As developer CCP announced today via a new dev blog, from this November onward EVE Online—one of out there—will let players fly around for free using limited characters. Those who wish to continue on as normal subscribers can—existing accounts will remain, but the current trial account system will be axed alongside the imminent November expansion.
New “clone states” separate free and paying players. Characters can assume alpha clone status for free. This is essentially the new base state and will be “available to any character in New Eden at any time.” Alpha state clones will be able to explore and trade as they desire, however will be limited to specific ships including tech one Frigates, Destroyers, and Cruisers. Alphas will also train skills “at a reduced rate” compared to their Omega counterparts.
Omega clones, on the other hand, will “behave exactly as your subscribed characters do now.” Omega clones who stop subscribing will see their character revert to an alpha state, with access to alpha state ships and skills. If they subsequently resubscribe, the character's advanced omega benefits return. Here's CCP Seagull offering a more in-depth look at clone states:
Further information can be gleaned via the dev blog. The gist is that CCP hopes to introduce new players to EVE Online without disturbing the universe as it stands today.
“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,” reads the post. “We knew that if the floodgates 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 Online is a game which boasts many fascinating stories, therefore perhaps we can expect even more via this more accessible model. In any event, free accounts will be available from November onward, and players seeking access to advanced skills will continue to require a subscription.