MMO’s Need Demos

MMO’s need demos and trials right from launch. TERA came out yesterday and I really want to try it, but they don’t have a trial available and I’m not going to jump into the game after reading so many mixed reviews.

MMO’s have the whole free month thing, but that’s after you buy the game.  I’d be interested in a three day trial to see what the games are like.  I don’t want to be bothered by getting into beta just to have a laggy, buggy, or unpleasant experience from an unoptimized client that might not be finalized.   There’s any number of reasons why you might miss a beta test: small play windows, exclusivity, random draw, etc.  Beta these days is also turning into a VIP club you can’t participate in without having purchased the game anyway.  Have a trial period right away at launch.  Limit the levels or places players can go, and block trades and chat so they don’t become gold farmer throw-aways.  It doesn’t have to be the full game experience.

Console games have demos all the time, and often they are the biggest reason I decide to buy.  I may have no idea what a game is about, or be completely unsure if I’m even interested, but I’ll play the demo and find out the game is actually really good.  I just played the Dragon’s Dogma and Walking Dead demos, and had so much I’ve decided to buy them.

They could also utilize bonuses for trying the demo like The Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and Mass Effect demos.  In Dragon’s Dogma, you can import pre-made characters you make in the demo into the retail version when it comes out so you have your character made and ready to go.

I know I probably don’t understand the big picture about why they don’t have them — I assume there’s a reason — but for me they matter a lot in my decision to buy.

  • If you enjoy linear questing and fluffy cute and sexualized environments then it may appeal to you. I hear the BAM fights are suppose to be fun but I couldnt stomach the leveling and art style so I never got past level 12 in any of the 3 betas I tried.

    Supposedly it has a good single faction PvP system on the PvP servers but in reality it all turns to gank fests.

  • Most MMOs don’t have trials at launch, because of server load problems, but it’s very likely that once players start leaving they’ll open up a trial at some point. 🙂

  • TERA had buddy codes that you could give out during the headstart period. They’ve gone away for launch, but I imagine that they will give them out again as soon as launch calms down.

    As for TERA itself, I’m finding it a great deal of fun, though I’m not sure exactly why. The questing is archaic, the female armor is hilariously skimpy, but the combat is fun, and even group play is interesting. I’m playing a Lancer tank, and it’s just so awesome when you block a big hit at the exact right time.

    Also, the female characters ride sidesaddle on horses because they’re wearing miniskirts. Somehow, that perfectly sums up the game for me.

  • Agree completely with the need for some way to try out these games.

    This post, and some of the comments above, are the first remotely negative things I’ve heard about TERA up to this point. Even with the overwhelmingly positive comments I was coming across I was still hesitant to shelve out money for the game. TOR had a similar level of overwhelmingly positive feedback, yet I can barely stand the game and now many of those same folks who were initially high on it have since changed their tune.

    I read a comment not too long ago (it may have been here) that a good rule of thumb to follow is give an MMO three months. By that time if you’re still hearing good things, and especially if server numbers and populations have held constant, it’s probably a good enough sign that it’s worth spending money on.

  • We have 1+ hour queues on my EU server. We’d appreciate it if you didn’t send more people our way. Thank you.
    Also, yes. Very eastern-y and grindy. Stay away from it.

  • It would be nice to extend that idea to other areas like politics. You try them 2 days and if not working ask for a refund (of taxes naturally).

    In fact videogames are becoming so expensive (€60 average now) that I don’t buy any more without trying. I was on the fence with Diablo 3 and their trial week end gave me the information I needed to decide that I could wait…

  • Absolutely. I grow deeply suspcious of the MMOs that announce “Lifetime Membership Deals” even before launch and GW2 has gone so far as to ask people to Pay to Beta Test it, let alone get to see the finished game before commiting funds.

    I’m glad there’s bloggers like yourselves willing to essentialy demo it for me!

  • You decided to buy Dragons Dogma based on the demo? I just downloaded it and played thru it last night and was left with quite a lot of mixed feelings. On one hand I liked the non cartoonish look of the game, especially that bad ass sheild summons 🙂 However, things felt so hectic during combat that I could not even see half of the time what was going on… the ‘pawns’ were always in the way of the camera. Just felt like a mixed bag to me.

    It was pretty spectacular when I cut off the tail of that lion headed monster though.

