Game Dev Claims Demos Hurt Game Sales

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Evil Smurf:

Tanis:
You expect me to drop 60USD on a game without anything but METACRITIC to back it up?

What...are you retarded...or high...or highly retard?

this also

All the best games were shareware, Jazz Jackrabbit, I'm looking at you.

^ First post....... Just all of that... Soooo many games have awesome trailers and garbage in the box.

Second you are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Wrong it was....... Commander Keen.

Also I called this idea as BS earlier before this post occurred.....

And did anyone go to this dummies website? His games ARE SHIT a demo of this would have killed ANY sales it had on Steam 360 or PS3. If I saw you were charging for that I would have said hell no too after I tried the demo. At best this is Facebook gaming.....

The_Great_Galendo:

Eternal_Lament:
I remember hearing something about this, that out of 9 possible scenarios (made up with 3 levels of demo quality ad 3 levels of game quality) that only 2 out of those 9 possibilities will actually lead into increased sales (a terrible game with an amazing demo, and an okay game with an amazing demo) Every other combination either results in no noticeable increase or, in other cases, a decrease in sales.

And to be fair, I can't think of the last time that the demo alone made me want to buy a game. I either was going to get it anyways, in which case the demo just sates my appetite, or it actually turns me off wanting to get the game.

Well, these are both interesting arguments, but I'd bet that, at the very least, an amazing game with an amazing demo would also increase sales (by giving more people the opportunity to get hooked on it). I also suspect that an okay demo would increase sales for a terrible game. I don't know if an okay demo for an okay game would help or hurt; on the one hand, more possible exposure, but on the other hand, less hype. I'm not the sort of person that buys into hype, so for me I know which scenario is more probable, but I can't speak for the majority of my fellow citizens.

Still, upon reflection, both arguments seem to boil down to the advice "don't release a demo that's worse than your game".

You would think that any time you had a great demo for a great game that it's a no brainier, but not necessarily. Again, while a great demo won't drive sales away, it doesn't usually translate to more sales. This is because these games often have other things going for them, such as a great marketing campaign or are part of an established franchise. Because of that, while a great demo doesn't hurt, it doesn't do much either. The people who play the demo are just as likely to buy the game as the people who didn't play it. Plus, since there's the chance that the demo could be only okay or bad, it's often better for a game that's already poised to earn money to just spend the time and resources into polishing the game rather than releasing something that could hurt sales. Also, an okay demo for a terrible game doesn't actually help too often, since even if the demo is serviceable the player may opt to wait for reviews to come out, and when they do it usually leaves the player disinterested or feel that they got the most they could get with the demo. The same problem applies to the okay/okay situation, in which a player is either going to get it regardless or they'll just wait for reviews.

A demo probably does reduce sales, but generally because it just means people who would've otherwise discovered it's not really their thing will purchase to satiate their curiosity.

It's still a huge dick move and definitely an anti-consumer one but I see their point.

I just don't like their point.

I've bought a fair few games from demos because I liked the demo that I would have otherwise not known about. Spartan total warrior, Chaos league to name two

Well, I think this all comes down to games relying on deceptive marketing and trying to sell people overpriced turds. Increasingly marketing games has been about information control and showing as little of the game as possible and providing a minimum of information. something oft criticized when trailers feature nothing but cinematics, or coming close to release you might have seen less than 15 minutes of what the game is actually like between all of the reveals combined.

Games making a lot of money by being a "leap of faith" investment, if a game sucks, they already have your money, and being a product with a no-returns policy it's quite a racket.

Even when a game doesn't suck, there is always the question as to whether it's going to sustain a user's interest.

I can see how Demos affect this, after all, if the game blows chips people are not going to buy it based on a demo. By the same token if a demo leaves them sated, the game is by definition not going to be lasting enough to have been worth the purchuse. A very good tool for a customer to decide what they want to buy and make an informed purchuse of an expensive item, not so good for a company wanting to move as many units as possible.

In my mind if a Demo cost you business, your game probably wasn't that good to begin with.

