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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Trial Length in a Desktop Game (+ Interesting Data)


my desktop game comes with a 4-hour trial period. (4 hours of usage, of course). The Download-to-Sale conversion is 4%.

Recently I measured at which point in the trial people purchase. The results:
* 50% buy the full version within the first 15 minutes (or immediately, without ever trying it)
* 37% buy after the end of the trial period
* 13% buy somewhere in the middle of the trial period

I now want to conduct an A/B-test and measure the effects of different trial lengths. Based on my data, which trial lengths would you include in that test?

Since so many people buy without even trying, do you think it's wise to de-emphasize the trial? E.g. by making the "Buy Now" button more visible than the "Free Trial"? Or by mentioning "Instant Delivery" instead of "Free Trial"?

If anyone has similar data for their own Desktop software (even if it's not a game), I'd be happy to see some numbers.

restless Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
Last time I surveyed my users, 25% said they had purchased without trying. I am guessing because it had been recommended by someone else.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
It can be found only by experimentation.
The only advice I can give - is to stop the timer when in game pause is pressed. There was an incident. I launch a casual game. Next I was distracted by the case. Pressed the pause. When I returned to the game - my trial period is over :(
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
I would try

- 15 mins
- 30 mins
- 1 hour
- 2 hours
- 4 hours

I suspect 4 hours is too long. A person has to be enough into the game that they are willing to pay to continue, but if they have been playing for 4 hours already, when the "end of trial" comes up,  they might be going "that was fun, but I had enough for now. I'll buy it next time I want to play".  And of course "next time" never happens because they haven't paid and the trial is over.

My bet would be for a short trial period (15-30 minutes) along with an "Extend trial" button where you collect their names and emails (if you don't have them already, of course).

2 hours after the end of the extended trial (the remainder of your original 4 hours) ends,  if they haven't bought the game, you can offer them a time limited discount.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
short trials can work. There is a fun indie game called 'dont starve' that you can try for a few minutes in chrome. I bought the game off of this.

I would be surprised if the 50% off if you buy in the first 15 minutes would work. It wouldn't work on me. I played dont starve but didn't buy it right away.

you might want to offer the discount for the whole period and if they don't buy send an email a few days later with the same discount to entice them to buy it again.

id be curious how this works for you.
Contractor Send private email
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
In general I vote for unlocked content rather than time limits. The idea is that if you leave them a playable game on their system, they might come back and keep playing and someday upgrade. On the other hand with a game that has timeout, they are just going to uninstall it. Obviously this works better for some games than others.

I wonder how many of the people buying it without a trail have played it elsewhere. I like the idea of giving the person 2 chance to buy (once half way through, once at the end).
Foobar Send private email
Wednesday, October 02, 2013

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