Free stuff just for reading this blog post!


One of the most interesting classes that was part of my college business major was a survey of marketing techniques. It wasn’t exhaustive by any means, but the class really did open my eyes to how products and services are sold to people by playing on our weaknesses and manipulating our emotions and perspectives.

I was thinking about that marketing class lately in regard to how MMOs get us to pay attention to them. After all, there are thousands of online titles out there of varying degrees of popularity, polish, and content — if you were in charge of marketing one of them, how would you get the word out? How would you get eyeballs on your product and convince players to spend their time (and hopefully money) on it?

The answer is undoubtedly a multi-faceted approach, but I’ll tell you one thing that works pretty well almost all of the time: giving away free stuff. Man, we like free stuff, don’t we? I’ve seen grown men and women at conventions — people who have lucrative jobs and disposable incomes — go absolutely insane at the prospect of getting a free t-shirt. It doesn’t matter if their wardrobes are completely full, it’s the idea of getting something for free that makes it highly desirable. And companies know this and use the t-shirt like a doggie treat, waving it around as we salivate and do whatever they say to get it.

Giving freebies away as promotions is a great idea for MMOs. Lately I’ve been a sucker for two such promotions. Star Trek Online had several giveaways for its Season 11, which got me to redownload the game and log in a few times. Then this past weekend, Trion gave away free class tokens in Trove for some extended downtime, and even though I wasn’t party to the suffering there, I’ll gladly take advantage of free stuff.


It’s free!

And I know deep down that it’s pretty silly. Most giveaways aren’t really that special and they’re cheap marketing ploys (especially if it’s just something digital that doesn’t cost the studio anything to hand out). But there’s a jolt of excitement that I enjoy, and if it gets my attention on a game that’s actually kind of fun.

It’s why it’s a smart idea to do daily login rewards, because that’s going deeper with the whole notion. Get players hooked on the idea that every single day they’ll get something free if they log in for just one minute. And if they’re logged in, heck, they might just play. At the very least, it keeps the game on their radar.

I know I was logging into Guild Wars 2 for months after regularly playing it just to get the rewards. I finally stopped because I knew I wasn’t going to be using any of them and it was getting a little ridiculous to keep chasing those freebies.

Anyway, free stuff. Does it hook you? And were you really hoping for something free in this post?

Well I’ll tell you what: You got a free article full of entertaining paragraphs and thoughtful analysis of marketing techniques. You’re welcome! I’ll even toss in a virtual hug for nothing.


11 thoughts on “Free stuff just for reading this blog post!

  1. Dobablo November 5, 2015 / 9:08 am

    I just started playing STO just because Razer were doing a free officer pack and got lucky in that the free Enterprise pack came out a day later. If it wasn’t for them I would have never bothered with the download.

  2. Chrissy The Blesser November 5, 2015 / 9:08 am

    *Grumbles* *Feels tricked by deceptive advertising AGAIN* But hey, I will NEVER Turn down a hug. 😀 *Chrissy Hugs* ❤

  3. Aywren November 5, 2015 / 9:10 am

    Sometimes games hook me with freebies – it really depends on what the freebies are.

    The only reason I still log into GW2 at all since Season 2 ended is the daily free items. And not because I want the free items, but because you can eventually work up to free experience tomes every week (with a big tome payout every month). Since GW2 introduced their dailies, I have leveled 3 characters to 80 using only the free experience tomes. I’m currently working on my 4th character.

    The truth is, I’m not even sure why I’m doing it since I don’t have a lot of interest in playing the game anymore. But free levels are free levels. It seems a waste to have all these alts (some which I wanted to deck out in cosmetics once they got to level cap), and never finish leveling any of them. It takes so little effort to simply log in and claim, that they have hooked me with that.

    Who knows… one day I may want to come back to GW2 for some reason. And if I do, I’ll have a bunch of level 80s to mess around with. But if not? Well… I only have one or two more alts I really care about leveling. Chances are, I’ll just stop logging in when that’s done.

  4. tsuhelm November 5, 2015 / 10:40 am

    Ultimately if the freebie is useless the thrill of receiving it fades, as does the incentivation to log into a game for it. When TURBINE removed mythril from the LOTRO hobbit presents I decided to stop wasting 10 mins of my life logging-in for diminishing returns… with the server mergers dragging on I have realised that having a little extra pocket money from the freebies would have helped until my richer withywindles join my poor Opopa on Laurelin… (I still miss the LOTRO lottery, a big miss there TURBINE for not sorting that out! Or have they just replaced it with the Bullroarer test log in lottery, get on if you can for TP lottery?)

    Now I suppose when the login becomes more exciting that the MMO it will be time to change tack with regards to marketing: ‘Log in to get your daily freebie and receive free access to MMO!’

  5. Sylow November 5, 2015 / 11:38 am

    Interesting. Before you mentioned GW2, i was like “yes, i was aware of the STO thingie but it just didn’t bother me”. But i have to admit that i indeed log into GW2 each day to advance the daily reward. On the other hand, i also play it several times a week, and am keeping in touch with the game a lot. (Hey, i actually even have the 64bit client already installed. ) So it’s not like i am going far out of my way to get the dailies there.

    On the other hand, i actually observe the adverse effect on me quite regularily. When offered free stuff, my first consideration is where the catch is and i tend to avoid it. I guess this again qualifies me as sarcastic and old?

  6. Syp November 5, 2015 / 12:16 pm


  7. Shintar November 5, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    The rewards you get for invoking every day in Neverwinter have certainly managed to tide me over some lean times in that game, making sure that I don’t completely lose touch with it.

    And yes, I did expect free stuff. I thought it was unusual to see that kind of thing on this blog, but I did fall for it. 😛

  8. Tyler F.M. Edwards November 5, 2015 / 3:01 pm

    I wanted to take advantage of some of the ST:O giveaways, despite not playing in months (and only briefly before then), but the server cacked out on me every time I tried to log in.

    Oh, Cryptic. I want to like your games, but you make it so very hard.

  9. Jaedia November 5, 2015 / 5:11 pm

    Heck, I was subscribed to SWTOR and Wildstar for months because of the offer of “free” stuff for doing so. Thankfully I’m getting my money’s worth in SWTOR but I’ve still not managed to get into the right headspace for Wildstar. And the moment WoW tells me “Hey, you get a free pet/mount for logging in, but ONLY FOR THESE 2 WEEKS THEN YOU CAN’T EVER AGAIN” I’m in Azeroth like a shot.

  10. baldwinp November 6, 2015 / 9:12 am

    You owe us restitution!

    Maybe a reunion TLDL with you and Dodge?

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