I suppose this IS a valid perspective when coming from people speaking within an industry that has so far managed to get by almost entirely with the customer base making leaps of faith. It's just not a very pro-customer one. It simply follows what are very much "duh" sentiments, that the less the customer knows, the better for you as the person selling a product. While Shareware was cool at one time, there is no reason why an industry would WANT to give up the unenviable position of being able to sell customers what amounts to a "mystery box" with only a vague description of what it actually contains, without any expectation of having to reimburse a disappointed customer.

That said, releasing a Demo is usually a good thing, as it shows that the creators have faith in their product as it's definatly not expected nowadays. I've noticed a trend that the less you actually see of the game itself, the more likely it's going to bomb. Ditto for when you see gameplay footage and it's done by someone on the dev team, highlighting only what they want you to see, compared to say footage from slightly more public sources (like inviting Totalbiscuit to play or something).

If the only people you can convince to buy your game are the ones who haven't experienced how it plays firsthand, your game may not be very good.

bandit0802:
If I decided not to buy the game after playing the demo, it's because the demo didn't impress me. A good demo usually entices me to buy the full version.

Yea, Just Cause 2 was barely on my radar before I tried the demo but that demo made me want to pre-order it and it's still one of my favorite games of this gen.

Maybe the secret is to make a game that people will want to play for more than 10 mins.
No?
Just make sure they don't have a demo to try so they wont know if they want to play it for more than 10 mins?
How many times do they think they can get one over on the consumer with that one?

He is 100% right.

Demo's ruin game sales. For terrible games.

It's kind of like saying the following:

I am a jar salesman, I sell jars full of gold, but when I open them I lose sales because people see the jars are filled with shit.

Now a bad demo can also ruin the sales of good games, the only real win-win situation is an excellent demo for a terrible game that everyone knew would be terrible. That way you can steal in some more sales from poor sods that got convinced by the demo.

So yes demo's are bad for the industry. But they are a glorious chariot sent from the heavens of mount Olympus for consumers.

saintdane05:
Ah, someone has been watching Extra Creditz, haven't they?

http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/demo-daze

That video made me laugh so damned hard when I first saw it.

The pretentious undertones throughout notwithstanding (a mainstay of EC vids), the moment he talked of the negative nature of "demos" and the positive nature of things like offering the first "chapter" of a game for free, I literally started laughing aloud.

That's what a demo is! It's giving a taste of what the game has to offer. In fact, many devs in the past have done just that; id, for example, with Doom. It's as if the EC people were saying, "Demos are bad, and the best replacement for them in the future is more demos!"

What the hell does he think a demo is, if not that?

Plus, many of the conclusions they drew from the Eedar data were dubious at best)

GamingAwesome1:
A demo probably does reduce sales, but generally because it just means people who would've otherwise discovered it's not really their thing will purchase to satiate their curiosity.

It's still a huge dick move and definitely an anti-consumer one but I see their point.

I just don't like their point.

A much more brief and to the point way of saying what took me a lot more words just now. :)

That said I've been of the opinion for a while that not only would I like to see some kind of organized consumer advocacy for gamers, but that I think that for all the attention put on copyrights and IP protection that the goverment might want to focus on the other side of the coin at the same time, and work towards installing more protections for consumers of digital media and such. I think that there should be some kind of prohibation against "blind sales" especially if a product is not refundable. Either requiring accurate demos of electronic properties to be made availible, or requiring companies to "buy back" any such property within a 72 hour period or whatever. Basically if you buy a game, it's a turd, and isn't anything like what was promised, it shouldn't take an act of congress to get your money back (if it's even possible) you should be able to return it after a fair review period with one click just as as easily as you bought it. This is a touchy subject I understand, especially when it comes to "the consumption of media" but the bottom line is that with something as expensive as a $60 game, for that amount of money if the game isn't providing at least 72 hours worth of entertainment (worst case scenario) returning it is not unfair since that is a pretty decent investment of money..... not entirely practical, but in principle I think we should be going in that kind of direction. It would definatly get game companies to step up their game and produce more content instead of these 4 hour "hallway walker" games hyped before release as something more.

I see his point...

