Friday, July 24, 2020

Intermittent FFXIV Players Better Off Starting Over On Expanded Free Trial

FFXIV apparently has so little need of intermittent revenue from low level, infrequent players, that it is willing to allow permanent free access to its first sixty levels including its entire launch game and first expansion.  Changing the trial so that someone who has the time to binge the game is able to play for a month straight could convince that player to stick around.  A telling side effect of the change is that I am apparently such a small fish that they don't care if I ever pay them again. 

In 2013, I played 2 months of FFXIV on both PC and PS3 (using the game's crossplay).  I tried a number of the game's jobs, ultimately leveling a character named Johari Jeutremie to 27 as an arcanist, and I always meant to go back someday. The game is about to launch a patch that overhauls the level 1-50 "main story quest" I never completed, and will allow new players as much game time as they would like without paying. There may never be a better time to revisit the game.

Unfortunately, Johari is not invited.  "Upgrading" a trial account to a paid account is a permanent, one-way process that forever cuts off access to the free trial, even if you are nowhere near the trial's level cap. I can afford the subscription fee, but I would inevitably play once and cancel 65 days later, having been billed twice more without having logged in again. I would be paying to get less access to the game than I would as a free player able to come back for a day every few months if I want, when I am unlikely to finish the story and first expansion's level cap in the foreseeable future.  Even if I did someday hit the trial's level cap, it could rise again in the future; I would be locked out all over again if I paid. 

The only sensible choice is for me to start over and never pay again. I don't love free-loading, but it isn't personal. A single player who becomes a year-round subscriber is worth more than a dozen tourists like myself, and my hypothetical $13 isn't worth risking making it easier for current subscribers not to pay year round.


  1. Welcome back. Nice five year pause, there!

    I just posted about this earlier today. I also played for one month at launch, then stopped when the 30 days that came with the purchase ended.

    I already made a second account, though, when they instituted the original free trial. I played my new character almost up to the Level 35 cap without doing any of the Main Story Quest, which had been one of the things that drove me away in the first place.

    I posted about how much better the fre trial was than the paid version and for my tastes that's absolutely true. It applies to Lord of the Rings Online, too, and it applied to the old "silver" version of EQII. Even the very limited WoW free trial has given me far more hours of fun and amusemsent than the full version. I tend to find the restrictions of these kind of trials pare the game down to the interesting parts.

    I love freeloading so I have no qualms about taking advantage of this odd anomaly. I also don't in the least mind paying if I want the alternative version. I kept paying my SOE All Access sub for five years even though I spent 90% of my time on my other, free account. I also said at the time that I would happily have paid the sub to have the F2P restrictions added to my subbed account, which would have worked beter for me because then I'd have had all my characters in one place.

    I will definitely have another run around FFXIV when the new trial begins. I fancy getting as far as the flying mount, at least.

    1. It's funny, part of why I trailed off in blogging was that I felt I'd go to write something only to discover that I'd said basically the same thing a few years ago, and also several other people have already written the same post. :)

      In my past MMO lives I've had both the experience of "beating the business model" and of realizing that I am spending a ton of my very limited time coping with a game system that would cost me like a buck to bypass. (Less positively, sometimes the pain points remain in place even if you pay!) The games I used to play, like LOTRO, EQ2, and SWTOR, would let you subscribe for a month here and there and it wouldn't break your account. I wonder if Square is going to end up with a ton of customer service requests from people who regret buying the box but don't want a refund, just their trial account back.

      Realistically I should follow in your footsteps. It has been so long that I barely remember the story or how the character works (which has also probably been updated), and if they have increased the speed of the 2.0 MSQ I'll probably surpass my old account quickly if I put any significant time in it. The real dilemma is what to do with a level 60 trial account, but that's a long way from now.

      I don't have the time to maintain two accounts in the same game - frankly it's arguable whether I have time for even one.

  2. Welcome back!

    Maybe they've taken a lesson from telcos where they won't even tell you when you can get more stuff for less money and happily let you pay your old plan, and on the other hand give out whatever free stuff and discounts to new customers and nothing to the people who have been customers for years...

    I also have some slight case of deja-vu, but I can't for the life of me remember which MMO did something like this a while ago.

    1. I remember some disgruntlement about recruit-a-friend programs in some games in the early 2010's. I think people accept free trials, not charging for old expansions, and that newbies generally benefit from quality of live improvements that make it easier to play than it was at launch. The concern is when the new account has things that veteran players want and can't get.

      For example, I think every new character I made in EQ2 would get a care package that was part of the incentive when I signed up. Veteran players rolling new alts did not have access to a similar bonus.

  3. Wow, welcome back!

    DAoC has a similar problem. You can access the game for free forever as long as you never give them money. However, if you decide to sub the status of your account changes and from then on you have to stay subbed or you lose access to your account for three months any time you let your sub lapse. So basically never sub unless you plan to sub forever . . .

    It's baffling.

    1. It's not entirely baffling and I get that it isn't personal. The game costs money to host and develop new content year around, and it's a problem if people beat the game and drop down to unpaid status until the next patch.

      Square probably has data saying that most people either quit anyway or else reach level 60. So it's only a small subset of people who are in my shoes of being worse off if they actually buy the game.

    2. Well to be fair even the restrictions in DAoC were obviously put into place to make current players hesitate before dropping down to a free account. However for me the 120 day lockout there has been a good argument of never reupping my sub at all, since I'm able to play all of my more established for free characters already. I might be tempted to sub up for a month or two just to add more of the restriced classes to my account otherwise.

      More on topic, this deal in FFXIV will probably be enough to get me to try it eventually.


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