I have seen enough MMO companies to recognize the symptoms.
Yes, it is a rough time for everyone, Cryptic and players alike. It is inevitable given that Cryptic made a loss of 5.3 euros (~4 million USD) last year
. Just looking at STO alone, it currently has less than 50,000 gold subscribers at this moment (frankly, looking at the amount of content and art assets STO has, I can tell needs at least 150k subscribers). Just doing some simple math, 50k x USD$15 x 12 months tells us STO's revenue is under 1 million at this point in time. If I assume roughly similar figures for Champions Online, that gives Cryptic a revenue of 2 million. This isn't even enough to cover last year's loss.
If I am not wrong, Cryptic is in fire fighting mode right now. They are doing what they need to do to get through this rough period, even if it means they have to jack up prices and employ all sorts of slightly unscrupulous marketing tricks to get the money they need to survive. If not, I can guarantee you that one year down the road both CO and STO will either be in yet another year of hell, get shutdown or get sold to some other game company.