But I also see no real credibility on his part. He has done absolutely NOTHING in terms of true game development, and from what I've read no actual experience in the field besides teaching classes. Oh, he did do stuff for Disney theme parks though!
And looking at his site... well, those games are painfully cliche and unoriginal in terms of name, not to mention more than basic in anything other than the animated stuff you have to sit through in order to reach it.

Fact of the matter is that Demos serve to PROTECT consumers. Of course sales for those games are lower, because the people who would of originally bought and promptly traded/turned them back in never bought them in the first place. He'd rather have those people ripped off $60 than give them an offer.
Something I haven't seen discussed though, is the effect of all those used games being traded back in because of not having a demo. It would certainly make the used offering much more desirable, not to mention more plentiful and guaranteed than buying new.

But hey, let the guy breathe in his own flatulence if he wants I say.

There's another factor he's not considering: if someone just wants to see what the game is like, wouldn't they be more likely to rent it, pirate it or borrow a friend's copy than shell out $60 on curiosity alone?

He's wrong, the data only looks at sales of four very broad groups of games. He didn't mention scores/reviews, advertisement, amount of money used to make the game. As far as I can tell the data is on average, so great games are also bogged down with the less desirable side of the industry. I for one have been incredibly glad about Indie games having timed demos on XBLA, it allows incredibly easy access and has helped me find a couple good gems, in the pile of filth, without wasting money (even if Microsoft treats that category like a plague).

The_Great_Galendo:
I'm pretty certain that adding a demo only hurts your game if your game sucks.

More importantly: if your DEMO sucks.

You CAN make a great demo for a crappy game, and vice versa. If you release a demo, do so in a smart manner.

That's the problem with these kinds of generalizations: reality is far more complex than "Demos hurt sales", and anyone who believes in these statements as if they were law is BOUND to fail in what is ostensibly a creative-driven industry.

Kopikatsu:

Games that focus on narrative don't lend themselves very well to demos because while a demo might peak your interest in the story, they'd likely be giving you information that is wholly out of context and therefore is non-sensible, or a spoiler- in which case, that would also hurt the game because it's ruining it's own focus.

Actually, a while ago I played Primordia's demo. It let me play through a few of the puzzles, and then ended on a cliff hanger. Quite an effective one, too. I ended up buying the game. So, as long, as narrative focused titles give you the beginning, I think that it'll be alright.

Given the disappointments of this past year or so, it's just become my policy to not buy a game that doesn't have a demo. If I can't find out anything about the game beforehand, i'll just wait until it's cheap and buy it used, so that if it does (like so many games have recently) suck, I haven't lost nearly as much. Gaming is becoming, to me, a gamble that pays off so rarely that it isn't worth the risk.

I WILL be purchasing Metal Gear Rising, as it has a demo that leads me to believe the game will be tons of fun.
I was going to purchase the new DmC, despite my well-publicized hate for the new direction, based purely on the strength of the demo. Thankfully, before I could afford it, I watched a friend play through it, and found I didn't care for the neo-industrial mood, instead wishing for the old series goth sense. That lost sale isn't defensible, but the demo still made me want to play it, despite every trailer and ad making me want to throw it in the garbage.

I actually think the other way. I refuse to trust a demo anyways. Until I can be sure that the game is awesome, I won't buy it.

The best demo I can recall was for an RPG called Blue Dragon. Here, we'll give you a demo to play as far into the game as you want, do what you want... for an hour. After that, you definitely want to buy the thing to experience the rest of it.

You know, it's true about Mass Effect 3. If they didn't release the demo, a group of fans wouldn't have been turned off by the lack of dialogue options and another group of fans wouldn't have data mined it and found out the story was shit and canceled their preorders.

But that means the shit storm following the fan base's completion of the game would have doubled if there wasn't a demo.

Interesting.

If your game is shit, and I know it's shit, I won't buy it. No harm done.

If your game is shit, and I waste money on it because I don't know it's shit then it'll kill all of my interest in your franchise and maybe even in your company. For example, Final Fantasy 13.

EDIT: And I'd like to add that the more disappointed I am in your game, the more likely I am to trade it in, therefore fueling the used game market.

