With the blockbuster new Star Trek movie, the history of the future of Earth has been rewritten… or has it?

There’s a new Star Trek online role playing game hitting soon, and the creators have released two videos detailing the background and history that informs the game. Star Trek Online takes place 30 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, the last Next Generation movie, and the two videos fill in the gaps between that movie and the game. But while the Romulan star empire plays a major role in that history, there’s no mention of the destruction of the Romulan homeworld, Romulus, which according to Star Trek takes place right after Nemesis.

This is 100% not a big deal. It has no impact or bearing on anything and only  two kinds of people should care about this: hardcore Trek fans and people fascinated with how big modern mythologies play out. In this case I’m in the second camp, and it’s interesting to see that the game ignores the new continuity and keeps going ahead in the old. This could mean that the Star Trek franchise has fractured into two halves: the new, sexed up continuity, which will appeal to the masses, and the old continuity, which will continue to be explored in books, games, comics and other non-canon ephemera.

If that’s the case it’s brilliant on Paramount’s part. Nobody’s going to pay to see Next Generation or Voyager or DS9 movies. But there is a large population who will pay to read books or play games set in that continuity, and there will likely be a steady stream of product for those people. Paramount’s having its cake and eating it too – a hot new franchise brings in the big bucks while the stodgy old nerdy franchise is a reliable moneymaker on its own.

This obviously isn’t the only time we’ve seen geek properties have multiple continuities, but I think it could end up being the biggest; I wouldn’t be surprised if the continued future of Star Trek ends up being show in webisodes or something like that – maybe even a new TV show in a couple years time. And that leads to a whole third source of revenue, where you have books and comics that feature the new Enterprise cast being transported into the future of the original continuity or something. If someone hasn’t done a comic featuring Chris Pine Kirk meeting William Shatner Kirk it’s only a matter of time.

There’s something fun and exciting about this. Everybody gets their universe, and keeping the OG universe around will be helpful when the new Trek stalls out after four films (I’m not saying that it’s bad or anything, just that the public will lose interest in a decade, and you can’t keep the actors locked in forever like you could with the original cast. Chris Pine will be a huge star by the time Star Trek III rolls around and he’ll be itching to get out of the captain’s chair). Then they’ll have two revenue streams of extended universe content on which to rely.

There’s a lot of money to be made from geeks.

UPDATE: Some folks have let me know that the game does take into account the destruction of Romulus. The big question, I guess, is does it take into account the destruction of Vulcan in the new movie? I suspect not (although lord knows I could be wrong again), meaning this is still an alternate reality continuity.

Here are the videos, found via SciFi Wire.