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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: A Lack of Free Trials?

Posted by MikeB Monday June 17 2013 at 2:57AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Why are newer games backing away from giving trials?" by Razeekster.

Razeekster says:

None of the new games that that have come out the past couple years give them. For example, to play Guild Wars 2 or the Secret World your only option to be able to try it out is to wait for one of their very rare free weekends. I just don't understand why these newer games wouldn't want players to try them out for 10-14 days like other P2P games do (or to level 20 like WoW does and like RIFT used to do before it went free to play). I mean, they'd probably be getting more customers that way because people may go, "Oh, hey, this is pretty fun! I'm going to buy it/pay for it now!"

So, why is it that there seem to be fewer free trials these days? Find out what the community had to say below!

WereLlama (awesome name) brings up pattern filtering as a possible reason:

This has been discussed on Gamasutra.

I believe the summary is that due to there being  so much competition, demos or trials have become an opportunity for would be players to pattern filter the game away. They are much less likely to try the final version.


Oh its isometric, Next.

Oh its first person, Next.

Oh its tab targeting, Next.

Oh it has cartoon graphics, Next.

Oh they have a in-game shop, Next.

Then women have clothes on, Next.


If the Dev's wait until the game is done with a viable emotional investment model, they can get the players to stick it out.

You get 30 seconds of the player's attention, tops!


Quizzical offers an interesting take:

You don't want everyone who will ever play your game to get in on launch day.  Rather, it's much better to maintain a fairly stable playerbase, for a number of reasons.

Different players will time when they start a game differently, for reasons of their own.  Some want to play on launch day, others want to wait for a free trial before potentially buying a game, and still others will wait until a game goes "free to play".  Each of those events, as well as releasing expansions and certain very major patches, can bring in a flood of new or returning players that causes the playerbase to spike upward.

Thus, if there are a number of events that you know will cause the playerbase to spike upward, and you can time then to whenever you want, you try to time them to happen when the playerbase would otherwise have been sagging.  That will keep the playerbase steadier than if you caused a spike in population when it was already going up.  And in particular, you don't want to time two of the events too close to each other.

So first you release a game without a free trial.  Then you offer a free trial later, once the playerbase is declining and you feel the need to do something about it.  And which are the games that you're noticed don't have a free trial?  Precisely the newer ones--that is, the ones that haven't gotten to the point where it makes sense to offer a free trial just yet.

dumpcat blames the gold sellers:

It's because of gold sellers. Same old story...a few bad apples ruin it for the good ones.

The reality is that developers and publishers will offer free trials when it is most advantageous for them to do so. It's just that simple. These are typically timed around new patches or maybe dips in population or any number of situations. In any case, as more and more MMOs go the F2P route, the need for a free trial is becoming obsolete. I can't really tell you why Guild Wars 2, as a B2P title, doesn't offer them more frequently, but I wouldn't say that because GW2 isn't doing these often that other B2P titles down the line won't. It's frankly too early to say. The sample size is just too small at the moment.

What's your take? Share it with us in the comments below!

mmobootsy writes:

I suspect, beside the gold selling issue, that publishers believe there is enough information about their game out in the open: beta programs, first impressions and reviews, developer walkthroughs, gameplay videos, and so on.

Personally I usually find there is enough information for me to make a judgement call on a B2P / P2P game before spending my money. Of course, the proof of the pudding is ultimately in the eating, I could get burned, but this is rarely the case.

I certainly don't think that subscription games are dead either. They are definitely in the minority, but many so called F2P games offer subs too, that in the cases of the most popular games probably are used by 100,000s of players.

Mon Jun 17 2013 7:07AM Report writes:
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