Late last week it was revealed that Cryptic Studios' massively multiplayer Star Trek Online would be going free-to-play later this year, swapping required subscription fees for an active player base. Today we find out what's free and what'll have players reaching for their gold-pressed latinum.
The free-to-play model being applied to Star Trek Online really isn't all that restricting to free (silver) players, something that might annoy those that plan of shelling out $14.95 a month for gold status. Free players are limited to two character slots instead of three; 48 inventory and bank slots as opposed to 72 and 96 respectively for paying players; and they won't be able to create new missions using the game's Foundry system, though they'll still be able to play player-created content to their hearts' content.
Free players also get limited access to forums, in-game mail, in-game chat, and customer service, are not eligible for priority login or veteran rewards, and have to deal with ad-supported in-game voice chat.
It seems restrictive, but looking over the full list it looks like free players will have access to just about everything Star Trek Online has to offer, without having to drop a dime. That should boldly go a long way to repopulating a universe that's steadily declined since launch.
Star Trek Online Free-to-Play [Official Website]
Perfect World's chief financial officer told investors during a call today that it's looking to a free-to-play Star Trek Online to "have a bigger potential in US market and also in China market."
Star Trek Online launched in February 2010. Champions Online, Cryptic's other MMO, already is free to play.
Star Trek Online Goes Free to Play [Industry Gamers]
Publisher Atari is "divesting" itself of MMO specialists Cryptic Studios, which it snapped up in 2008. It's trying to sell the creators of Star Trek Online and Champions Online after losing Atari millions. [Atari Results (PDF)]
Feb 2, 2011
It's been a year since Cryptic Studios boldly went and released a massively-multiplayer game based on Star Trek, and it's come quite a long way since then. See what's changed and what's next for Star Trek Online.
Star Trek Online is a different game from the one I reviewed a year ago. Back then I said the game wasn't finished, and while it hasn't stopped developing since then, the developers have added level upon level of polish to the already solid Star Trek experience.
Some of the major additions to the game over the past year include a level cap increase from 41 to 51 complete with a new tier of ships, new mission types further emphasizing Trek's knack for generating drama without resorting to violence, and the beginning of the Foundry system, which will allow players to craft and share their own missions.
Cryptic is holding celebrations in-game to celebrate the anniversary as we speak, with in-game prizes to be won via developer-driven trivia contests. Everything in the game's real money C-Store is on sale, and there's a fresh Romulan-themed set of weekly episodic missions - "Cloaked Intentions" - kicking off this weekend.
There's enough going on to get me curious enough to boldly go one more time. Anyone else pondering heading back into space?
Atari and Cryptic Studios have mounted a huge push for players in Star Trek Online, featuring a referral program, veteran rewards, a free demo, and an invitation to lapsed players of the three-month-old MMO to try it again for free.
Has Star Trek Online really lost so many of its launch players in the past three months to warrant a Winback Weekend? It seems a bit early to me, but then I've not had much time to play since the first month myself. Perhaps I'm a trendsetter. Perhaps players were maxing out their rank too quickly and getting bored. Either way, this weekend old players are invited to log back in and see what they've missed in the 5-10 weeks since they stopped playing.
The Winback Weekend is part of a four-pronged attack to bring in more subscriptions while keeping existing players playing.
A downloadable demo of the game is now available, allowing perspective players to experience the opening missions in the game for as long as they'd like.
For players needing that extra push, the new referral program doles out in-game items, skill points, and Cryptic Store currency for those that manage to trick their pals into playing with them.
Finally, to keep players coming back, Cryptic has lined up special titles, items, and bonuses for players who keep their subscriptions active for 100, 200, 300, or 400 days with the veteran's reward program.
I think Star Trek Online is a fine MMO for what it is. It still needs a little polish, but on the whole it's a solid release. Hopefully Cryptic and Atari can draw in enough new business to keep up this continuing mission.
May 7, 2010
This is no video game. This is an image of a gigantic baby star inside a galactic bubble 4,300 light-years from Earth, captured by Europe's Herschel space telescope. Has video game space ever been so beautiful?
The small white spot on the bottom edge of the ethereal-looking galactic bubble RCW 120 is actually an infant star, only tens of thousands of years old, before its nuclear furnace ignites. Even as an infant, the star is 8 to 10 times the size of our sun.
Interesting statistics, but what drew me to this story was how advances in astronomy help shape the way our games depict outer space. Granted, the Herschel space telescope works in the far-infrared and sub-millimeter range, so the picture isn't an accurate visual representation of what we're looking at, but it's pictures like these that shape the way game creators shape their universes.
Here are a few examples of how outer space is depicted in video games.
We've sure come a long way, haven't we?
Homeworld is one of the first games I played that made outer space look truly appealing. There isn't much in the way of detail, but the color palette brightened up the normally inky depths considerably.
If there's one thing EVE Online has always done right, it's gripping, edge-of-your-seat adventure.
No, of course not. It's the game's depiction of outer space that lures many unsuspecting future EVE addicts into the fold, promising countless colorful star systems to explore, mine, and eventually die within. Graphic updates in recent years have made the universe of EVE Online more beautiful than ever.
You don't really spend too much time freely exploring space in the Mass Effect series, but the few free-roaming space faring moments you do enjoy take place on colorful star fields filled with various nebulae and gas pockets. Not bad for what is essentially point and click space exploration.
Star Trek Online is another game that nails space, presenting distinctive and colorful spatial phenomena at every turn. Some would even say it outdoes the television shows and movies in terms of capturing the alien beauty of the airless void.
It's interesting to see how scientific advances color the way we experience the final frontier. As telescope technology advances and we push further out beyond the bounds of our tiny solar system, our view of outer space will grow more complete, allowing us to experience more of the beauty of the universe in real life and the games we play.
Apr 7, 2010
Like the console version(s) of Cryptic's superhero MMO Champions Online, Star Trek Online is having a hard time making the leap from PCs to consoles, as if it were caught in some sort of temporal distortion field, Captain.
According to Videogamer, Cryptic's massively multiplayer online take on the Star Trek universe is "on the back burner." Crytpic's Craig Zinkievich says the developer has had the game up and running on "certain consoles," but that 100% of the developer's focus is on the PC version of Star Trek Online.
So few MMOs for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. You'd think more publishers and developers would want to be in on this monthly subscription action, but maybe that's the exact thing that console owners balk at.
Star Trek Online on console scrapped [Videogamer]