CCP announced today the upcoming launch of a pay-to-play option to help new players get embedded in the game more quickly. Called “Expert Systems,” it will allow players to temporarily buy trained skills in the EVE store. These skills (not skill points) will be applied to a character and usable for all in-game activities until their expiration, at which time they can be purchased again, or added normally to the skill queue.
New player retention has been a long-running challenge for CCP and the EVE community more broadly. EVE is hard, the learning curve is steep, and the skills that make a new player able to fly ships, participate in fleets, and earn ISK all take time to train. Improving new player retention by letting new players temporarily experience aspects of the game that otherwise might take weeks or months to train is the stated goal of this new feature.
CCP said that with “over 1.3 million distinct human beings (not counting alts!) trying EVE Online for the first time in 2020, helping new players find their footing in New Eden remains one of the most important projects for the game.” They added that feedback from new and veteran players alike has “regularly referred to the complex nature of deciding what path to tread at the start of one’s New Eden adventure. Expert Systems will provide a solution for players who want to try a profession without committing fully to the skill training it will require – whilst not undercutting the value of skill training, Skill Points and Skill Injectors.”
In their announcement, CCP highlighted a number of critical aspect of this new system:
- Trained skills will be available for purchase through this system, not skill points.
- Groups of related skills – not individual skills – will be available for purchase, and CCP will define these groupings (“Expert Systems”) to focus on skills valuable to new players (such as core spaceship operation or basic mining skills).
- Trained skills purchased through this system will be temporary and need to be either trained normally or continually re-purchased for a player to maintain access to them.
- A player’s skill queue will operate as normal while they have an Expert System applied. They will be able to queue and train skills, including the skills in the Expert System, normally.
- Expert System skills persist through death, like accelerators.
Whether this feature and the Expert Systems available will continue to be focused solely on new players, as CCP has said in their announcement, remains to be seen. The EVE community can only hope so.