Your New Clone is ReadyInferius Ellecon
It’s been sometime since Alpha clone states were introduced into the game. Upon initial conception of the Alpha concept, many in the community had mixed feelings regarding the Alphas.
Critiques like “so cyno alts will be rampant now” were at the forefront of the skeptic’s mind among other arguments. After more details came out, the uproar calmed, and now in implemented practice, Alphas have turned into a positive change for EVE. With the recent news of the “redesigning” of PLEX, the potential for Alphas to evolve can grow immensely.
In its current state PLEX exists as whole objects, where one PLEX is equivalent to 30 days of game time (or about 1.2 billion ISK). But the changes recently announced would remove Aurum but also fractionalize PLEX. In the proposed changes, PLEX wouldn’t be a whole object like we know it now, but it would be more in line of a currency system, so 30 days of game time would now be equivalent to 500 PLEX under the renewed system. In addition to this, products in the current Aurum store would now be purchasable by amounts of PLEX.
Player retention has always been an issue for EVE Online: a steep learning cliff, a lackluster new player experience that persisted for years and the amount of time one has to try and play the game. The ability to pay for your subscription with an in-game item enticed many, but was teased as if they were a rabbit chasing a carrot that will forever be in front of them. The argument has always been had as to whether or not PLEX price was too steep for the short amount of time one was able to swing for a 14 or 21 day trial character, and overall, the answer is a resounding yes.
When factoring in with the ever increasing in-game cost of PLEX, it was exceedingly difficult for a trial character to gain enough ISK to continue their playtime. Alpha clones successfully alleviated this issue, allowing players to play the game for as long as they want, but severely limited what skills they can use. This allows them enough time to get the basic “feel” for the game, something that can take beyond 21 days, and allows themselves to plan and set up a system to make enough money to consistently PLEX their account. With the proposed PLEX changes (deemed nuPLEX), PLEX is taking a step in the granular direction.
Luckily, CCP has stated that one would never be able to pay for partial game time. 30 days remains the minimum one could ever renew their subscription, and that’s a very good thing, preventing the dreaded “cyno alts”. In this sense, nuPLEX will not allow game time to be ‘broken up’, but in it lies the opportunity to expand upon the Alpha clone program. It’s been established that 500 nuPLEX will equal an Omega clone, but what about all the other increments of nuPLEX one may receive, especially considering if they’re not interested in the cosmetic items in the nuPLEX store?
Imagine a Beta clone. Very similar to an Alpha, but has the benefit of being able to train into a second race’s skillset. They would still have all of the other limitations of an Alpha clone, but can now fly another set of ships for the low price of just 100 nuPLEX for 30 days of access to this clone level. Next, a Gamma clone. Exact same concept as a Beta clone, but with a third race’s ships opened up to them, for 200 nuPLEX. Then, taking the concept even further, a Delta clone, same rules as above, for 300 nuPLEX.
The jump between 300 to 500 nuPLEX is more significant, but as is the jump between a Delta clone to Omega clone. An Omega clone still has significantly more benefits than a Delta clone. Things like increased skill que, the plethora of skills that open up to them even with being able to fly all four racial trees, CSM voting rights, Tech II, the list goes on. This concept of incremental clones can be taken a lot farther than just listed here. This has significant benefits from a gameplay perspective as well.
One of the turnoffs for new players of EVE has always been the sheer amount of information needing to be digested to have just a decent grasp of the game. With the idea of increments for a character, this digestion happens more over time. As they play the game more and more to get enough money for nuPLEX to get to the next increment, they are ready to digest the next batch of skills available to them, as opposed to instantly being faced with 27 years worth of skills needing to be parsed through.
When skill injectors first came to the front, the concept of “player growth over time” was presented as a vital but often overlooked gameplay aspect of EVE. The notion was that of seeing your character skill up over time being a very crucial part of the player’s experience, and it was feared that skill injectors would screw up this system. While that turned out to not be the case, skill injectors overall having been a positive change, this often overlooked aspect of a new player’s experience can be re-strengthened with the introduction of incremental clones.
Another positive point is that it will allow a new player to experience more variety and capability then just an alpha clone would. Being able to fly another racial shipline will allow the player to decide which race they may wish to focus on training into as soon as they pull the trigger and become an Omega. This can also allow an Alpha to better fit into their corp. Granted, a lot of corps have doctrines that are lenient towards whatever races Alphas are, but this concept of incremental clones can help the new player fit in better, and statistics have been shown that if a new player gets more and more engaged in a player corp or alliance, they are almost guaranteed to stay with the game. There also stands to be a massive business gain for CCP with this program. CCP could introduce various clone level subscription costs for real money leading up to the Omega status. Maybe even offer a discount for the first month or so of Omega status if one had been on a lower clone level recurring plan.
It can be argued that one would be more inclined to pay a monthly subscription cost of say 5 USD to try out the game at just a slightly more advanced level to see if it’s really worth paying the additional cost of becoming an Omega.
There is the fine line over how much is too much with this system, however. One could argue that a player would have less incentive to become an Omega if they had more and more features unlocked to them. This is not an invalid argument. The system would still have to feel limited enough to make the upgrade to Omega worth it for them.
While, granted, being able to pilot pirate frigates and cruisers would be a great new feature for an upgraded clone, things like skills beyond cruisers, Tech 2 modules, and the relatively sped up skill queue is still very enticing. If a player is content with where their clone is at now, then that’s fine. As long as they still enjoy the game and feel they are happy in the place they are in, that is a good thing. The issue this aims to remedy is primarily new player retention. If the player is still playing EVE, then this program has succeeded, no matter what clone state they may be in.
EVE has often struggled with new players. Although the NPE has been redone a few times over the years, none of them have ever quite hit the mark quite like the current one has. Hopefully the improved NPE detailed at Fanfest will further add to the solution CCP has been looking for. EVE needs to be as friendly to new players as possible, and allowing them to get more and more involved with the game over time could work wonders for a new player experience. Alphas were a great starting point to aid the NPE, but that idea can be expanded upon to have even more benefits.
CCP will have the perfect system to do this with their overhaul of PLEX.