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Star Trek Online Going F2P Later This Year

By - Source: Seking Alpha | B 23 comments

Now that Perfect World Co has its hands on Cryptic's Star Trek Online MMORPG, the company plans to launch a free-to-play model by the end of the year. Engage!

During Perfect World's Q2 2011 earnings conference call in late August, company CEO Kelvin Lau revealed plans to turn Star Trek Online into a free-to-pay MMORPG by the end of the year. The news arrives after Perfect World Co. Ltd' and Atari entered into an agreement whereby Perfect World would acquire 100-percent equity interest in California-based Cryptic Studios.

"Under the stock purchase agreement, Perfect World will pay an aggregate purchase price of approximately €35.0 million in cash, subject to working capital and other adjustments as provided in the agreement," Atari stated back on May 31. "The consummation of the transactions contemplated in the agreement is subject to satisfaction of closing conditions."

Perfect World CEO Kelvin Lau actually didn't reveal the company's plans for Star Trek Online until a Q&A session after the initial Q2 2011 results presentation. "Star Trek Online, after the acquisition, in fact Cryptic is working on the free-to-play model for Star Trek Online," he said. "This is going to be launched by the end of this year as well. So I think free-to-play model we have a bigger potential in US market and also in China market."

Is this a sign that Star Trek Online is having trouble staying afloat? Not really. Other than Blizzard's World of Warcraft which recently launched an "unlimited demo," many popular MMORPGs have shifted over to the free-to-play model including Dungeons & Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan and even EverQuest 2 (Extended). Blizzard in fact seems to be the only one not swaying with the market shift.

Still, Star Trek Online has seen its share of controversy. The game was initially developed by Perpetual Entertainment from 2004 to January 2008 when the studio filed for bankruptcy. Under an agreement with Cryptic Studios, Perpetual kept the initial code and its proprietary Perpetual Game Engine, and Cryptic acquired the license to develop the MMOG and all assets created prior to the agreement. Cryptic revealed itself as the new developer later on in August, and then launched the game via Atari in February 2010.

For those who like keeping up with the Star Trek canon, the MMORPG is a virtual non-canon continuation of the Next Generation "prime" era, taking place thirty years after Captain Jean-Luc Picard faced his clone, Praetor Shinzon, in Star Trek: Nemesis (X). According to the Star Trek Online website, the events that take place during the "prime" timeline in J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek (XI) movie – the destruction of Romulus and the disappearance of Spock and Nero – have actually affected STO.

That said, fans who have thrived on the "prime" Star Trek timeline that stretches from the very first Star Trek pilot (1966) to the moment just before Spock and Nero enter the black hole (2009) may get some sort of satisfaction mingling with the Borg and Ferengi in a first-person perspective – and soon for free.

Engage!

Discuss
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  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , September 2, 2011 8:31 AM
    trekker here today.
  • 1 Hide
    fonzy , September 2, 2011 8:33 AM
    I couldn't get into ST online, I don't know how much it has change since I stop playing it but I thought it was boring and didn't feel like a star trek game. I'm more excited for ST Excalibur(free) it won't be an MMO but the Visuals look awesome.
  • -1 Hide
    cinergy , September 2, 2011 9:30 AM
    And also going to P2P.
  • -1 Hide
    deksman , September 2, 2011 9:57 AM
    I was playing the beta version of ST: Online, but I have to admit that the developers indeed made improvements to the game since it's official launch (a bit overdue to be honest because all of this should have been present back then).

    I was contemplating on getting the game because I like Star Trek a lot, however, to be honest, I don't particularly like MMO's because they are bland for the most part (plus I prefer Singe Player games), more of the same, and the monthly paying model is not my cup of tea (that's a big turn-off).

    If it goes F2P then I might pick it up to see what extra changes were made.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 2, 2011 11:09 AM
    Free to play? What about those who have bought the life time subscription of have been ther since the start of the game? I sure hope they do something for us.
  • 2 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 2, 2011 12:27 PM
    DerkfettFree to play? What about those who have bought the life time subscription of have been ther since the start of the game? I sure hope they do something for us.

    Sure, they will say a prayer to Jesus for you, sucker!
  • 0 Hide
    __Miguel_ , September 2, 2011 12:46 PM
    DerkfettFree to play? What about those who have bought the life time subscription of have been ther since the start of the game? I sure hope they do something for us.

    Well, in those cases there are usually advantages for paying customers. F2P doesn't mean they'll drop subscriptions altogether.

    For example, they can provide paying customers with extra perks, like exclusive items or abilities, or early access to new game content. City of Heroes is already pointing that way, check it out.

    My guess is they'll be (ab)using publicity on the free accounts, and also use them as "jump points" to paying customers. Something similar (not the same, obviously, but same principle) to Facebook games: they are free to play, but once you get hooked, you'll be more inclined to make micro-payments (or, in this case, a paying subscriber).

    Cheers.

