Following up on their promises from last week, Cryptic published their current F2P plans for STO today. There’s the standard feature matrix giving an overview of their F2P model and an FAW page. There’s also a new subforum to handle questions from current subscribers. There’s no mention of a date or timeframe beyond the “this year” in the initial leak.
The features list and FAQ both mention several times that the details of F2P are subject to change depending on testing and feedback. Overall though, I imagine most of what they’ve outlined will be how the change happens.
The C-store is getting an itemization and price review. The FAQ says that ship prices will not go up, but I assume that consumable prices will based on how Champions Online’s store changed. A few of the premium species will become free (Ferengi, Rigelian, Pakled, and Tellarite) and some will become earnable in-game (Liberated Borg, Joined Trill, and Federation Klingon).
Lifetime and monthly subscribers will become gold players and still have access to everything they do now. They’ll start receiving a stipend of 400 C-store points every month, as long as they continue to subscribe.
New players and former subscribers will be silver players. Silver players will have access to all content: sectors, missions, foundry missions, fleet actions, featured episode series, and special task forces. They can join fleets. There are no restrictions on Federation character career paths, and they will be able to roll a Klingon Empire character. Silver players are limited to two characters slots, will not be able to create Foundry missions, and will not qualify for Veteran Rewards. Former subscribers can keep any existing Veteran unlocks. They will have limits on their in-game chat and mail until they’ve played twenty hours total across all characters on the account or bought C-store points. This is one of the limitations that may change depending on how well it handles problems with spammers.
The initial level unlock for the Klingon faction is being changed from level six (pretty sure about that) to level 25. This means the starting level for Klingon Empire characters will be 25 and existing characters under that level will get bumped to 25 (no one will lose low-level characters). Cryptic states this is to improve the Klingon faction experience, and I assume this is a temporary change until Cryptic and Perfect World develop enough Klingon content to make it a full-fledged faction. It’s honestly not a large speed bump as it’s less than a week of effort to hit level 25, but I can imagine this being one change that the community doesn’t like.
Overall, I think Cryptic’s plan is pretty solid. Existing subscribers will see very little change except for whatever happens with C-store pricing, and free players will be able to access all of the content in the game without paying a penny. The limitations all revolve around customization and convenience items.
Personally being a lifetime subscriber, I’m happy to start accruing some free points to spend in the C-store. Were I a monthly subscriber, I’m not sure if I would drop to silver or not. Overall the only benefits to staying subscribed are the stipend and the Veteran rewards, everything else can be unlocked via purchase except the Foundry editor. It really comes down to whether or not I feel that $15 a month is worth it to support further development in the game, and that’s something I’ve always felt strongly about since I bought a lifetime subscription.