If you had asked me one year ago if RuneScape should have a members trial, I might have said no. Not that such a program wouldn’t be beneficial, but that the rampant amount of cheaters that plagued the game at the time would use the opportunity for free membership, no matter how short, to bot more valuable members items and upend the economy even more. Now that the bots are no longer an issue, there isn’t much of a reason not to allow free players to experience membership.
Not to say that RuneScape’s free version is low quality, but the skills accessible to free players are (for the most part) a far cry from the variety offered in membership. Of the twenty five skills, free players can access sixteen. Seven of those skills are combat related (Attack, strength, defense, constitution, magic, ranged, and prayer). Of the remaining nine, three (woodcutting, fishing, mining) are basic harvesting skills, five (runecrafting, crafting, firemaking, smithing, cooking) are processing skills that revolve around taking raw materials to a place and using them on a thing to create finished stuff, with Dungeoneering bringing up the rear as a combination of all of the above in a secluded area.
Members, on the other hand, is quite a different game to its free to play brother. Weapons and equipment sets with special effects add a whole new level of strategy to combat, as do potions, poisons, curses, new magic books. Skills like summoning can dramatically alter a person’s experience from combat to simple resource gathering. Farming requires time management and mobility while slayer introduces the player to combat that requires more strategy than fight, fight, eat food, kill.
In 2010, Jagex did attempt a membership trial for a week in July, but the program was bogged down by a few unfriendly details. Players were required to submit credit card details, which was charged for $5.95 and set the player up with an automatically recurring subscription. Only if the player unsubscribed during those seven days would the deposit be refunded.
To Jagex’s defense, and as I’ve already said, an unrestricted membership trial at the time would have upended the RuneScape economy table, riddling the members worlds with even more bots than were already present. With the bots absent, there isn’t much reason for Jagex to not offer a taste of membership to free players.
Other than that I have no opinion.