Star Trek Online, Cryptic Studios' 2010 MMO, joins the freemium gold-rush on 17th January - but current and lapsed subscribers can join the new fleet as of today.
Full details about what you get - and more importantly what you don't get - as part of the new payment model can be found over at Cryptic's comprehensive FAQ.
Eurogamer's Oli Welsh reviewed the game at launch and awarded a 6/10, highlighting the need to develop the game's crafting, looting and Klingon faction.
"It's a unique offering then, in many ways a loveable one, and for Star Trek fans if not MMO gamers it's a great social experience," he concluded.
"It makes its license a blessing, not a burden, but it's a blessing this rickety voyage into the unknown badly needs."
How boldly has the game gone since release? We'll have a re-review of Star Trek Online towards the end of this month.
After months of testing, beefy Star Trek Online update Season 5: Call to Arms has been released.
In a nutshell, Season 5 brings a Duty Officer System, the story of The Borg Advancement, Klingon gameplay updates, a skills revamp, a mission revamp, lore missions and economy restructuring.
STO executive producer Stephen D'Angelo offered an overview of the changes in a dev blog.
Star Trek Online turns free-to-play on 17th January 2012.
New and Improved Content
- Borg Invasion of Defera - An all new action ground combat map that features multiple play areas, boxes, and a variety of game play.
- Re-envisioned Borg Strategic Task Force (STF) maps - These were cleaned up and streamlined to improve play. Then they were given a "Normal" version so everyone can experience the content, as well as an "Elite" version for some seriously challenging play. And finally, we threw in some great new rewards and elite gear that you can earn.
- Federation and Klingon Academy - All new academy maps to explore and do non-combat game play.
- Lore Missions - A whole new type of non-combat play. Learn about the Star Trek universe while playing these fun little missions.
- Patrol Mission Revamp - The patrol missions got a new feel, now requiring some exploration to discover them. They also got better Skill Point rewards.
- Event Calendar - A new event calendar that features nearly a dozen new events that happen around the clock.
- Threaded Storyline - The whole storyline for STO has been put together in a cohesive way by threading the Episode content. Now it's easy to know what to do next, and to play through the core storyline.
- Tighter Klingon Storyline - The Klingon game play was tightened up to play starting at level 21, so that the whole experience for Klingon play is improved.
New and Improved Game Play
- Duty Officers - This is a whole new game play experience within STO. Collect, trade, and manage your Duty Officers as you send them on assignments. It's a great down-time activity and really fun!
- Space Skills Revamp - The whole set of space skills in STO was taken apart and put together in a way that makes it a lot clearer what you're getting with your valuable skill points.
- Transwarp to Episodes - We've made it even easier to get around the galaxy to key content. All of the episodes now feature the ability to transwarp to them.
- Faster Leveling - The leveling curve has been adjusted through the game, particularly at the earlier levels.
- Dilithium Economy - The game now ties together the various daily missions, Duty Officers, and end game play around a new currency called Dilithium. Dilithium adds value to players at all levels from the early game onward. It replaces many of the narrow use currencies previously in the game, such as Marks, Emblems, Badges, and Merit.
- Dilithium Exchange - You can trade Dilithium to other players for Cryptic Points, giving you a way to get your hands on Cryptic Points without spending money.
- Mission Journal Upgrade - The mission journal UI got an upgrade to make it faster and easier to find that great content you want to play.
- Social Map Facelift - The key social maps in the game, such as Earth Space Dock and Qo'noS, got a facelift. They are now better organized, better performing on lower end graphics cards, and easier to get around.
- Tutorial Facelift - The tutorial mission set got a nice scrub and cleanup to make the experience better.
- General Game Polish - Many hundreds of bug fixes across the whole game were rolled in to really improve the overall game experience.
- All told, this is an exciting release. We're in the final phases of testing now on Tribble. Even if you have played on Tribble earlier in the test phases, come on back and check out the latest build.
Full Star Trek Online Season 5: Call to Arms patch notes can be found on the STO website.
Sep 6, 2011
Star Trek Online will go free-to-play before the end of 2011, developer Cryptic Studios has announced.
Confirming reports that surfaced last week, the MMO will still offer a standard subscription model but players will now be able to jump in without opening their wallets.
While free-to-play users enjoy the same level cap as subscribers and can access all of the game's sectors and missions, they'll have two character slots rather than three, a smaller inventory and credit storage limit.
Access to Create a Fleet is limited and the Foundry Creator is locked off entirely. Free-to-play users will also see restrictions on in-game chat, forums, mail and customer service, and will have to put up with advertisements in In-Game Vivox Voice Chat.
Take a look at the lengthy FAQ over on the game's official site for more details.
"In addition to seeking out new life and exploring strange new civilizations, part of our continuing mission for Star Trek Online is to expand and improve," commented Cryptic CEO Jack Emmert.
"Transitioning to a free-to-play model is a natural way to share all we've built with a broader community of players and we couldn't be more excited."
Sep 1, 2011
Cryptic Studios is developing a free-to-play business model for Star Trek Online, new owner Perfect World has revealed.
The free-to-play model will launch by the end of 2011.
This, not unsurprising news, tumbled from the mouth of Perfect World chief financial officer Kelvin Lau.
"Cryptic is working on the free-to-play model for Star Trek Online," Lau told investors during the company's latest earnings conference call (transcription courtesy of Seeking Alpha).
"This is going to be launched by the end of this year."
"So I think free-to-play model we have a bigger potential in US market and also in China market."
Cryptic Studios' other MMO, Champions Online, switched from subscription to free-to-play earlier this year. Whether Star Trek Online would follow suit depended on the reaction to Champions Online, developer CEO Jack Emmert previously told Eurogamer. Our only indication of Champions' F2P success has been Atari describing the switch as "promising".
