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Perfect World, the China-based game studio that finalized its purchase of Cryptic Studios last month, has announced that Star Trek Online will transition to a free-to- play model before the end of the year. This follows the transition of Cryptic's other MMO, Champions Online, which switched to free-to-play in January of this year.
Speaking at Perfect World's second quarter earnings conference, CFO Kelvin Lau said "When Perfect World acquired Cryptic, one of our contributions was to share our free-to-play experience with Cryptic.” For now, Star Trek is hanging on to its $15/month or $299/lifetime subscription rate. But moving forward, Cryptic will undoubtedly draw upon its experience with Champion Online’s transition to a free-to-play model, doing its best to avoid disappointing subscribers when the switch is made.
Champions allows people to play through the entire game free, but offers premium level benefits to players willing to pay an optional subscription fee. More additional content can be purchased through micro-transactions - a system that is already in place in Star Trek Online.
Star Trek Online is Cryptic's second MMO to make the switch, and we'd be surprised if Neverwinter, Cryptic's upcoming D&D-based MMO, doesn’t follow the free-to-play trend as well. We'll have to wait to find out, though, because Neverwinter has been delayed until sometime in 2012.
Sept 1, 2011