Looks like that today, the folks at Star Trek Online have begun the great changeover to the Freemium model, allowing former subscribers early access to the game-for free. (Which, you know, is kind of the point of a Freemium model….)
So, what will they find? And how will they react?
A lot has changed, but the basics remain the same. There’s still space and ground components, you have bridge officers to assist on the ground and they drive your abilities in space. Spacedock has changed style from its original 2409 look to the classic look on the outside, and had a slight redesign on the inside. Space and ground skills have mutated dramatically. Newer content feels more like Star Trek than some of the older content.
On the other hand: the content isn’t much more than what we’ve had. STFs have had a facelift, but they’re still the same sort of thing they were in the past; some hardcore folks would argue that the changes are not for the better. There have been almost no feature episodes-and thus, no EPISODES at all-in the last year. The C-Store, which is now the primary money maker for the game, is poised to inflict sticker shock. There is a certain point of view that the developers have basically gone for the cash-grab attitude instead of making a good game. In many ways, the reasons that players left STO in the first place still exist, with one major exception: they don’t have to pay to play anymore. That one detail may be enough for STO to grow a population; to get them to shell out cash, though? Jury’s still out.
One bit of news which is welcome (if it’s true; they have lied before) is the information that the long-anticipated new ship class for both Klingons and Feds will be coming for the next month’s anniversery festivities-and that they will be acquirable via “in-game” currency. Of course, folks figure that it’s probably not going to be Energy Credits, and it’s not too likely to be Gold-Pressed Latinum, which leaves the ever-so-popular Dilithium. And THAT means it’s effectively real-cash. (There’s one more possibility that I think has snuck under the radar: the stuff used to make anti-Borg gear from the STFs could conceivably be used. If that’s the case, I think a significant portion of the playerbase is going to go berserk.)
Of course, this info comes from the same folks who assured players that the tier-3 Nebula/Excelsiors would be bundled with the tier-5 versions in the C-Store for people who purchased them pre-Season 5. So I’d take it with a significant modicum of salt. I suppose it’s a sign of how low my opinion of Cryptic has gotten that I figure that the means to get the ships will turn out to be whatever way screws the players the most.
I’m looking forward to reading reactions to the returning players; could their eyes see something that I can’t see anymore? Or will their opinions mirror my own? Surely they can’t have a worse opinion these days…could they?