Captain's Log: More on the economy

Screenshot - Star Trek Online
Captain's Log, Stardate 65303.9...

Hello, computer (and players)! As I discussed last week, heated discussions surround Star Trek Online's change to a F2P hybrid model and planned game mechanics updates. While new updates are being pushed to the Tribble server for testing and feedback, many aspects are in a state of flux as such feedback is collected, evaluated, and implemented. The biggest area affected is the economy. While everyone has his own thoughts on the matter, Cryptic is leaving no feedback forum post unread -- the players will help shape these changes.

Last week, we saw the push of another patch that seems to have made some giant strides toward solving some of the biggest concerns, including significant reductions in prices for most items and the return of free ship tokens for most ranks. Stephen D'Angelo, acting Executive Producer and Emergency Executive Producer Hologram (EEPH), explained: "Based on how rapidly we're getting data and revising the game, we're still probably two more weeks away from having the economy in a state that is close to good enough." Since he said a lot more in his recent dev blog post, I thought I should take some time to expound on it.

Ensign, warp 10! Let's take a look at what else the EEPH had to say and break it down...

The past few weeks have made for some of the most activity that the STO forums have ever seen. Before last Thursday, when players logged into Tribble, many were surprised and disappointed to see that most of the items that they could easily purchase in the past for a relatively low cost were now astronomically priced and would be unattainable without "grinding." Now, most items have dropped to as little as 10% of what they cost before. D'Angelo has let us know that Cryptic "may continue to lower the costs as [it] get[s] through reviewing the various systems."

One of the original reasons for the price increase was that the devs wanted to make top-end gear something to be proud of, something "brag-worthy." Those who have played the game know that it is fairly easy to deck out ships in very rare (purple) gear with minimal effort. D'Angelo told us that he wants them "to have actual value to the players who achieve [certain] goals" and "that only people who were subscribers before F2P or who worked as hard as they did could say the same."

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In the dev blog, we were also given an explanation of why certain aspects were changed and what are the goals intended for them. Energy Credits, the game's basic currency, are now going to be used for typical expenses of casual players; this includes consumables, the Exchange (auction house), and basic gear. Whenever a player is participating in "normal gameplay" and "something done all the time," she should be earning Energy Credits. D'Angelo wrote that "if there is something done all the time during normal gameplay that is not using Energy Credits yet, [Cryptic] will be looking to change it over."

The only other in-game currency (besides Gold-Pressed Latinum, which is only used as the Dabo minigame reward) is Dilithium. We discussed the mechanics of it last week, but we have received some further clarification. D'Angelo noted that "Dilithium currency is something that [Cryptic] think[s] many starship captains will never need in quantity" and that "if you enjoy playing the episode story line, getting your crew decked out with moderate gear, and so on, you may not need a single unit of Dilithium." In the same train of thought, he also said that Cryptic does "intend for Dilithium to enable captains to go beyond the casual and into the hardcore acquisition of items."

Dilithium, which will be awarded through content that "[goes] beyond the casual," will be used to procure extra starships and the "top-end gear" mentioned earlier. This includes Duty Officer missions, Special Task Forces, and other events. While D'Angelo admits this change will make acquiring such items harder than before (though not impossible), he hopes it will bring the desired mix that many Captains have been longing for. Finding the balance is most likely going to be tricky for the team, and that is why our feedback is crucial.

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The "final piece to [the] puzzle," as D'Angelo put it, is the implementation of the Currency Exchange. Those who want the high-end gear but want to put in only minimal effort or have limited time can spend real money on C-Store points and auction them off for Dilithium. Those who do not have the means to spend real money on such points can put in the time and effort to obtain Dilithium and auction it off for C-Store points. He does make sure to emphasize that Cryptic will not be selling Dilithium, so there will only be as many tradable supplies as players are willing to circulate. Based on this, the value of Dilithium will increase and decrease according to supply and demand. I think it might be time to pull out my old economics textbooks!

Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. Based on D'Angelo's words, we should at least give his team the benefit of the doubt that it will sort most things out before the game re-launches as F2P. I believe we are still a month or more away from seeing this happen, so there is plenty of time to check things out and voice our opinions. Next week, I am going to be livestreaming STO on Tuesday, October 25th, at 10 p.m. EDT; I hope you tune in to our Livestream channel as I team up with some readers of Captain's Log as they teach me some of their PvP strategies.

Until next time, let me know your own thoughts on the EEPH's words by commenting below or sending me an email to

Computer, terminate recording.

Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through
This article was originally published on Massively.