I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have been neglecting my Star Trek Online account. I have not logged in for quite some time, despite the fact that I enjoy the game.
While many other gamers only have negative things to say about STO, I see the positive as well, and am looking forward to squeezing time for the game into my schedule very soon.
For those who were not happy with the game, or were not interested in a monthly subscription fee, there is potentially good news on the horizon. A company called Gameforge has signed a worldwide licensing agreement to publish free-to-play casual browser games based on the classic science-fiction franchise Star Trek. The games are scheduled to start being released sometime in 2011, with the first two focusing on the classic and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” timelines.
What will this mean for STO? Possibly nothing, as it is being reported that Atari still has the exclusive MMO license to the Star Trek universe, and that STO will continue to be supported and have new content added. However, I believe there is the potential there for some players to quit playing STO in favor of this new game, in order to cut their personal budget. If Gameforge can produce a good quality game, it may happen.
While it is unlikely, it is also possible that the new games could actually cause more people to start playing STO. Gameforge has said these browser-based games will be casual and some players who give those a try may decide they would like to graduate to STO.
Can both of these versions of the Star Trek universe survive? That remains to be seen, and may depend on how eye-catching the graphics look in the Gameforge games. Browser games certainly have come a long way in a short time, and the platforms keep improving, but are still vastly different from the worlds that can be created in other formats.
Even more important will be the storylines used in the game. Star Trek fans will want stories and characters that are true to Star Trek. If these games turn out to be generic games with just names and locations from Star Trek, fans will be very unhappy.
I do find it interesting that CBS has allowed licenses to two different companies to produce games based on Star Trek. Apparently they are not unhappy with Atari and Cryptic, but yet they must feel that there is a segment of the market that is not being reached.
A word of caution … while I cannot say for sure at this time, I suspect that the games will have features that can be purchased, in the same way that many other free-to-play games do. Only time will tell if these features will be ones that have a significant impact on playing or enjoyment of the game.
I sincerely hope these games turn out well. If they are good, then it can be another way to enjoy the vast Star Trek universe. We shall see.