS3 btw, it’s just not the right platform for that game imo)

            ME > if my memory is right – they want to make it a standalone sandbox shooter game (with emphasis on the sandbox…)

            N > Well I like that they tried to implement it into EVE

            ME> so you make money by looking for relics in an open world and occasionally meet other players you can fight or ally with >.> but no connection to eve online

            which probably means that it will be hard to impossible to sell…
            which hurts my head
            because the one thing that would have been the thing that makes that shooter unique (the connection to eve) was removed entirely, to make it more successful – great idea with all the competition in fps shooters out there

            Instead of strengthening the connection – which they are afraid to do, because if players in eve have to depend on dust players, empty dust servers would hurt eve aswell, so they tried to seperate the risk of the new game from eve. Which doesen’t work in this case because they made it a desaster by avoiding that risk.

            It is kind of an all in or not at all…

            ME > All in would mean, that you have to capture structures in eve with dust players, which means that eve players have to support dust players in that effort
            (with transport runs, boarding maneuvers, bring clone bays and enough biomass with you to have enough respawns for dusties, equipment manufacturing, tactical support strikes…),
            because if they don’t support dust players with that they won’t capture anything. Which in turn means that dust players will have this unique experience of being part of something bigger getting cool orbital strikes and such things, having a connected universe. This would in turn make dust more interesting, which would secure a player base which would make all that work

            ME > BUT: If you don’t get a player base of dust players you jam eve, because then you can’t capture things (without dust players) which is the risk… (edited)

            ME > And ccp doesn’t dare to take that risk…

            ME> But without taking that risk they don’t have a chance anyway because then they don’t have this unique selling point

            ME > which sums up the entire dilemma

            T > “you have to buy a ps3 to be competitive”
            that can only end well

          • Sayod

            ME > you don’t need to if there is a dust player base and if you design a mercenary system that eve players basically pay dust players for working for them

            T > but as we all know
            nobody is as trustworthy as your alt

            ME > which would basically be the matchmaking system – eve players create contracts and dust players take those contracts – if the dust player takes the contract he gets transferred to the clone bay of the assigned boarding ship

            which would mean that dust can be a casual game AND a in depth game because people can just take a contract – finish their business and log off, or they could sign up to an alliance and only fight for them and be part of the metagame

            T > but as we all know
            nobody is as trustworthy as your alt

            ME> you could of course do it with alts – but you can also fly two logis and a dd wing yourself with alts… it works in theory but you will be less effective
            you could also multibox a fleet to structure bash – so where is the difference? if you design it right it would be the exact same

            which would mean that you don’t need a dust alt, but can of course use one

            plus: I didn’t say that dust should be bond to one platform

  • Arkena

    Whilst I’m certainly on your side in hoping for a DUST port, I really have no idea how you’ve quite decided that skill packets is evidence for it.


      It’s not evidence, but it’s a system that would be hugely convenient if Dust PC came to be.

  • JZ909

    I agree with the sentiment about F2P EVE, that actually makes sense, though I think a raw faster training time with a subscription, and the ability to use alts would be better than relying on the sell your brain thing, so you don’t run into supply problems if people don’t want to sell SP.

    When it comes to Dust Bunnies, they already produce something of value: ISK. If there is a demand for suits/weapons etc., people will build them to supply that market.

  • Dirk MacGirk

    I’m still digesting this… That being said, my concern about F2P in Eve has always been related to the eve economy and the ability to leverage alts. By limiting F2P accounts to playing with a single account, that might be what was needed. Although I feel like this is one of those decisions with secondary or tertiary effects to parts of EVE that won’t be witnessed until well after the fact.

  • Razordreamz

    I really hate the skill packet idea. I see where you were going with tying the games together but I feel it cheapens the eve experience. (yes I know character bazzar etc etc…) At least with the bazzar there came trade offs such as not getting to pick your name, or living with someone elses odd choices in where they put there SP, or perhaps they had a shady past you’ve inherited.

  • Eresh

    Sorry to pop one of your bubbles. Multiboxing could still be done, by using multiple boxes (that is, several pcs, real or virtual). So there will still be rampant alt abuse. Want a cloaky harassing local? Fire up that VM and play with your real character on your gaming rig.

    While f2p sounds nice, I think a lot of 150M SP players would stop paying for those accounts (with cash or plex) and play for free. Sure, some unsubbed bittervets might return to the game, but I think the end result is less income for CCP.
    And if f2p were to attract more players, how would that impact the need for hardware? Would it balance out?

    Interesting article, but I sure hope CCP has done a good job of taking everything into account should the scenario in article ever happen.

  • Skarr Tos

    Stop…Youre going to attract the Brazilian hordes of F2P gamers. JAJAJAJAJA

  • Niko Lorenzio

    CCP must have given you some of that good stuff they’re smoking over there. Don’t do drugs kids.

  • Padre

    If EVE goes free to play (I hope not) will the servers be able to handle probably more than a million people? Cant wait for Jita to be in constant TiDi.

  • cypc

    No, please, don’t make EVE F2P, I saw the damages of F2P on SWTOR, it made me quit, I would be very sad to see the same thing happening to EVE.

  • If anything EVE should “Free IF You Deserve It”, it fits the game a lot better than just allowing the next huluberlu enjoy the game for free.

    I like what can be done with the skill packets, but allowing an endlessly free trial is not a good idea imo. But at the same time, expecting a newcomer to be able to get how to make it and be able to play the game for free in a month is not the smartest thing.

    I think a 2-month trial would be what is required under that TNSP model. You would have ample to figure how to win your plex with Packets or whatever way you manage to do it, and if you fail to do so in 2 months, you really ought to either pony up to learn how to, or leave the game as something you are not cut out for.

    This seems like a more “EVE-like” way to do it!

  • Niko Lorenzio

    F2P in Eve would be aa catastrophic mistake.

  • Goor Goor

    Free to Play will happen, the Drifters are coming…

  • adecoy95 .

    is it actually even possible to truly limit free accounts to just 1 per person? you cant limit based on ip address, because proxies, or with software, because virtual machines. bans would be really hard to enforce on a free to play scale as well