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Print 4 comment(s) - last by ProfFarnsworth.. on Aug 21 at 1:44 PM

Free game trials are a perk with Xbox One Gold subscription and mirror smartphone game sales tactics, PC history

Redditors are reporting that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is experimenting with a new shareware system for the Xbox One, which allows users to play an unlimited 24-hour trial of a game before being forced to decide whether to purchase it.
 
Microsoft, of course, is no stranger to shareware, which helped to shape the early days of MS-DOS and Windows computers.  In the smartphone era shareware remains popular, if a bit underutilized. Most smartphone platform providers have for some time now been providing SDK features that allow gamemakers to offer temporary trials of games to stoke purchases.  
 
Console makers including Microsoft and Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) are rediscovering the sales tactic as well, and looking to offer it as an option to console developers.
 
The Microsoft trial has been observed with the game Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a fantasy action-puzzle genre game from indie developer Press Play.  The game has an average Metacritic score of around 70, with some reviewers calling it "nostalgic", "challenging", and even "one of the best games that you can buy for your new Xbox One."



Microsoft has yet to officially announce the feature.
 
The free trial was labeled "Free Play Day with Gold" and is available currently to Xbox Live Gold tier subscribers under the " Xbox One's Games with Gold" section of the console's internet-connected game store.  Previously "Games with Gold" had offered Gold tier subscribers such perks as 50-75 percent discounts on game downloads, and two free game downloads a month (within certain restrictions).
 
Normally a Gold tier subscription current retails for $60 USD for 12 months ($5 USD/month) if you purchase it directly from Microsoft via a subscription card.  But Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) is offering the same subscription card for ~$48 USD ($4 USD/month) at last check.
 
After initially being blasted for trying to use the stick of DRM to force users to buy used games through an official outlet and pay additional fees, Microsoft has certainly looked to win critics back, turning to tried and true carrot approaches such as shareware and discounts as an alternative to the abandoned used game restrictions.  So far that approaches has yielded a relatively positive attach rate for the console, although sales of consoles are still badly trailing Sony's PlayStation 4.

Sources: Reddit, via Eurogamer



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This may not be workable for bigger budget games
By Belegost on 8/21/2014 11:59:49 AM , Rating: 2
Given that many modern games have a play time hitting 8-10 hours with little replay value, it seems like people could play through entire games within the trial period. I doubt big name publishers would be on board with that.

That said, I do think this is a great way for indie devs to get more visibility, especially if they were to promote titles similar to the free-play weekends on Steam.




By dashrendar on 8/21/2014 12:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
It's going to be a tradeoff. I think this is the way big name publishers would look at this: What is the percentage of people that will finish a given game within a 24-hour window? What is the percentage of people that would buy the game if they actually tried the full game game out?

I think it's safe to say that a small percentage of people would finish an entire game within a 24-hour period.

So big name publishers might not like this for certain games, but not all of their games.

What do you think?


By inighthawki on 8/21/2014 12:52:03 PM , Rating: 2
There are very few people who will play a game for 8-10 hours straight in order to finish it in a single day.

But I think this promotion is likely more for multiplayer games, much like the free weekends you mentioned from Steam.


Steam does this already
By ProfFarnsworth on 8/21/2014 1:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
Steam does free weekend and including sale of said game. They do it I think about once a month but it's usually a big game like borderlands 2 or black Ops




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