A 30-day free trial gives you access to a game or service for a fixed, limited amount of time without having to pay for it until the time is elapsed. After that, the trial period ends, and you'll have to dish out the dough if you want to continue. If it's a subscription-based service, and they made you give them a credit card to start the trial, you'll often be billed automatically for another month the exact second the trial is over. note
Thirty days is common, as is 1 hour for casuals, but any length of time counts.
Not to be confused with the Freemium model, where the free version of the game has limited content, but no time restrictions; Freemium services often include a 30-day free trial of the premium version. Shareware often uses this model as well.
If advertising plays up the trial version with phrases like "Play now for free!" while playing down the actual and full cost, it may just be an Allegedly Free Game.
- Free players of RuneScape can try a 14-day free trial of membership without having to pay.
- EVE Online had varying lengths of free trial up until a 2016 update which allowed for indefinite trial accounts. Trial accounts under both systems are limited in which of the game's many ships they can fly.
- Star Wars: Galaxies offered new accounts a 14-day free trial of the game, rewarding those who subscribe at the end with a bonus item that boosts their Experience Points temporarily.
- Most of the games at Big Fish Games have a one-hour trial period. If you want to keep playing after the hour, you'll need to buy the game. (Since they're a Casual Video Game company, not an MMO, one hour is usually enough time to see if you like the game or not.)
- GameHouse, another Casual Video Game site, works the same way as Big Fish Games: The games can be played for one hour free; to play longer you need to buy it.
- PlanetSide once had a Reserves event note which included a one year long trial that stood up to its name by attracting a lot of players. The game also had a seven-day trial before and after the Reserves, but a few years after the Reserves ended, the trials ended because they were very convenient for hackers - they'd get banned, then immediately make another trial account. The sequel switched to full free-to-play with Microtransactions.
- Steam frequently has "free weekends". Typically for multiplayer based games (the game in question also tends to be discounted for the same length of time).
- Escape Velocity is distributed as shareware. You can download and play for free for 30 days (though the plots cut off about the halfway point), after which many pieces of the game (certain ships, for instance) are blocked off. And in Nova, Captain Hector will hunt you down and kill you.
- Playing Minecraft on an account that hasn't bought the game yet will limit the player to 100 minutes (5 in-game days) of gameplay on a preset world, after which their only options are to reset the world or buy the game.
- Final Fantasy XIV has a free trial for new players who wish to experience the game before buying it and starting a subscription. However, the trial imposes several limitations on free trial players, such as being unable to send friend requests or private messages. This also doubles as a barrier against people who would use the free accounts to send spam to everyone or making dummy accounts for botting. While there was originally a time limit on the free trial, they eventually removed it in lieu of a level cap of 35. Shadowbringers, however, expanded the free trial to encompass all of the game's content from A Realm Reborn to the end of Heavensward.
- Monkey Shines has a free trial that allows you the play the first world "Spooked" for a thirty days. Registering allows you the play the remaining four worlds in the game as well as custom levels.
- America Online used to mail out obscene amounts of free trial disks that gave you a certain amount of free Internet. In the 1990s and early 2000s, those things were ubiquitous. And they were so generous that it was entirely possible for users not to exhaust their free trial before the next disk rolled in — even with typical Internet usage patterns for the timenote . In the early days, AOL sent out floppy disks, which you were free to erase and use for your own data — many people never had to buy their own diskette even once because AOL was sending them through the mail for free. By the early 2000s, AOL had switched to CDs, which you couldn't really use for storage but which were very handy as coasters. Even SMOSH was joking about them:
- Netflix has many different avenues of giving new customers 30-day free trials (though they have cancelled it). Hulu and Amazon Prime also both offer them. In the case of Netflix and Hulu, if you cancel and wait long enough, they'll generally even give you a free trial to come back.
- Skype had the seven-day free trial of group video calling, back when that was a premium feature.
- Some dating sites will have a "communicate for free this weekend" promo for new members.
- WinRAR subverts this trope. The trial version says you have 40 days until you need to buy it, but even after that it still works.
- mIRC does the same thing, except for 30 days. However, if you're far, FAR beyond the 30 day period (as in, several years), the program might ultimately refuse to work until you buy it.
- For new registrants with Ooma, there is a free 60-day trial of their Premier service, which offers more features (for example, call forwarding and call blocking.) After that, however, you can either opt for the Basic service (which doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but also doesn't have a subscription fee), or pay $10 a month for the Premier, whose features usually cost 3x as much with a regular landline phone plan.
- Extremely common for free for home use computer security software, you are allowed to start a 30 day free trial that unlocks additional features, such as fully automatic updates, and removes nag screens. It's not uncommon for the free trial itself to be mandatory, to try to get you used to the premium features and to be more willing to pay for them later.
- All versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system from Windows XP onwards have a 30-day free trial period from the time of installation, after which Windows needs to be activated (by entering a product key purchased from Microsoft) in order to remain fully functional.
- Windows XP and Server 2003 would stop working completely after 30 days unless you activated them.
- Because the mechanism Microsoft used for detecting pirated copies of Windows resulted in quite a lot of false positives, Windows Vista and Server 2008 were modified so that they continue to work after the 30 days are up; however, unless Windows is activated, the desktop background is blacked out, most of the personalisation options in Control Panel are disabled, a watermark appears in the lower right-hand corner of the desktop, and the computer reboots every hour.
- Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 act much the same as Vista and Server 2008, except that fewer features are disabled, and, instead of rebooting every hour, a window periodically pops up reminding you to activate Windows.
- Windows 8, Server 2012, and newer no longer start the 30-day trial period when Windows is installed, but one can still turn the free trial using Command Prompt; if Windows isn't activated, it merely disables a few personalization options and displays a watermark in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
- Music streaming service Spotify lets you use Spotify Premium for two weeks. You can download songs so you don't need Wi-Fi to listen, there aren't any ads, and you can pick individual tracks instead of always shuffling.
- In the UK, Amazon offers a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime. This became controversial when newspapers reported that people weren't being reminded their free trial was up; Amazon just started taking money if you didn't cancel.
- Netflix has a one-month free trial when you first sign up. Hulu also offers a free trial, as do many streaming services that require (or recommend) a subscription fee.
- Stan., Australia's own streaming service, also offers a free 30 day trial.
- GoAnimate's educational site offered a 30 day free trial, and this was used heavily by members of its fandom who couldn't afford to shell out for a fully paid account. You could make unlimited free trials with it, in fact!
- Crunchyroll offers a 14-day free trial for their premium membership - unless you use certain promotional codes provided by YouTubers who are partnered with them, which bump that free trial up to 30 days. Furthermore, the site offers premium members "Guest Passes" which allow them to gift their friends with 48-hour premium trials.
- Both Sling TV and Direc TV Now, two services that allow users to watch popular cable/satellite networks (and sometimes even local broadcast channels) without a cable or satellite subscription, have a free one-week trial.
- Occasionally (though probably less often now than they used to) premium channels (such as HBO and STARZ will unscramble (or partially unscramble) themselves for a weekend, allowing people who don't pay their cable or satellite companies extra for those channels to view the content, the idea being that they'll want to add those networks to their channel lineup and pay the extra fees to do so.
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