Whether or not you believe Stahl's word, I think that it is also worth noting that this would go contrary to PWE's general business model, so far as I understand it.
While I do not believe that Cryptic has PWE breathing down their neck quite so much as many people think - different corporate cultures and structures do work in different ways, after all, and buying a company often means that the company is not micromanaged or eaten, simply owned by another person/organization - I do think that after they have gone to a large amount of effort to swap to a highly F2P model, PWE would look very unkindly at attempting such a move... particularly if it failed.
As I understand it, part of what makes F2P work is that you're giving the paying customers a lot of people to play with. If the new goodies do not have a lot of people to play with, while some aspects may work out well, others would be pretty 'meh' and chances are the end result is that someone would have a lot of explaining to do.
I don't think Cryptic is very beholden to PWE's business model. I really don't think PWE has mandated very much at all for STO.
I think Cryptic saw PWE's notes and that the bulk of the PWE-like things Cryptic does come from devs beneath Stahl cribbing PWE's notes, not PWE mandates.
And I think PWE's big thing is, in essence: "Make a western F2P MMO as profitable as an eastern F2P game. We don't care how you do it."
So I think the next trick is probably cribbing from Sony's model with EQ and DCUO.
And regardless of anything else, I think the idea that people won't have to pay to roll a Romulan is borderline delusional when the devs keep saying that the May update will redefine how factions get rolled out going forward.
I wouldn't be terribly shocked if, after May, Silver accounts can't create new Klingons either without paying a Klingon unlock fee.
Ahh, but the trick is, everything behind a paywall in STO is also not behind a paywall. It's easy to write that fact off because of how godawful the grind can be to get past the paywall, but the fact that alternative even exists, and it renders everything in STO acquirable without dropping a dime, is still significant.
And this goes back to my take that all factions will get the same missions, more or less, and that fixing the Klingons probably involves giving them access to all of the Fed missions and the Feds access to most or all of the Klingon missions.
At that point, the paywalled content might be reduced to 1-2 missions and a tutorial.
Ultimately, I don't think PWE would like significant content behind a paywall.
But if missions get redone so that all factions get access to all missions and factions get redefined as unique species, ships, flavor text, starting hub, and no more than 1-2 unique missions that aren't offered to other factions... Then it works generally with PWE's philosophy. And I don't think Cryptic is required to adhere EXACTLY.
But if missions get redone so that all factions get access to all missions and factions get redefined as unique species, ships, flavor text, starting hub, and no more than 1-2 unique missions that aren't offered to other factions...
I don't think this will happen, even though it should. Cryptic is just not intelligent enough to do the obvious thing.
If they don't have the ressources to support multiple factions 100% - and they proved over and over that they don't - then what you describe is what NEEDs to happen sooner or later to ensure proper playability. Just look at KDF event queues. Things need to be unified, end of story.
They just string us further and further along because they don't have the balls to admit it to the players. Meanwhile things just get worse and worse.
You guys got it all wrong, all this talk is about a faction lock box, where all the perks and other stuff for a faction are extremely rare drops in order to unlock the faction. And if you are lucky or well rich enough to finally unlock the faction. You will find out that this only unlocks to level 23, all the levels above it require 865 lobi for each level to unlock plus 754 lobi per ship. Oh, to unlock the your new character's bank and inventory slots, it will cost 45.000 dilithium per slot.
Stahl said many times that there would never would be any paid expansions or updates of STO. And given they are hiring more people for the STO team, I don't get the impression they are in a financial crunch that would mandate the need to go back on that word.
Honestly, the impression I got with that Lifetimer comment with "Season 8" is that Lifetimers would likely get somekind of unique item or Perk that other players would not. Similar how players get unique rewards for Tribble Testing.
looooooll... wow, stahl also said that the c-store would only be for cosmetic upgrades, and would never have any effect on the game. after he broke that, he said that going free to play was gonna make the c (z) store less expensive, when in reality prices went up..
i will garuntee that this "not season 8" (as defined by another player), is gonna introduce some of the most expensive gated content we have ever seen in game..
but alas, i am a lifetimer, so i have no worries (or do i).. i feel that eventually, pwe and cryptic are gonna get sick of getting very little money from us lifers and do something to enrage us..
What the OP is saying does make a ton of sense. Think about it.
1) Romulans will be a mini faction. They will not have a ton of new missions attached to them likely instead using existing Fed or KDF missions most likely.
2) Race unlocks already cost Zen, this would simply be an extension of that.
3) When the rumor was started about the character creator being modified and options locked behind a payway the Flake immediately jumped to the rescue squashing the rumor because of how fast rumors get out of control. He has yet to deny this. To me that means in some way it is true even if the details are off.