Atari To Sell Star Trek Online Developer Cryptic + Promise Continued STO Support

It looks like the 2 1/2 year relationship between game publisher Atari and Star Trek Online developer Cryptic is over. Atari has  announced plans to "divest" from Cryptic and confirmed with TrekMovie that they will continued to support Star Trek Online while they look for a buyer for Cryptic. Details below


Atari to sell Cryptic Studios + promise continued support for STO

In late 2008 game publisher Atari acquired Cryptic Studios and gave the smaller developer the capital infusion it needed to launch Star Trek Online in early 2010. But in their most recent financial statement, Atari announced it would "divest itself" from Cryptic, with the following explanation:

In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the Company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the changing marketplace. Therefore, the Company has made the decision to divest itself from Cryptic Studios. The divestiture process is underway and more details will be provided as appropriate.

According to the financial statement, Cryptic (who publish Star Trek Online and Champions Online) lost €5.3 million ($7.5 million) in their last fiscal year ending March 31st. A spokesperson for Atari confirmed with TrekMovie that Atari is looking to sell Cryptic and offered this reassurance to STO players:

Everything is business as usual and will be supported by Atari until a buyer is found, including operations of STO.

Neither Cryptic, nor CBS had any official comment on the Atari announcement. However, Cryptic’s Community Manager Wish Stone made the following comment on the official STO forums:

Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects (and the folks from the Champions team deserve an extra cheer for their new stuff by the way) and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate.

TrekMovie will continue to monitor events regarding Atari and Cryptic and provide updates when possible.


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I think this is more of an Atari issue than a Cryptic issue.

I hope Star Trek Online doesn’t suffer but I,won’t be surprised if it does.

I hope for the best but I expect some stuff to dip.

Was sitting here playing STO right now when I read this article… I hope it stays going.

Will Paramount/CBS finally buy Cryptic and move forward with TV Show MMO Tie-in with the Next Trek television show?

Around 2006-2008, didn’t Paramount and Mr. Berman say it was a good idea to buy the STO developer?

What happens now that Star Trek:Infinite Space is coming out?

Q: When Cryptic and IBM set up, did they plan for moving up to the same platform or better than what EvE Online uses?

I thought Star Trek Online was doing well? Every time I log on I see tons of players on there.

Well, looks like not only is “Star Trek Online” a total financial blackhole, but Atari has to sell it or else end up in bankruptcy. Tells you all you need to know why most developers don’t put much money into publishing “Star Trek” games. There just aren’t the numbers of players needed to justify the huge expense.

It’s difficult to depict “Star Trek” in a video game. “Star Trek” is a vague term. It encompasses exploration, science, diplomacy and both space-based and land-based battles.

“Star Wars” on the other hand, is very specific, featuring a simple storyline featuring well devevoped characters and events which make up a very accessible mythology. “Star Wars” is self-explanatory in it’s title.

Plus, “Star Wars” is the preeminent sci-fi franchise. The whole world knows about it. Even those who haven’t seen any of the movies are familiar with it. “Star Trek”, on the other hand, is popular in North America, and only a handful of other countries.

If Cryptic had done a “Star Wars” version of the online game instead, Atari wouldn’t be in this situation unfortunately.

Yeah, because a Star Wars online game would make ……wait a minute…..wasn’t there one already that failed?

I love STO and hope it stays alive.

Probably will in some form or another.

They didn’t go broke because of me, that’s for sure. There needs to be more of me, that’s what the problem is!


I don’t expect this will have a significant impact on the gamer’s side of STO, just the business side.

im glad i pay per month and not the 250+ for a life time, for a game that might drop by next year. i personally play off and on because its too easy to level up (though not as easy to aquire gear useful enough to gain an advantage in PvP)


Unfortunately, the side that matters most is the business side. If the business side isn’t working, there won’t be a gamer’s side.

Funny, not that long ago there was an article about how revenue from Cryptic was keeping Atari from going under.

If I had to guess, the $7.5 million loss is because of Champions Online. From what I understand, STO has been gaining in popularity and Cryptic is using that game’s success to keep Champions alive. I only assume this because I don’t know ANYONE who plays Champions Online and I’m in the Coast Guard so I know a lot of people and it’s never come up.

@6 Magic dan
Galaxies was doing well until Sony introduced the NGE, this spat in the face of players who had invested hundreds of hours developing their character and its professions and the players walked away from it.
Good news is that Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out in early 2012 which i think will be the final nail in the coffin for Star Trek online, and rightly so, STO is a poor example of Trek, repetitive missions, bland music , no atmosphere and little excitement, wait a minute, actually its an excellent example of Trek …

Star Trek: Online is insanely popular with the ‘Trek gaming community. Though not as large as something like WOW, there are thousands of players on there at any one time, and every time I visit the social hubs within, there is plenty going on.

