Hello once more, this is Riknas speaking! You guys remember free trials right? It was that thing that we used a lot before Dungeons and Dragons Online and Warhammer started their “FOREVER FOR FREE” trial where the page designer jammed his hands on the caps-lock key and we all said “THIS IS THE NEW ERA”. I’m going to be honest. This is going to be an issue.
First of all, people are still using free trials (as well as one paid trial). That said, this isn’t to say no one else has fallen in line to try unlimited plays. Funcom has finally given all of Tortage for free in their unlimited trial; just as well, so has Cryptic with Champions Online. Now if you’ll bear with me, let’s focus on one specific word Champions used.
Demo. Interesting word, in my opinion at least. This is most often used in single player games, if anything. And yet, it seems brilliantly fitting in this situation. Here, is where I believe that we are able to finally draw the line between a Free to Play game and a Pay to Play game. Transcending past the concept of a box price, how much of the game are you able to play before they tell you to start paying? Both AoC and CO really use a demo, and the same goes for Warhammer (I’m not clear enough on DDO). They have set a bar in their game. This is the defining factor between a game with an optional subscription and an unlimited free trial. These games didn’t go Free to Play, they just offered a wider opening to try the game and get people to start paying. “FREE TO PLAY FOREVER!” Get over yourself, this is just a demo to see if the game is worth buying. While hardly shifting the way games are made, “demos” for MMOs may be a better model then hoping they’ll buy your game after a week or two.
((This archive post has been edited to remain more accurate in today’s market))