Star Trek Online boldly going free-to-play

Cryptic's sci-fi MMORPG Star Trek Online will be boldly going free-to-play this year, the developer's new owner Perfect World has announced. The revelation came during Perfect World's latest financial results conference call.

Details are sparse for now, with the only solid fact being that Perfect World intends to switch to free-to-play "by the end of this year." When subscription-based MMOs go F2P, they typically keep optional subscriptions and limit non-paying players with fewer slots, classes, races, missions, and the like, letting them buy extras as they please.

One imagines that the poor, foolish, naive lifetime subscribers would receive extra perks too.

Star Trek Online already has a microtransaction store, selling ships, bank slots, items, player races, cosmetic ships and costumes, and more, so it's not hard to imagine this being expanded to include many more things.

Cryptic also has experience with the free-to-play model, as its previous MMO, superhero spandexfest Champions Online went free in February. Perfect World also has heaps of the experience in the field, running a whole host of free-to-play online games.