Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rift Trial Servers - Is this a good idea?

Apparently the imminent 1.3 patch for Rift will be creating dedicated trial servers.  Only trial accounts will be able to make characters on a trial server, and if a player chooses to subscribe to the game they'll be able to transfer to a normal server of their choice for free.

This seems like a rather odd thing to do.  On the one hand I can see a benefit -- spammers won't be able to use trial accounts to harass paying customers since they'll be segregated by server.  On the other hand, it doesn't seem conducive to creating an environment that will encourage trial players to actually subscribe to the game.  The population will be incredibly unstable, as players either decide the game isn't for them and stop playing or subscribe and move to a different server.  Rift is a game where population density is very important, since events and rifts respond dynamically to player population.  Unless the trial servers have a constant stream of incoming players to keep the population high I can't imagine playing on a trial server will be much fun.

Plus, one of the ways in which trial players can be retained is by allowing them to become part of their server community, make friends, and so not want to leave when the trial is up.  That's going to be hard on a trial-account-only server as instead of joining a community and sticking with it, players will likely have momentary acquaintances who disappear every day and IF the choose to subscribe they'll have to pick a server and hope to find a welcoming community there.  It doesn't strike me as very welcoming.

Now, one would hope that Trion has data showing how many trial players they currently have and how many new trials are created each month, such that a dedicated trial server will have a reasonable population.  Hopefully.  Still, I'm not sure there are enough benefits to having a segregated trial server to make it worth risking potential customers.  Anyone else see benefits to this that I'm missing?


  1. The one positive thing I can envision from this would be that all the people on the trial server will generally be like minded individuals. They will be looking for people to make contacts and relationships with that they can carry on through to the server that they ultimately choose.

    Often in newbie areas on regular servers, there are a couple new players and a lot of veterans that are trying to level alts. Typically these people are not interested in meeting new people, grouping, helping out etc. They just want to spend as little time in the newbie area as possible.

  2. That could be. I suppose it's possible if the population stays high enough the trial server could perpetually provide the equivalent of Rift's first few weeks, and that would certainly be a good thing.

    Silverwood in the first couple of weeks post release was a bustling hotbed of fun activity. Nowadays . . . not so much.

  3. Floating more on the side of silver lining, yeah, the like minded individuals thing is a big one. They don't have to restrict chat functions on that server, and you'll always have somebody to try out low level content and Rift hunt with. Sure, you can't really get in with a community, but you get more of the game without most of the playerbase being at max level.

  4. Maybe I should make a trial account and see what it's like. Might be interesting!

  5. Unfortunately, I'm on one of those servers that cut over to trial. I actually spent most of my time helping newbies, so I'm really not a happy camper. The trial servers aren't going to have any sort of decent end-game activity (though the queues will be short for warfronts :) and the other servers are going to be relatively newbie free.

    It's too bad that you can't live on a "real* server and pop over to the trial server to help out as a high-level volunteer. It's a lot of fun watching noobs get excited over green items, a few pieces of gold or a heal tossed on them at a rift. It's also fun playing pied piper with a chain of a dozen low level characters following you around the landscape and then standing back and watching them get all excited that they could take out an invasion that your pet could solo :)

    Newbies are fun and I'm going to miss them. (though I won't miss the spammers). I know that there will still be some in the main servers, but most of them are going to be alts or people that hooked up with a group in trial and came over together.

  6. Rhaenaan, I'm curious, what is the population like on the trial servers? Are there a lot of trial players?

  7. I'm glad I saw this post. I just started my Rift trial. Although I saw "trial" next to some of the servers, I didn't really pay attention. I also refused the "suggested" server (I always do when playing an MMO), so I ended up on an empty server. I like the game, but I've leveled up to 10 and only seen 2 other players - not encouraging. I'm thinking about activating and moving to a "real" server before I pass judgement.