    Also, agreed, free trial at least for an MMO or I do not fork over my $60.00 I often do not have to worry about no trials though since I tend to wait a few months before I get into an MMO, I like to let the launch bugs and insanity pass first.

  • They did have an open beta a week before launch that anyone could try. I tried the beta and got hooked. I don’t agree with all the grindy comments, from what I have seen and read the westernized version removed the Korean grind elements. Yeah the quests are pretty generic standard mmo fare but the combat and environment/mob design are really enjoyable.

    And as was mentioned above most mmos these days have trial offers a little while after launch once population has stabilized. Otherwise you have a ton of trial players hammeering the servers, leading to either long queues or them bringing on more servers that are ghost towns if the trial players don’t purchase.

  • I was being sarcastic. TERA is in no way as grindy as Aion was. Although the combat is so much fun that it doesn’t bother anyone at all.
    I actually find myself missing fighting when i’m off running errands in the city, or going back and forth buying glyphs or whatever.
    But really, stay away from it. Right now it’s too crowded as it is. Come back next month or something.

  • Tera is a localized Asian port yes, it’s pretty TERAble imo. It’ll go the way of Aion, bit push at the start then fade into mediocrity rather quickly. It’s still just a game of mash buttons like a monkey, the industry needs to get away from that garbage.

  • Graev and I were talking last night about this, and the thought came to us that perhaps a single-player version of the games would be the solution to avoid trial accounts clogging the servers at launch. Some sort of newbie experience that can be downloaded.

  • I have to agree.
    I have no idea why new mmorpg do not have a trial/demo.

    Put it on a seperate server so paying customers have no negative experiences with the “free” crowd
    Just rent an extra server. You have to invest in order to reap the rewards. (more players)

  • Simplest answer would be ‘Our game sucks and we want your money’. Lots of Hype with early positive Press Reviews means you’ll get 250% of the actual players that will still be playing your game in 6 months (SWTOR, Warhammer, Age of Conan – big initial player injection, followed by slow/fast decline).

    As a business, do you want a big cash injection at release? or gamble with a trial, that may take away your impatient buyers that are prepared to spend money, rather than wait 3 months for a trial.

  • @Keen the problem is that for MMORPGs, the whole game is based on a client/server architecture, and most if not all interactions with the world are done server side. What you suggest would require to code at least a part of the server into an offline client, because rewriting everything to be playable solo would require even more work.
    Not saying it’s impossible, but that would require a lot of work and would also require the company to risk releasing a part of their server side code to the public.

  • Tera had 3 months worth of “demos”. Tera is yet another in the recent line of “AAA” MMOs that have had several “Open Beta Weekends” for players to check out the game. While these are typically not actually “beta” and more along the lines of a 98% finished product, they are more akin to the demo/trial that you are asking for.

    Yes, I agree that there really should be a “level to 20 for free” trial like WoW and other games have. Yet the current model is something that started with Aion and has been copied by Rift, SWTOR and now Tera. Its a trend that Anet has obviously gotten on board with to some extent with the Guild Wars 2 BWEs that prepurchasers have access to. I for one will be surprised if we do not see a truly “open” beta before Guild Wars 2 launches.

  • Agreed 100%. Given the current state of MMOs, I’m completely unwilling to pay full price, let alone subscribe, just to try out a game. (Got burned with Rift and that’s the last time that happens…)

    A demo wouldn’t even require limiting levels or classes; just limit world access to a small zone (e.g. newbie zones in WoW) and/or apply a time limit (e.g. 60 min.). Then if players are having fun and want more, they can subscribe (or in Guild Wars’ case, pay a one-time purchase price) for full world access.

    Of course, this also requires strong marketing about the world so that players actually want to see the rest of it.

    What it really comes down to though, is that current MMO developers are just making shallow games now, not persistent worlds; there’s no way they are going to reveal how superficial their games are by providing free demos.

    Although, Age of Conan comes to mind, with its bait-and-switch polished facade. No demo would have helped there; players still would have been misled into purchasing, believing they were getting a detailed persistent world. Certainly any other MMO developer could follow Funcom’s lead with their demo: Polish it up to look amazing, when in fact the “real” MMO still ends up being just another vapid McMMO.

    So (maybe I’m just too jaded these days) I’m not sure having demos would even be that beneficial… =(