Guild Wars 2 has a trial of free play going from September 25 to October 1, 2014 (sign up here). Since Guild Wars 2 is a one-time pay subscription, it seems like a smart idea to have only a small trial in which people can play for free without actually buying the game. It’s not.
Before I go into this, please understand that I do not think Guild Wars 2 is a bad game. On the contrary, I think it’s a wonderful game that offers so much for how much you pay when you subscribe. I’m not bashing the game its self, just the decision to have a strict 7 days of free trial.
Nobody ever talks about how amazing “the beginning” of Guild Wars 2 is. They talk about how good the graphics, story, characters and customization is, along with a few other things. One of the best things, in my opinion, is its combat system. The evade mechanic with rolling is extremely clever and balanced. The beginning is not the best part of the entire game, nor is it even comparable to the mid-game. Guild Wars 2 is harder to get into than other MMORPGs, mostly because it does something daring. It breaks the pattern of “grind-to-win” games and brings in a more “explorational” (is that a word? it is now) aspect to the MMORPG world. Grinding on monsters offers very little experience (exp) and there aren’t too many quests in small areas, thus you have to explore. Discovering new areas also gives a lot of exp, but it makes staying at any one area seem too insignificant. Why sit in a city when you can be out getting exp by walking around?
Guild Wars 2 shifted the balance and that is difficult to grasp for those who tried it from World of Warcraft or other popular MMORPGs. What a lot of other MMORPGs do is focus around a mix of grinding and questing, while giving small rewards for exploration. Guild Wars 2 shifts it to a mix of questing and large rewards for exploration.
While exploration and questing focus is okay, what the free trial for Guild Wars 2 doesn’t do is let people experience enough of the game to get hooked. Giving people only 7 days to play this game is an awful idea because they may have work or something else that causes them not to be able to play 4 hours a day. They don’t get very far in the game and don’t buy it because they didn’t have fun. They really should give people more of an opportunity to experience what the game has to offer. The person playing the free trial should not feel rushed when it comes to playing through some of the game. They should feel comfortable and as if they are playing at their own pace.
As for a potentially better method to get their game around and popular again, ArenaNet (the developers of Guild Wars 2) could have done something along the lines of what Blizzard did with World of Warcraft. They gave everyone a chance to have a free trial at any time of the year up to level 20. This allows you the chance to take your time and enjoy the game, while still having a lot of nice features hidden. At level 15 in World of Warcraft, dungeons become available, which is still part of the free trial.
All in all, Guild Wars 2 could have done a lot better with its free trial. It made the game seem too difficult to grasp and too different to want to grasp in such a short, inflexible period of time.