CBS Consumer Products is bypassing its own line of interactive sites, including StarTrek.com, to launch the new Star Trek Online game through Syfy.
Atari Inc., which took over development of the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, said it has struck a deal with NBC Universal-owned Syfy to help promote the game for its Feb. 2 launch, creating what Atari calls a “one-stop hub” online for everything about the game. Syfy also plans to get fans fired up for STO by running Star Trek marathons right up to the launch on its cable channel.
“The Syfy audience has immense passion for video games,” said Alan Seiffert, senior vice president of Syfy Ventures, in a release. “With that said, we are making a significant commitment to growing onur presence in gaming and establishing Syfy.com’s Game Center as a leading destination for cutting edge interactive entertainment from a news, entertainment and even sales perspective.”
The move to Syfy puts yet another nail in the coffin of StarTrek.com, the one-time go-to source for anything about the franchise. The split of Viacom to create separate companies involving the movie side like Paramount Pictures and a television side with CBS Studios, has put the franchise’s Web site in a bit of a no-man’s land.
For months, the site was not updated at all following mass layoffs soon after “Star Trek: Enterprise” was yanked from the air. But last year, CBS Studios made it active again.
The partnership is a win for Syfy, which has been focused on becoming a branded leader in both science-fiction and gaming. Syfy will now be able to offer special contests and sweepstakes as well as offer an digital download bundle involving Star Trek Online. That bundle includes a neodymium deflector dish, an in-game item that grants a bonus to auxiliary power, boosts maneuverability, and increases the effectiveness of a ship’s science abilities.
The package also includes “cryptic points” that allows users to purchase in-game items, as well as a discount to the Syfy store.
Syfy will broadcast a marathon Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 of both “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, and 8 a.m to 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Syfy is the perfect home for Star Trek Online,” Atari president and chief executive Jim Wilson said in a release. “By offering broadcast support, exclusive content and in-game bonuses, fans of Star Trek and the science-fiction genre will be able to take part in this title’s much-anticipated release.”
Star Trek Online has had an interesting development history. Perpetual Entertainment began development on the MMORPG in 2004, but went bankrupt in 2008. The license then moved to Cryptic Studios, although the coding remained part of Perpetual.
The game is being developed specifically for PCs, with a console version still rumored to be available at some point. Like many MMOs, however, there is not a Mac-friendly version of the game.
Beta testing on the game ended Tuesday, and the first official logins are expected to begin next week. Star Trek Online launches into a market that has been filled with rough waves from the start. World of Warcraft continues to dominate MMOs, and high-profiled games have come and gone, some without a whimper, and others spectacularly.
Star Wars Galaxies is probably the one most recognized as a victim of the market volatility. It launched to heavy publicity in 2003, only to quickly lose favor to WoW instead. The game continues to operate, although Sony Online Entertainment reduced the number of servers available to players late last year.