A few weeks ago Blizzard announced that D3 was going to have a free play option for low level characters (FAQ here). I’m not sure why I missed this initially, but perhaps the silly work and wow cycle was as much eye candy as I could take in.
Regardless, this is offering which I think is a benchmark for game distribution in today’s market: give the player an opportunity to see if they like your work. Do not expect that people will pay to test if the game sucks. They won’t. If they trail it, then they can pay for the full thing when it makes them happy, if not then they get caps and limits that might keep them interested periodically. That demo might be a week’s grace, or a level limit, or whatever style is suitable. Either way you get players who wish to play, not players who are angry about getting some of the money’s worth.
A long time ago I played and loved Master of Orion 1 and 2. When MoO3 was released I pre-purchased that game and regretted it straight away. It was a poor imitation of the old game, with bright and shiny graphics which did nothing to distract from the shitty actual play. A total waste. Since then I’ve been a mad and angry purchaser of any game product. Temple of Elemental Evil was a similar experience as while the game was technically playable the crash rate and list of things that when SNAP! was too large.
So now I rant about free to play capped options with furvor and wrath.
For Diablo 3’s free play option they chose a max level number like unlucky 13 for the free players. That is just too much fun. Well done guys, it made me smile.
The demonically-besieged world of Sanctuary needs heroes. Now you can join in the apocalyptic battle for FREE via the all-new Diablo® III Starter Edition. Available exclusively via Battle.net®, the Starter Edition allows you to fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, without having to purchase a copy of Diablo III.
Recently Star Wars did this too, and it was enough in the 7 days of trail time for me to know that it was not the game for me while I still wanted to play wow. If I get sick of wow, then SWToR might be an option. They even had free trail weekends which were great too. I can imagine that this added a few odd players into the pool. Perhaps there is a snarky comment to be made about giving it away for free, and that it might be a precursor to going fully free-to-play, but in 2012 I think that is still not a conclusion that is accurate.
Diablo 3 is enough of a game that I think I would have purchased it away way, especially as it has no ongoing subscription; but I might have avoided it early on if I hadn’t had a Blizzard annual pass. I feel the same way about trialing GuildWars2 – play it if its free to see if its good, but otherwise I’m not interested in paying box price to evaluate software anymore.
I generally assume that most games released are not worth it until I read staggeringly good reviews from multiple sources, and a friend says its good, and it is released. A little while ago I said “I’m planning a short return plunge into WoW briefly before playing Diablo 3, and possibly SWToR. I’ll wait till Panda-randa is released, then decide if I pick it up.” Now that more details are about I’ll probably buy MoP in advance. It is good enough and close enough that it is a low risk.
I still don’t like Pandas though. Perhaps that means I’m looking forward to killing a few.
- Trial Games and Distribution
- Diablo III FREE Starter Edition Now Available (us.battle.net)
- Play Diablo III for free up to level 13 (massively.joystiq.com)
- Diablo III Starter Edition Now Available to All (techie-buzz.com)
- News: Blizzard announces free Diablo III Starter Edition (atomicmpc.com.au)
- Diablo III Starter Edition is Available (kingtoko.wordpress.com)
- Blizzard Entertainment Releases Free Trial Version of Diablo 3 (games.com)
- Diablo III Starter Edition is now free (gamesradar.com)