Free-to-Play Star Trek Online launching January 17

star trek onlineMark your calendars Trekkies, Star Trek Online has gotten an official date for its free-to-play conversion. Cryptic Studios announced the F2P model will be launching on January 17, 2012. Become a captain and travel to all the iconic locations you love from the Star Trek franchise like the Academy or the First City of Qo’noS; all without spending a dime.

Players will be split into Silver and Gold members; Silver being those who opt for the free experience, and Gold being those who subscribe or continue a subscription. Silver players will be able to experience the majority of the STO universe for free: All sectors and missions, PVP access, weekly episodes, classes, joining guilds, playable species and Klingon play.

Of course, free will have its limitations. Silver players will have to put up with advertisements in their in-game Vivox voice chat. Also, perks such as extra character slots, inventory and Captain Retrain Tokens will need to be purchased.

Gold players will be given these perks with their subscription, and will automatically start with certain features which Silver will need to unlock such as standard ships. Gold will have unlimited access to forums and in-game chat, along with no advertisements.

Certain features will only be available in Gold such as priority login, as well as a stipend that bestows 400 free Cryptic Points to subscribers each month as a thank you for their loyalty (a $5 value). The Gold member stipend benefit will begin December 1.

Star Trek Online is the latest in the trend of MMOs going free-to-play, following DC Universe and Cryptic’s other game Champions Online. Perfect World, a Chinese firm that recently purchased Cryptic Studies, believes that the new model will have bigger potential in both the U.S. and China markets.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: