Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trial Only Servers

Rift's previously announced free server transfers have gone live with some remaining kinks - for instance, the crowded Faeblight server was initially on the destination list, only to be removed by the time you're reading this.  That aside, there's an interesting detail that may have been previously announced, but was news to me - the game will now have "trial account only shards" where subscribers will not be allowed to create characters, and will be prompted suggesting that they remove any characters they made while they were trial accounts via the new free transfer feature. 

Cynical comments about EQ2X aside, I don't know of any game that segregates its free trial population in this manner.  There are very good reasons for doing so - beyond the traditional gold spammers and level 1-10 general chat trolls, Rift seems to plan on continuing to do one-time server events that encourage queues, and adding trial accounts to that mix is bound to leave someone unhappy. 

That said, what will the community be like on a server populated entirely with trial accounts (and perhaps a few rebellious players who make new accounts and convert them to paid accounts for the sole purpose of being amongst the few players on the server to go beyond the trial level cap)?  Will that environment be at all conducive to actually converting trial players into paying customers?  Will the current referral program allow players out of the newbie leper colony to play with their friends who are already in game? 

I'm not saying that it will work, or that it won't work, but someone who wants a sociology paper may have topic in waiting here. 


DocHoliday said...

Are trial accounts prevented from being on the "normal" servers? If so, then I agree with you this will be a very interesting look into Telara.

I wonder if there's a magic level when you need to move off that server when you subscribe or if they'll just nudge you over as soon as you sub.

Klepsacovic said...

That sounds like an excellent way to not give trials an accurate impression of the game community while also causing an abrupt server change just for paying for the game.

Maybe they're hoping trial players will band together, safe from the big mean paying players?

Green Armadillo said...

@Doc: They specifically said that players would be prompted on login to move, which makes it sound non-forced - as Klep suggests, you might see an odd subculture of people who choose to stay for one reason or another.

It is worth noting that they referred to using these servers for "events". I would imagine that the low level population is not that high on many live server nowadays, and I don't think (could be wrong) Rift has an anytime free trial option currently. Perhaps they're planning to hold periodic open week/weekends on a temporary trial server, ensuring nice (if unrepresentative) high pop for the lowbies and actually take the things down at the end of the trial events?

Starseeker said...

I think it's actually an interesting Idea. EQ2X didn't work well IMO because you can't transfer from EQ2X to Live, and they segrgated the community to different forums.

In this instance, you have trial shards, where your free trials go (saving your other shards from spam etc). On a free trial I believe zones are locked anyways so you can only go to like the first zone (silverwood/freemarch) and possibly the next one (gloamwood/Stonefield) before you have to subscribe. Having a trial "shard" means that all of your free trials will be at the same place populating the trial zones, making silverwood/freemarch a place to meet people. On other shards those zones can be fairly empty since everyone is close or at level cap.

So, I think Trion's thinking is they kill a few birds with one stone.
1. They don't have trial accounts clogging up queues for events
2. they have trial accounts on the same shard for population i lower zones.
3. No 1-10 spammers
4. Free transfers to a server.

Once a trial account makes some friends on the trial shard, they could just say ok, we are subbing, everyone transfer to x shard so we can make a guild.

With this plan you don't "have" to leave your friends that you make on your shard or your character like EQ2x. Instead you can just transfer it all to a "live" shard and continue on. Seems fairly smart to me.

Yeebo said...

It's certainly an interesting solution to spamming trial accounts. I can;t help but wonder though if the community on these trail only servers will be so bad that they will turn off some new players.

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