Frigates in EVE Online. The long-running science fiction MMO has announced that it will become free to play in November. Image Credit: CCP

DUBAI: Venerable space combat and trading MMO EVE Online is to become free to play in November.

Free accounts will have access to a limited set of commonly used ships and skills, and may be upgraded to paid subscriptions to gain full access to the game, according to an announcement by Team Size Matters on the game’s developer blog.

Existing inactive accounts will automatically be moved to free accounts. CCP expect a number of former players to return to the game, according to the blog post.

If subscriptions expire, accounts will be downgraded to free access. Players will be allowed to safely dock any ships they can no longer use, but will not be able to undock them without resubscribing to a paid account.

“Part of our vision for the future of EVE has included more open access for some time, but with the interconnected nature of the game comes vulnerability,” the blog said. “We knew that if the flood gates were opened in the wrong way, we could see anything from server meltdowns to the collapse of the EVE economy. Over time, our hardware has improved, code has been untangled (mostly!) and we’ve found a design we believe in.

“EVE is ready for this.”

In game, the difference in accounts is explained by the existence of two types of clones flying starships - Alpha Clones (free accounts) and Omega Clones (paid accounts).

Players will not be able to tell which kind of clone or account other players are using, for fear it would give a strategic advantage.

CCP say they will monitor the new system and are able to make changes if it does not work as expected.