When Perfect World Entertainment announced back in May that it was acquiring Cryptic Studios, most players assumed that Star Trek Online would eventually go free-to-play to match Champions Online's model. Well, it looks like the news is finally official. Perfect World CEO Kelvin Lau announced during a recent earnings call that "Cryptic is working on the free-to-play model for Star Trek Online" that will launch by the end of the year.
As you can imagine, players rushed to the forums to discuss the announcement. Executive Producer Dan Stahl made numerous comments, including the following statement:
"Before this spins out of speculation control, I can assure you there are no restrictions on content access, including future Feature Series. In addition, subscribers should notice little to no change. As far as I've seen, any changes in price will be to lower prices on some items.
That aside, if you don't like the game, you don't like the game. The entire concept of F2P is that you don't have to pay for the game. You can play it for free and if you like and want to play deeper into the game, then you can still do that for free. Perfect World has a strong philosphy that it should be possible for a free player to reach maximum level without spending a dime. In my opinion, if you enjoy the game, then you will spend money on it. And if you don't then that's ok too."
Stahl said that he's been focused on "ensuring that Star Trek Online has a big future ahead of it." He also mentioned that the team is working on a FAQ that will "spell out very clearly what this means for Lifetime and Subscription members."
UPDATE: Cryptic officially confirmed the free-to-play plans in a blog post on the Star Trek Online site. A full announcement with all of the details will be published next week.