Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Star Trek Online starts boldly today with a million registered users

Not many games can boast having a million registered users by the time they formally launch. Then again, there’s only one Star Trek Online game.

After decades of TV, movies, cartoons, and books, Star Trek fans finally get an online game in a persistent galaxy, starting today. This massively multiplayer game could accommodate as many Trekkies as want to sign up. This game has been in the works for a few years at Atari’s Cryptic Studios division in Los Gatos, Calif., and the launch of the game represents the final frontier in games for the Star Trek franchise.

In the game, players start out as a Starfleet officer, choosing specialties such as science (Star Trek’s Spock character), engineering (Scotty), or tactical (Worf from Star Trek the Next Generation). The players can progress to become a starship captain. You can fight other players in fleet battles in space or beam down to planets to do missions with Away Teams on the ground. Check out our preview story and video of the game.

The game tries to be faithful to the franchise, with all the right characters, races, costume designs, starships and back stories for the various planets in the galaxy. The game is set in the year 2409, about 30 years after the storyline of the 2002 film, Star Trek Nemesis. The game has all of the canon of the original Star Trek, including the events of the Kirk-Spock era, the events of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, provides the voice narration, and Zachary Quinto, who played Spock in the Star Trek film in 2009, provides the voice of the game’s Emergency Medical Hologram tutorial character.

As you can see, Atari and Cryptic pulled out all of the stops for this game. It will be interesting if it generates a huge audience. Star Trek is an untapped market and it is probably one of the few properties that could challenge the dominance of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft game, which has around 11.5 million subscribers. Another big challenger coming is the Star Wars-based MMO, The Old Republic, which is being developed by BioWare. The game runs on a PC and costs $50, plus $12.99 to $14.99 a month for a subscription. It is rated T for teens 13 and up.