Late Wednesday evening, new information about Star Trek Online came to light during a Q&A session between investors and Perfect World Entertainment's CEO and CFO. While fielding questions about the acquisition of Cryptic Studios by PWE, it was revealed that "Cryptic is working on the free-to-play model for Star Trek Online. 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."
Honestly, this information isn't completely unexpected. It's definitely something that a lot of players and fans of the property have been clammoring about for a long time. Add to the mix that Champions Online: Free for All version appears to be doing very well and PWE's commitment to F2P titles, it appears that we have the recipe for the announcement.
There is no question that this is a smart move by PWE on behalf of Star Trek Online. By all reports out of Champions Online, the in-game store is not a "pay to win" type of store and truly does contain fluffy vanity items rather than overpowered weapons, etc. If PWE and Cryptic have learned anything from Champions' transformation into a F2P game, let's hope it's this one.
A sticky issue for PWE is going to be the fact that STO has run on a "sort of" item mall model from its inception. While the game charged a monthly fee, players who wanted to, for instance, play other races had to unlock them using the Cryptic Store. The new model is going to have to address some of that when it reemerges as a F2P game. Devs are going to have to ask themselves which things will stay in the store as vanity and which will have to be released wholesale as something required to "win" at the game. Without adequate answers, the idea of pay to win might have some merit.
Fans of the game and those who love the IP will want to watch the transformation of STO as the months roll on. We can certainly hope that the development team will be expanded as (hopefully) revenue rolls in. More devs = more content which is always a good thing.
So what are your thoughts about the F2P Star Trek Online? Is this a good or a bad thing? What about the announcement pleases you and what worries you? Let us know!