Cryptic Studios has announced today that its PC MMO Star Trek Online is to go free to play.
According to Jack Emmet, CEO of Cryptic Studios: "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.
"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."
Cryptic Studios was put up for sale by Atari earlier this year following revenue losses, leaving many subscribers concerned for the future of the MMO. Cryptic's other main MMO, Champions Online, turned free to play in January of this year, a move which many predicted Star Trek Online would eventually follow.
In May 2011, Cryptic Studios was purchased by Chinese MMO producer Perfect World for just under US$50 million.
Given Perfect World’s track record of producing free to play MMO's with in-game purchases for premium items, the move to free to play became even more strongly suspected amongst the player base in the last few months.
For most players it is a welcome announcement, as under the existing structure players are currently charged a US$14.99 per month subscription fee, in addition to exclusive items having to be purchased with cash via an in-game store. Many players left shortly after the micro transactions system was announced, citing that it was unfair to have to pay both a monthly subscription and extra money to unlock additional items.
Going forward, the game will be free to download and play, with players being able to access all areas of the game at no charge. Current subscribers (and purchasers of lifetime subscriptions) will enjoy extra character slots, larger inventories, the ability to form Guilds and a monthly stipend of points to purchase premium items. Free players will be limited in both in-game chat and mail systems until either 20 hours of play is reached on their account, or a C-store purchase is made (to deter spam bots, according to Cryptic).
Although no exact dates have been given, Cryptic says the change will take place before the end of 2011.
For more information you can check out Cryptic's official page here.
What do you think? Will going F2P get you interested in (or bring you back to) Star Trek Online? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.