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Star Trek Online going free to play

Cryptic's new owner Perfect World moving away from subs for Paramount-branded MMO

The Chinese publisher bought Cryptic in May, acquiring the rights to Star Trek Online, Champions Online and the forthcoming Neverwinter from Atari in the process. Champions has already switched to F2P, and STO is now due to follow suit before the end of the year.

"I think free-to-play model [has] a bigger potential in US market and also in China market," reasoned Perfect World chief financial officer Kelvin Lau during an earnings call last week.

Perfect World saw rises in both revenue and profit in its second quarter financials. Total revenue was RMB779.6 million ($120.6m); up from RMB718.5 million in Q1, and RMB 592.5 million ($92.6m) from the same quarter last year.

Net profit also showed significant year-on-year gains, increasing from RMB196.6 million ($30.7m) in Q2 2010 to RMB316.6 million ($49.0m) this year.

The publisher's efforts primarily stem from the Far Eastern market, but the Cryptic acquisition marks a concerted effort to crack the West. "It will help us grow in the US and the Europe," said Perfect World chairman Michael Chi, "and further strengthen our R&D and operations around the world."

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Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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