In an IGN article, Star Trek Onlines F2P release date was formally announced: January 17, 2012. Originally, they said they would go F2P before the end of the year. That’s clearly changed. There is a lot they still need to do because most of their changes need a lot of work. So I guess it’s a good thing they aren’t going to rush it out before New Years.
But this means that it will be 7 months from the last content release to the live servers, Season 4 in early July. The Duty Officer System was supposed to be released with that system, but won’t go out until F2P is live, so that’s now a 7 month delay. There really isn’t any point in playing on the live servers now, since everything is changing and there’s nothing new. At least LOTRO gave Turbine points to all subscribers for the months they were subbed between their announcement of F2P and the launch. Right now, subscribers are just being milked by Cryptic.
There are also several revelations in this article that I take issue with.
Cryptic’s decision to remove the subscription cost from their most recent MMO wasn’t sudden, according to Stephen D’Angelo, Executive Producer on STO and Chief Technical Officer. “We’ve always wanted the game to be free-to-play,” he says, “in fact we tried to make it free-to-play at the original launch, but our publisher [Atari] didn’t want us doing that so we didn’t do that.”
Really? Because Devs, including the former EP, posted many times they had no interest in going F2P, until the announcement they were. Though, I suppose you could argue that Atari wouldn’t allow it to happen, so he was truthful since they were calling the shots. We all knew it would happen eventually. This might explain why dStahl left and why the switch to Perfect Worlds.
The process of making Star Trek Online subscription-free is a little more interesting than what we’ve seen in the past. It’s due to STO’s level of difficulty. Simply put, it’s not very hard at all. According to D’Angelo, it’s possible for players to hit the level cap and get the best gear inside of a single day. The end result is that totally sweet loot doesn’t feel as totally sweet as it should. “A lot of the things people acquired weren’t worth very much to them,” D’Angelo says. So the plan leading up to the switch to free-to-play is to make the high-end stuff more difficult to acquire, and the low-end stuff simpler.
Really? Max level and fully geared in a day? Now, I can’t play a game for 24hrs, so can’t say if it really is possible to hit max level in that time period (I would say, No. While it’s a relatively short advancement, it takes a few hours to gain a few levels). But getting the max gear is quite time consuming.
To fully outfit a ship with all purple level gear requires 8 weapons (30 Emblems each), 3 pieces of ship equipment (105 Emblems each), 8 consoles (25 Emblems each), 6 personal weapons (25 Emblems each), 5 sets of armor (30 Emblems each), and 5 personal shields (30 Emblems each.
8*30 + 3*105 + 8*25 + 6*25 + 5*30 + 5*30 = 240 + 315 + 200 + 150 + 150 + 150 = 1,205
I counted 9 Daily missions that together yield 21 Emblems. That’s 21 per day. To get 1,205 requires 57 days of playing every mission every day. That takes hours a day to do.
What I really take issue with is the bolded part. The high end just isn’t “totally sweet” and isn’t worth the grind that it currently requires. There’s just not enough of a value to it to be worth while. The new STF gear that they are adding may make grinding through the STF’s provide something valuable, they aren’t adding anything new to the regular high end gear set. They are just making it harder to get. They’re logic just seems broken.
The annoying part is, they are focusing on making getting the current loot harder, instead of making the game better or adding/improving really bad systems. Exploration for example. This is Star Trek. The exploration system should be kick ass and second to none. But it’s craptastic. They keep talking about wanting to improve it, but never devote any resources to it.
People don’t play a Star Trek game to grind up for “Uber Loot”. Your market is a very casual, older crowd of gamers; not hardcore grinders. They play it because it’s Star Trek. Add more Star Trek, and we’ll pay for that. The ships are good. Add more systems (exploration, diplomacy, etc) that have consumable enhancements. And I don’t mean things that make you uber, things that just make it easier. Like LOTRO’s XP buffs, or travel tokens, or reputation boosts.
Because right now, the last paragraph of the article has a lot of validity. It’s just a play to win model that no one will care about.
It’s an interesting system that could either work wonderfully well, keeping both skilled and paying players in the best gear, but it requires the community’s acceptance of the system. It’s also up for debate whether this conforms to the maligned “pay-to-win” model, as players can still theoretically “buy” the best gear, even if it’s just from another player.