Star Trek Online has announced a date for its changeover to free-to-play, but it won’t quite make it for 2011.

Rumors that Star Trek Online would transition to free-to-play began kicking around back in the summer and were confirmed by Cryptic in September. It’s taking a little longer than expected, however; the transition was originally scheduled to be complete by the end of the year but it’s not quite going to make it. Instead, the game will launch as a free-to-play title on January 17, 2012.

The F2P model will divide users into silver [free] and gold [paid] categories. Gold members will have unlimited access to most features, a bigger inventory, priority logins and other bonuses, while silver players will be able to purchase access on an a la carte basis. Gold-level subscribers will also get a “stipend” of 400 free Cryptic Points each month on the anniversary of their subscription for use in the game.

Finally, and this will probably make more sense to people who actually play the game than it does to me, Cryptic is “bringing the new build from Tribble to Holodeck” sometime between December 1 and December 8. “Testing with the new game changes has been going really well on the Tribble server,” Executive Producer Stephen D’Angelo wrote on the STO blog. “The development team has been pleased with the results and feedback, and we think we only have a few more weeks of iteration and testing before the game changes will be ready for the mainstream players.”

To learn more about Cryptic’s free-to-play plans for Star Trek Online, check out

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