Okay, So I was watching the Zero punctuation left4Dead review the other day, and at one point Yahtzee mentions that while waiting to respawn as a special zombie in the humans vs zombies gameplay mode, he’d like to play as one of the normal zombies in the intervening time. This got me thinking, wouldn’t it be interesting if Valve released a free demo of left4Dead in which you could only play as the cannon fodder standard zombies in the game, so without buying the game you could still get a taste for the game, and at the same time you would be making the game more entertaining for people who actually bought the game.
Generalizing this idea wouldn’t it be interesting if more games were released with a free version which unlike standard demo’s allows you to take part in multiplayer action with people who bought the game, but you get to play in a less glamorous or entertaining role. Another example, World of Warcraft (or pretty much any other MMORPG for that matter) could release a free version where people can log in and play as monsters in the gameworld, obviously there’s no collecting items or stat progression to the monsters they play, but they get to fight players and paid subscribers get to have a greater challenge than fighting just the AI in PvE mode.
This could be a lucrative idea for certain games as you are essentially using the free players to provide a better experience for paying players, adding value with little expenditure on the developers part.