To call STO a blackhole of a game is simply wrong and very stupid. This sale of Cryptic has nothing to do with STO and it will continue to be supported, in the way which turned a good but imperfect initial release that many of you may have tried and discarded eighteen months ago into the great Star Trek game it is now. For those ignorant of the development, I strongly recommend buying it. The game is cheap in stores now and you get a free thirty days, which is plenty of time to immerse yourself.

Also, I recall the last Star Wars MMO that was made didn’t do so well…

#6 right you are sir. They already made a star wars MMO and it failed. . . terribly.

Two years on cryptic hasnt shown yet that it has the version a great star trek mmo requires, it is simply a champions in space rip and deserves what it gets. Im just sorry for the people who wanted to support cryptic by purchasing their lifetime sub.

5. Warsie, I see. (It’s called trekmovie, not Warsmovie)

It is not a Trek/Wars/Anything Else issue. It’s a licensing issue and a game development issue. You can’t tell me that if a developer created a game like Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed but just renamed the characters Kirk, Spock or Worf that the game wouldn’t do well.

The market for MMO’s is limited, time to reinvigorate the franchise, as they did with the films, and make appealing offers to major game developers for major gaming platforms.

I am not happy with the way Anthony Pascale decided to omit the full context of the post from Wish Stone.

Here is the entire post:
The headline is chosen a little unfortunate by the colleagues at Gamasutra and makes it sound like we’re a kicked puppy standing in the rain. That’s not the case.

Right now I have no further details other than what has been mentioned elsewhere. Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects (and the folks from the Champions team deserve an extra cheer for their new stuff by the way) and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate.

So Stormy is here, I am here, Dan and the gang are here, your GMs and QA staff are working hard. It sounds way more dramatic than it actually is.

Further information from Gamasutra regarding revenue:
“The studio, which recently took Champions Online free-to-play, showed a €5.3 million ($7.5 million) loss for the 2010/11 fiscal year, up from a loss of €12.6 million ($17.9 million) the previous year.”

@Adam C

Whilst I appreciate that you feel sorry for me, I have no regrets for getting my lifetime subscription – which will have paid for itself by next month, knowing that STO has a full lifespan ahead of it. ;)

#13 – “I visit the social hubs within, there is plenty going on.”

No offense intended, but what and where? Yeah, I see lots of players, but STO has almost no player interaction. I know I’m dating myself here, but I used to play Sims Online and the player interaction was what made the game so much fun. (Certainly not building gnomes or talking into mirrors.) In STO, there are lots of players but they don’t interact hardly at all.

STO feels more like a single-player game with some random activity (by another player) thrown in than an MMO. Maybe I am missing an opportunity somewhere but I don’t get the sense of “community” from STO that I was hoping for.

I hate Atari.

@18 – I absolutely agree

STO isnt failing, it is succeeding. Atari wish to sell on their more profitable games so they can sort out their own mess. Cryptic will be bought by another company and in the mean time it will run itself. Being away from Atari may be the best thing to happen to STO for a while

I played STO when it originally came out, but stopped after a few months. It just seemed unfinished.

Since that time, I have watched it mature and am very interested in the user created missions. The Foundry tools allow users to write and script their own missions and to share them freely with other players.

User created content has been a mainstay of extended the lifespan of PC games. Hopefully, STO will follow suit.

¿Why you lie trekmovie? ¿have you been paid for the Infinit space company?
The one that loss 5.4 millions was ATARI! Who last year lost 17 millions and now thanks to Cryptic and STO at least didnt loss so mach!

So, i ask you again.. ¿Why so mach hate on STO?

I just joined Sunday!! DAMN IT!

I can’t say anything about Cryptic’s finances, but STO was rubbish when it launched. I had been in the closed beta and it was more like a closed ALPHA. The game was barely ready for beta when they released it. They also had serious problems with their team members.

But Cryptic has really pulled things together in the time since. They cleaned house and got rid of some dead wood and made MAJOR improvements in both Champions and STO. But I think launching STO before it was ready really gave them a black eye.

I don’t agree with whoever said Champions was the one losing money. Champions is a considerably better game than STO and the stuff they’ve been putting out for it lately is awesome. I think they’re actually starting to put some pressure on City of Heroes for the first time.

A correction for whoever said the new Star Wars game is launching in 2012 – the official word is, and has been for a long time, that they plan to launch The Old Republic in the latter half of this year.

