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Opinion: Free level-capped MMO trials don't work

In our latest feature, Gamasutra contributor and MMO expert Simon Ludgate discusses the various methods that MMO developers can implement to bring their player base
In our latest feature, Gamasutra contributor and MMO expert Simon Ludgate discusses the various methods that MMO developers can implement to bring their player bases together, and keep their subscriber numbers high. When dissecting Trion Worlds MMO Rift's recent move to a capped level endless trial, he notes that this is "another tactic that hasn't worked well in other games." "World of Warcraft lost nearly 20 percent of its subscribers despite implementing an endless free trial up to level 20," he explains. "Warhammer Online saw players cancelling their subscriptions to play in the free trial because that was where all the PVP action was. And Lego Universe had to shut down when it found it was unable to convert free trial users into subscribers." He continues, "The problem with level capped free trials? It doesn't let people play together. Oh, sure, it technically allows them to cross paths, and subscribers could technically make low-level alts to play with free trial players." "But the reality is that most subscribers are going to be higher level than the free trial level cap and they'll never have any incentive, let alone opportunity, to play with them. Left on their own, free trial players are basically playing a single player game, and then asked if they want to sign up for a subscription to this single player game. It won't work. It can't." The full feature, which delves into MMO models from the likes of Final Fantasy XIV, EVE Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online, is now live on Gamasutra.

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