Epic MMO Recap: The Week of (Unlimited) Fan Service

This week, MMO land saw World of Warcraft offer unlimited trials to the delight of test-first-before-subbing fans, but other games like RIFT and DC Universe Online also rolled out the charm offensive with quirky contests on YouTube and Facebook.

World of Warcraft

Like putting syrup on top of an already sinful sundae, Blizzard launched its new free trial program alongside its new major Patch 4.2. Known as the Starter Edition, each free trial account basically offers free play until level 20, albeit with tight restrictions in communications and trading that prevent Gold spammers from running rampant in the beginner areas.

At least one gaming news site has called the unlimited trial “a gateway drug”, referring to how the obvious strategy of making players feel invested in their toons to convince them to buy the game and pay monthly subs. Many agree this is an upgrade from the previous scheme where after two weeks the trial account expired and the toons in it deleted.


While Blizzard focused on getting new players on board the WoW train, Trion Worlds tried to galvanize its existing fanbase. Players can join the RIFTfan video contest by filming three-minute videos that show off their RIFT pride. The prize? A cameo appearance in the next official game video. It could be an ad, or a mash-up of “OMG RIFT is so great!” We don’t know. But it’s intriguing enough that they won’t have a problem getting those priceless raves.

DC Universe Online

Not to be outdone in the community engagement front, Sony Online Entertainment launched its own Facebook trivia contest for DC Universe Online. Answer enough of those villainous questions and you might become a permanent NPC in the game. There’s also a lot of superhero swag being given away like hats and posters. Sadly, no DCUO Cash for all you soda-guzzling players.

Final Fantasy XIV

To the relief of many fingers, auto-attack will be rolled out in Final Fantasy XIV pretty much in the format players demanded. The stamina gauge will be removed, and corresponding skills that relied on them reworked.

The basic changes will be rolling mid-July with Patch 1.18. Future patches will build up on the feature through the inclusion of multiple attacks activated by actions, traits and items. This should make the combat less taxing and repetitive, but still keep some of the tactics feel intact.

Casuals also get a reprieve after the Guildleves overhaul in Patch 1.18, basically making the content easier, less time-consuming and more rewarding in FFXIV Gil.

MMO developers seem to be brushing up on their people-pleasing skills. Which one tickled you the most? Sound off at the comments below!