Star Trek Online Preps for Free-to-Play Transition

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Nov 8, 2011 in Star Trek, Videogames |

Star Trek Online box art

If you haven’t heard by now, Cryptic’s  Star Trek Online will be making its transition from a traditional subscription-based format to a Free-to-Play platform by the end f the year. The massive multiplayer title launched in February of last year to less-than-favorable reviews. Tragically, everyone found the space combat to be fresh and entertaining, but were quick to dismiss every other aspect of the game. I can’t really blame, though. Away team missions often featured randomly generated worlds that just seemed dull to begin with. Many of the alien species barely resembled their television counterparts, and the scripted encounters seemed hastily written, and poorly executed. Despite its flaws, the game seems to have persevered. Since its launch, Star Trek Online has grown considerably, kept alive through a series of free updates that serve as episodic expansions. While this has managed to keep fans happy so far, the upcoming transition might have a few of you concerned. So, what changes should you expect?

There will be a few changes here and there, but overall, the game should remain very much the same. Access to the Klingon faction has been restricted to level 25 and up, which means that encounters for that faction will be scaled accordingly once the Free-to-Play conversion is completed. If you already have a Klingon character, you’ll still be able to access them once the change takes place — they’ll be scaled as well. The in-game currency will also be going through a change. Rather than requiring badges, or marks, everything will is being converted into Dilithium. Why Dilithium and not Latinum? Beats me. All I know is that it’ll be a single currency used across the board and every in-game vendor will use it.

Star Trek Online Screenshot 1

Subscriptions will still exist for those who wish to pay the monthly fee, and life-time subscribers will retain the benefits they’ve had in the past. That said, there should be a new influx of Free-to-Play users who actually get a pretty good deal. While they’ll get to experience most of the features in full, free users will be limited in a number of areas, while other features can be upgraded for a one-time fee, or microtransaction. They’ll be limited to two character slots, locked out of accessing the foundry, and forced to deal with less inventory space. They’ll also have limited access to customer service, in-game chat, and mail while only being able to post in designated fourms. The limits on chat and mail are lifted after 20 hours of gameplay, or if the user was once a subscriber.

Star Trek Online Screenshot 2

That doesn’t sound like much in terms of restrictions, so what does a subscription grant us? Well, to begin with, you’ll gain access to priority log-in. If the servers are impacted for whatever reason, free users will just have to wait. You’ll also be given a month stipend of in-game credits as well as access to the veteran rewards program. As before, you’ll given two additional bridge officers per rank while free users will be forced to purchase theirs. There’s probably a few more benefits here and there, but nothing too major. If you’d like to see a full list of the services being offered, Cryptic has provided a helpful features-matrix complete with a side-by-side comparison. If you have any other questions, you can check out the official Free-to-Play FAQ, located here.

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