Perfect World bought Cryptic Studios in May. The company now owns the rights to Champions Online, Star Trek Online and also, according to the conference call, Neverwinter - the not-quite MMO in development at Cryptic.
"[Cryptic] will help us grow in the US and the Europe," said Perfect World chairman Michael Chi, "and further strengthen our R&D and operations around the world."
Star Trek Online was released in early 2010 and scored 6/10 on Eurogamer. A year and a half of improvements has been made since then, including the addition of user-created missions.
May 31, 2011
Cryptic Studios - creator of City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Champions Online - has a buyer: Chinese MMO outfit Perfect World.
Perfect World paid $50.3 million (£30.4 million / 35 million) for Cryptic. That's 55 per cent more than Atari paid for Cryptic in 2008 - $27.5 million.
How Champions Online and Star Trek Online will slot into Perfect World's portfolio is unclear. With Champions Online already free-to-play, however, the transition should be painless.
Perfect World talks of the purchase as a great way to charge West. Will this mean significant investment for Cryptic's new almost-but-not-quite MMO Neverwinter?
May 17, 2011
Atari is to shed Champions Online and Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios.
According to the publisher's latest earnings report, the California-based studio was classed as a "discontinued operation" as of 31st March this year.
"In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the Company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the three changing marketplace," explained the report.
"Therefore, the Company has made the decision to divest itself from Cryptic Studios. The divestiture process is underway and more details will be provided as appropriate."
Cryptic had initially struggled following its purchase by Atari back in 2008, but had recently shown signs of an upswing. Losses were 5.3 million for the 2010/11 fiscal year, up from 12.6 million in 2009/2010.
Gamasutra reports that Atari will continue to support all active Cryptic titles while a buyer is sought, and development on its Neverwinter project will continue as normal.
A post from a Cryptic employee on the Star Trek Online forums suggested it wasn't all doom and gloom on the studio floor.
"The headline is chosen a little unfortunate by the colleagues at Gamasutra and makes it sound like we're a kicked puppy standing in the rain. That's not the case," stated a community representative.
"Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects (and the folks from the Champions team deserve an extra cheer for their new stuff by the way) and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate."
Star Trek Online was Cryptic's most recent launch back in February 2010, scoring 6/10 from Eurogamer's Oli Welsh.
Apr 1, 2011
The make-your-own-missions Foundry tool has now officially launched for Star Trek Online.
Beta testing had been ongoing since December.
The Foundry equips gamers with the same tools Cryptic Studios uses to make Star Trek Online content. When built, missions can be shared with the rest of the community, and Cryptic pledges to "periodically" feature your work as "Spotlight Missions".
Excitingly, The Foundry represents a base alteration to the engine under-pinning all Cryptic's work, including Champions Online and upcoming online co-op RPG Neverwinter. Theoretically, then, the Foundry tools will head to those games as well.
Jack Emmert alluded to as much back in November, telling Eurogamer that "user-generated content has always been part of our strategic plan for years and years and years". He added that, "Ultimately I'd like to have it in every game we do in one version or another."
Feb 16, 2011
MMO maker Cryptic Studios has once again propped up parent company Atari with money made from Star Trek Online and Champions Online.
Both games helped online revenue for the first nine months of the 2010/2011 financial year rise nearly 500 per cent from the previous year to 18.4 million (£15.4 million).
Much of this improvement was down to Champions Online's switch from a subscription based MMO to free-to-play, the initial results of which were "promising", Atari said.
Early sales performance for online-enabled racer Test Drive Unlimited 2, which Oli awarded 7/10 to, were "in line with expectations".
Still, French company Atari's revenues for the 2010 holiday quarter were down 52.5 per cent from the year before to 11.4 million (£9.5 million).
And nine month revenues for the fiscal year (1st April to 31st December 2010) were down 55.7 per cent at 41 million (£34.3 million), compared to the same period in the previous financial year when Terminal Reality's Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released.
Atari blamed the decrease on its new focus on selling fewer but more profitable games and online games.
"Over the next few months, we look forward to new game releases based upon our classic Atari game franchises as well as Ghostbusters, Dungeons and Dragons and The Witcher," CEO Jim Wilson said.
Nov 16, 2010
You'll be able to make your own Star Trek Online content on 9th December when update Season Three arrives.
The Foundry tools are still in beta, but you'll be able to use them to make your own missions and share them with friends.
Season Three also brings the option to replay missions, plus you can now use Borg technology on your spaceship.
Cryptic has even spruced up Sector Space to make it look and feel more realistic.
Cryptic's other MMO, Champions Online, is being turned into a free-to-play game. Star Trek Online will follow depending on how well Champions Online does. At least, that's what Cryptic boss Jack Emmert told Eurogamer recently.
Nov 10, 2010
A bumper year for Cryptic Studios the MMO specialists behind Star Trek Online and Champions Online has encouraged owner Atari to shift its focus to the online market.
As reported by IndustryGamer, Atari's half year financial report has revealed a worrying slump for the publisher. Revenues are down 60 per cent to 29.6 million compared to 68.5 million over the same period last year.
The only good news was a strong showing for its online division with revenues soaring to 12.9 million from 1.8 million in 2009, largely thanks to Cryptic Studios' efforts.
Duly, Atari has announced it's planning to invest heavily in online gaming to address the decline. It has Asteroids Online, Deer Hunter Online and a new Neverwinter title from Cryptic all lined up, as well as Atari Games Online a new initiative set up to develop online casual and social games.
A new free-to-play strategy for Champions Online also goes live next year, with similar plans being considered for Star Trek Online.
Among more traditional titles slated for release from Atari over the next 12 months are Test Drive Unlimited 2 and Star Raiders for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and The Witcher 2 for PC.