All anti-nerd jokes aside, last year’s box office smash proved that Star Trek is still one of the most beloved and lucrative licences in existence.
Fan loyalty goes far beyond that of more contemporary sci-fi shows, with millions craving to immerse themselves in Gene Roddenberry’s universe whenever they can.
Atari’s Star Trek Online caters to this, promising to fulfil the dreams of any aspiring Picard.
The Cryptic-developed MMORPG puts players in the captain’s chair of a fully customisable starship and lets them boldly go as often as they please.
They will find themselves leading away teams on alien worlds or battling with enemy ships – everything a Star Trek fan could want.
“The game gives players the chance to see if they have what it takes to develop and command their own craft, train their crew and make a real impact in the Star Trek universe,” says UK product manager Lauren Bradley.
“This MMO is unique, not only because of the fantastic licence but also because it takes place both in space and on the ground.”
While so many MMORPGs are available to purchase both at retail and via digital distribution, Bradley tells MCV that the publisher has something a little special planned to coax fans away from their computers and into stores.
“For the UK, we will be releasing the Gold Edition, filled with both physical and exclusive in-game items,” she explains. “Star Trek fans spend an average of £250 per year so this will be a valued edition to their collection.
“This pack includes items developed from feedback we received from Trekkies (or Trekkers). It includes collector’s edition packaging, a T-shirt, a universe map, a set of collector postcards, in-game DLC uniforms and a 30-day timecard. This will be the only SKU available at launch.”
To drive interest and grant the series’ followers a taste of what is to come, Star Trek Online has been given an extensive beta session in which players can get to grips with its features.
It has been more than successful and marks an important step in the game’s overall marketing.
“There are currently 30,000 people in the UK registered for the open beta this month,” says Bradley. “We expect this to continue to build over the next couple of months as the marketing is ramped up.
“Whilst we have a solid media campaign arranged within the specialist gaming press, we will also be heavily investing in the huge online Star Trek community to promote this release. There is one thing that spreads quickly on the internet: news of anything Star Trek-related.”
As such, Namco Bandai is targeting the core audience of veteran Star Trek aficionados through online initiatives – perhaps the most notable of which being the ‘Tweet in Klingon’ app developed for social media such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace that drives people towards the beta.
Elsewhere, the publisher has been engaging with the Trek community by seeding competitions, trailers and news to Star Trek fansites. Email marketing has been sent to a database of avid followers, informing them of the Gold Edition and its contents.
Star Trek Online’s official site is also supporting retailers, with links to several key outlets and promotions for the exclusive pre-order DLC they offer. The game was showcased at Eurogamer Expo and MCM Expo back in October and more appearances are planned for a range of sci-fi focused consumer events in the near future.
Finally, Namco Bandai has been working to raise awareness of Star Trek Online throughout the last year, with regular trailers and ‘behind the scenes’ videos released online, and revelations about iconic Trek stars lending their voice to the game, including Spocks young and old Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy.
With plenty of anticipation building within its target audience and little other activity from the franchise itself, the publisher is confident it will be able to dominate Trekkies’/Trekkers’ attentions when Star Trek Online hits shelves next month.
Says Bradley: “Star Trek Online will also be the only new entertainment product coming from the licence this year so with the renewed interest from the 2009 film, this is an excellent window to launch.”