    Miguel
  • -1 Hide
    bin1127 , September 2, 2011 1:58 PM
    Well you can beam Me up Scotty.
  • -1 Hide
    figgus , September 2, 2011 2:03 PM
    bin1127Well you can beam Me up Scotty.


    "Snotty beamed me TWICE yesterday. It was wonderful."

    Hope I didn't mangle that too much...
  • -1 Hide
    liquidchild , September 2, 2011 2:44 PM
    Wheatonnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!
  • 2 Hide
    samely , September 2, 2011 2:59 PM
    __Miguel_Well, in those cases there are usually advantages for paying customers. F2P doesn't mean they'll drop subscriptions altogether.For example, they can provide paying customers with extra perks, like exclusive items or abilities, or early access to new game content. City of Heroes is already pointing that way, check it out.My guess is they'll be (ab)using publicity on the free accounts, and also use them as "jump points" to paying customers. Something similar (not the same, obviously, but same principle) to Facebook games: they are free to play, but once you get hooked, you'll be more inclined to make micro-payments (or, in this case, a paying subscriber).Cheers.Miguel

    This is exactly right. It's a hybrid model, and most F2P games actually go this way.
  • 1 Hide
    jednx01 , September 2, 2011 3:20 PM
    I might actually give this a shot if it goes F2P. I always wanted to try this game, but I really dislike paying monthly subscriptions....
  • 1 Hide
    ksharp25 , September 2, 2011 4:48 PM
    I'll pick it back up....providing their F2P is NOT like the Everquest II Extended F2P model. Often times F2P means you dont get access to your server, character, or items you had as a former subscriber. You cant even use the same installed client. You have to download a whole new client, start characters over, and live in a world "separate" from subscribing players. When I learned EQ2 went F2P I got all excited about logging back in and picking up on my Paladin where I left off...only to see...no. Had to download a new client, roll a new character and play on special "f2P servers" separate from the others. This made it a very limited exp with a very limited community of other players.

    So I am stoked about STO going F2P..IF and ONLY IF I get to launch my already installed client, hop back on the characters I already made and continue on playing with the rest of the universe as it was only now without subscribing monthly. If I have to re-roll all new characters on servers just designated F2P locking me off from my old friends and contacts in game...no thank you.
  • 1 Hide
    ShigMan , September 2, 2011 4:57 PM
    As long as Perfect World Entertainment doesnt mangle this game with "Chance Box" microtransactions that provide a 0.0001% chance of payoff, and lock all the decent items, i.e. anything that cost Cryptic Points in the old model inside, this game might be viable as a F2P. I would be upset if the "chance box" makes it into this game, that thing is a blight on F2P games.
  • 1 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , September 2, 2011 6:29 PM
    Quote:
    This is exactly right. It's a hybrid model, and most F2P games actually go this way.

    It's why I avoid F2P games. They start out free, but the only way to advance and enjoy the game is to make the micro-payments to buy the stuff you need. To me its more annoying than simply paying a monthly subscription.
  • -1 Hide
    __Miguel_ , September 2, 2011 7:45 PM
    GreaseMonkey_62It's why I avoid F2P games. They start out free, but the only way to advance and enjoy the game is to make the micro-payments to buy the stuff you need. To me its more annoying than simply paying a monthly subscription.

    AFAIK, micro-payments are more likely to happen on games like those over on FB. They know those are rather casual games, you don't (or shouldn't... lol) spend hours playing them.

    MMORPGs, on the other hand, are more time-consuming, and the subscription model tends to work better on them (you know, having to pay over and over again on a long play-through would quickly find people looking at their wallets... ;) ), which is why I believe this one will be subscription-based, not micro-payment.

    I sure hope they'll open up the whole world, though... I just tried LEGO Universe (LEGO fan!), and just as I was advancing to the "decent" stuff, you know, right after the tutorial part (still, about two hours worth of gaming), it goes and tells me "Wait, you have to become a member (read: pay) to access the rest of the game"... I can live with restricted options (like less XP gain, no access to rare stuff or perks), but confining me to a single block of land... Why? Hopefully STO will not make that mistake...

    Cheers.

    Miguel
  • -3 Hide
    Darkerson , September 2, 2011 11:25 PM
    Free does not a good game make :p 
  • 0 Hide
    proxy711 , September 3, 2011 2:10 AM
    F2P where MMOs go to die slightly slower.
  • 0 Hide
    upgrade_1977 , September 3, 2011 3:11 AM
    So sick of micro transactions ruining games. Creating a vurtual world which parallels the sad reality of the real world where rich have the advantage and poor are screwed.
  • 0 Hide
    NuclearShadow , September 3, 2011 10:09 AM
    Beta tested it, was decent and fun when it came to space combat.
    Land combat was dreadful. They also had annoying exploration missions which were basically land on a planet, walk around to scan a few things and then beam back up with no combat or challenge involved. I wish I was making that last part up but I truly am not.

    I would only play again if they did a major overhaul when comes to the land missions and combat but I severely doubt they did. If I was part of the development team I would leave STO out of my resume because of how shameful this major aspect of the game turned out.
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