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According to this interview at IGN, new chief Stephen D'Angelo claims it was Atari's decision not to launch the game as a F2P offering.
".......according to Stephen D'Angelo, Executive Producer on STO and Chief Technical Officer. "We've always wanted the game to be free-to-play," he says, "in fact we tried to make it free-to-play at the original launch, but our publisher Atari didn't want us doing that so we didn't do that." "
I want a mmorpg where people have gone through misery, have gone through school stuff and actually have had sex even. -sagil