Star Trek Online free-to-play details

Perfect World's announcement last week of its plans to take Star Trek Online free-to-play later this year left many unanswered questions. An extensive update to the game's official site now provides an overview of what will be included, a comparison of features for free and paying subscribers, an FAQ, a message board for asking specific questions, and a copy of the press release laying out the upcoming changes. Some highlights follow below but the most important part is that the bulk of the game--all sectors and missions, PVP access, fleet actions, and more--will be playable for free with unlimited access.

"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," said Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios CEO Jack Emmert.

The new system classifies free-to-play players as "Silver Members." They have access to pretty much the entirety of the game, with the two big purchasable items being captain respecs and additional bridge officer slots. Silver Members also have limited in-game chat and email, and access to forums and customer support. They will be able to use Vivox voice chat, but with ads.

Subscribers, including those who bought lifetime memberships, become "Gold Members." In addition to getting those things listed above that Silver Members pay for, they also get unlimited access to guilds, unlimited energy credit storage, veteran rewards, more slots in their bank and inventory, and priority login rights. The cost for the benefits of being a Gold Member will remain at the subscription rate of $14.99 per month.

The only thing left to answer is when the change over will take place. The wait won't be too long, though. The press release states that Star Trek Online will be free-to-play in 2011.