Why is it that when another big name MMO comes out then whatever popular MMO’s are already out people say “such and such is coming out, that means that X game is going to die?” Yes, it is a market where you obviously can’t have tons of games like the RPG or FPS market, but that doesn’t mean you can have several successful games at the same time.

World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online are great examples, both cater to similar audiences and both are very successful. I think the same will be said of Star Trek Online and The Old Republic (if it succeeds) – both cater to different audiences and are very different games. Also, I’m sure there are a LOT of Star Wars fans who are not Star Trek fans who wouldn’t touch STO, just like there are a LOT of Star Trek fans who are not Star Wars fans who wouldn’t touch TOR.

One thing that definitely will help STO and LotRo and TOR is obviously franchise recognition. Where else can you play an online game and share your love of a series with tons of fans? No, what I would worry about hurting STO is the upcoming free-to-play browser-based games like Infinite Space coming out. Will be interesting to see how different that is from STO.

I play STO and LOTRO and if TOR has a reasonable subscription fee (or preferably a lifetime subscription) I will most likely dabble in TOR. And to the person who said they were glad they didn’t buy a lifetime: if the game lasts 2-3 years then you’ve pretty much gotten your money’s worth out of that, since a lifetime I believe is about that much time in terms of monthly fees. I got the $240 lifetime deal and have not regretted it. I like it because I don’t have to worry about fees, I can jump in and out whenever I want.

Star Trek Online did not have a strong start, but it’s “premature birth” allowed for the game’s hopefuls and enthusiasts to provide feedback which guided further development of the game.

STO launched in Febuary 2010 with 18 months of development time, which made it seem stunted in comparison to other MMOs in the market which generally benefit from 36 to 48 months of development time – at which point the game may have launched in 2012 (like SWTOR, Guildwars 2, Blade & Soul, etc…).

Considering that the game has benefited from a small but very active live Dev team, development from that 18 month onward has gone at as steady a clip – everything as steady as it would’ve had been if it had not been launched yet.

The potent difference I see there is that instead of the Devs crafting the game with their own virtuoso expectations of what a Star Trek MMO should be like, they’ve had inpul on where it failed at, and player demands as to what they wanted the game to deliver which has shaped the progress of the Live team, and shown where interest was.

This, in my opinion, makes it so that by mid-2012 the prematurely released STO will be a much stronger game than if it had spent 4 years in development. That did tax the patience of those whom took early interest in the game… but on the other hand – in time – it has and will benefit us greatly.

The game, development-wise, has covered significant milestones to spruce itself up. The Sector Space update, Earth Space Dock being ‘revamped’ to the ST3 version, the featured episode series experiments, the User Generated Content missions, the tech upgrades to the software got along the way… these were all pretty good point.

Coming refinements may actually prove critical. The Duty Roster is a start on the player being more like a Captain and managing/improving the resources on his ship along with the ability to delegate assignments to the crew. The Ground Combat revamp might result in one of STO’s larger gameplay weaknesses to be finally redressed and made as notable as the space combat was touted to be.

The push for content capitalizes on the success and interest of feature episode series pushes on a gimmick that could be one of STO’s strongest point. By the same by Klingon content increases, and KDF assets are steadily added on to make playing the Klingon side a more complete experience.

By 2012, Startrek Online won’t be perfect. It’ll still have much to look forward to improving… but it might have ironed itself out by then to be the game worth recommending to your buddies. That’s my sense of things.

i will buy cryptic immediately if Atari loan me the money to do so.

Spock: Jim their dying.

Kirk: Let them die.

I hope Cryptic and STO fall off into the abyss. Why, because I love StarTrek.

I joined the party late on STO I’ve only been on for about a month now but what I’ve seen so far is good. Not great or amazing but a good MMO with the elements needed to be a startrek game. Startrek unlike many other franchise’s has a 45 year T.V. history plus 11 movies. If you add up how long each series lasted you’ve got 28 years of startrek on T.V. that is a huge base to pull idea’s off of and put into your game. I’ve seen these elements bounced around in the game and the history that the game revolves around. All in all I am just a Sci-Fi junkie who loves star Trek just as much as Star Wars and even other series’s, overall the content is good and the people suppling it now have done their home work. Who knows how long it will stay alive but I’m going to play it as long as it is.

GIVE STAR TREK ONLINE TO THE TREKIES!!!!!!!!!!!! MAKE IT OPEN SOURCE, AND LET THE PEOPLE BUILD IT….AND WE’LL BLOW IT OUT OF THE WATER!!!! I bet there are many talented Trekkies that would support the game for free…the monthly fee from all the players should be able to sustain the hardware and a small investment required to run it no?

Atari has always been a horrible company when it comes to supporting their products. They did the same with their video game consoles and their computer line. They always failed to support the user base and this is just another example.