When a business wants to encourage customers to buy its product(s), it usually offers a hook. Whether it’s an advertisement showing just how freakin’ amazing your life will be from using the company’s product, such as a commercial implying that you’ll have scantily-clad chicks hanging all over you if you drink lots of beer for breakfast, or a story explaining how much worse your life will be without the company’s product, such as a commercial showing a woman rejecting her boyfriend for being a cad without a condom, companies try to sell you on why you need what they offer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but they’re always trying.
It’s even better when they offer samples of a product. The primo example of this is Costco, because seriously, who would buy a fifty pound bag of fish sticks if they didn’t offer a sample? No one, so they offer samples. A “trial version”, if you will. It’s very effective and gets you hooked. Even if you don’t buy the fifty pounds of fish sticks, it’s always in your mind that, if you’re hungry on a Saturday afternoon and don’t feel like going to the grocery store, you can always go to Costco and eat for free. Yes, they give you $3 worth of free mini-hot dogs and shots of pasta, but you spend $130 on a lifetime supply of toothpaste and ketchup to get it. There is no logic behind the customer’s actions; it just works. So, yeah, trial versions are common. Especially in software.
Because I’m going to Vegas, I’ve been playing computerized casino games, as I’ve already written about. Aside from Blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em, I want to play Craps. But I don’t know how to play Craps, so I’m playing on my laptop. Since my laptop is tedious on the Metro, I searched for a casino game for my pda to make it much easier to practice Craps while sitting with 200 of my closest strangers. I found All Mobile Casino.
I expect to pay for a full version of any game, but the trial version is my friend with software. Without trial versions, I’d buy few software programs, particularly games, because the risk of hating the game is too high. So trial versions enable me to verify a game’s merits before laying out my
dollars credit card number. All Mobile Casino offers a trial version, so I installed it.
Riding to work this morning, I fired up my trusty Dell Axim so I could roll some 1s and 0s. I created my little miniature Tony, gave myself $1,300 in imaginary funds, and set off for the digital Craps table. Oh, my, the excitement.
I always start my bets small until I
lose half my money and become bitter find the winning groove, so I dropped 25 fake American smackaroos on the Pass Line. I tapped the Roll button and two giant dice tumbled across the screen. The dice stopped on a five and a three, making the Point an 8. Excellent. I’m still learning, so I placed no additional bets before clicking Roll again. The dice shot across the screen and stopped on a four and a three, giving my roll a 7. That’s bad. Bye bye imaginary money, I hardly knew ye.
I can live with one loss, so I pushed another $25 to the Pass Line. You will not believe what happened next. Imagine this:
I tapped the Roll button and two giant dice tumbled across the screen. The dice stopped on a five and a three, making the Point an 8. Excellent. I’m still learning, so I placed no additional bets before clicking Roll again. The dice shot across the screen and stopped on a four and a three, giving my roll a 7. That’s bad. Bye bye imaginary money, I hardly knew ye.
Wait, what just happened? Did I roll an 8 and a 7 back-to-back in the same breakdown I did before? Very bizarre. So I bet again and tapped Roll. Same result. Are you kidding me? I ran the test one more time to verify that this is how the trial version is coded. It is.
I studied business in college, both undergraduate and graduate school. Never, not once, did I learn that it’s wise to make a potential customer a loser on the first shot. Would a drug dealer offer you the first hit of heroin for free, but with a disclaimer telling you how much your burgeoning addiction will destroy your life? No, he says “Try this, you’ll like it.” It’s the American way. Yet, Binary Fish expects me to give them my money so that I can practice being a loser? Ummm, no. If I want to know what it feels like to be a loser, I’ll watch the Phillies play. (I’m a bit disgruntled right now about this season. I haven’t given up hope, I’m just disgruntled. Ignore that comment because I’m not really that cynical.)
Can you imagine Las Vegas advertising with the slogan “Come to Vegas – We’ll keep your money and your dignity”? No, it’s never going to happen. Gambling sells illusions of riches and life betterment. That’s the product I’m buying. If you want me to buy your product, give me a trial version that allows me to roll nothing but sevens. That’s the product I want. I’d even give you the $17.95 you’re asking for it. Until then, I’ll just give that $17.95 to Las Vegas instead. They’ll at least offer me a smile when raking my money off the table.