Also, it stands to reason that more demos = less piracy.

Tanis:
You expect me to drop 60USD on a game without anything but METACRITIC to back it up?

What...are you retarded...or high...or highly retard?

Well, there are reviews. How about 'reading' them. Or go and find some gameplay footage, independent reviewers that might have similiar tastes to your or if all fails, Total Biscuit.

OT: At first I thought this was stupid. Then I watched the video and his arguments. And they make sense. He has a point and he is technically absolutely correct. That is the sad truth about gamers that he is absolutely correct in his statement.

I think the extra creditz ppl covered this pretty well already, so just a bit on my own experiences. When I saw the really old Simpsons Arcade game on the PSN network a while back, a serious wave of nostalgia kicked in and my brain screamed "BUY IT!!!BUY IT NOWWWWWWW!!!!", but then I saw there was a free demo so I downloaded it. Long story short I ended up saving money that day, when if the demo wasn't there I would've been $10 lighter and felt like I wasted my money.

On the other hand there's another PSN game(warriors orochi 3) I've been tempted to get, but it's $50 with no demo. Normally I would've bought that on the spot, but I didn't like the company's previous game(DW7, no offense fans) so I'm afraid this one will turn out the same way or similar. However the reviews of the game has been good, so chances are a decent demo would've pushed the scales to the games' favor and I would've owned the game and possibly it's DLCs months ago.

So like many things in life, it depends.

Vigormortis:

saintdane05:
Ah, someone has been watching Extra Creditz, haven't they?

http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/demo-daze

That video made me laugh so damned hard when I first saw it.

The pretentious undertones throughout notwithstanding (a mainstay of EC vids), the moment he talked of the negative nature of "demos" and the positive nature of things like offering the first "chapter" of a game for free, I literally started laughing aloud.

That's what a demo is! It's giving a taste of what the game has to offer. In fact, many devs in the past have done just that; id, for example, with Doom. It's as if the EC people were saying, "Demos are bad, and the best replacement for them in the future is more demos!"

What the hell does he think a demo is, if not that?

Plus, many of the conclusions they drew from the Eedar data were dubious at best)

Agreed 100%. I loved the EC of seasons 1-3. However after that they became unbearably pretentious and that video is nothing short of propaganda.

Truth is demo's hurt their sales because the majority of games that are released are mediocre at best and if they can hide the mediocrity until release day it is a much more profitable product.

Movies have this as well but it is normally more of a red flag if they don't have a screening preview than gaming is with demos.

Overall the source of the video's statistics had very little value or variables in the equation which leads me to believe it was manipulated to suit the speaker's agenda.

Crackdown demo was great, it offered half of the first city and 30 minutes of play after you reached a certain point (it could all be replayed from the start, it wasnt a trial) leaving you wanting to upgrade your character to the max and exploring the world while letting you understand what the game is trying to be and letting you have fun with it.

Another good one was the Saints Row demo, yeah, you can play the game with quite some freedom but all you do isnt as big as it can be in the full game (no SWAT, no RPGs, no assault rifles) and you dont get to be able to do the missions and activities.

EDIT: Basicly a good demo should be like this:

"Look at all this cool shit that we are letting you do for free, but if you buy the full game you get to do all that shit and even MORE shit that you cant do in the demo".

Did anyone else read the article title as "Game Dev Claims Demons Hurt Game Sales"?
Maybe that's just what sprung to mind because the picture on the front page was Doomguy's face.

Hm....I wonder where Steam's Free Weekends factor into this? More often than not my friends buy a game after playing it on a Free Weekend.
I guess the difference is that the Free Weekend games are usually multiplayer and not new releases.

Personally I wish more games had demos. I'd be inclined to look into buying games I might not have considered if I could try them out first.

This is wrong on so many levels, I can't even...

So you spend half a year plus hyping your game up as the next best thing to sex to get people interest and, on average, it works quite well. People are now itching to play your game so now you think, "I should put out a demo so the people on the fence might be swayed" which is where the problem starts.

First you got the people who were excited about the game so they are guaranteed to get the demo to sate them as they wait for release, in this group there will be people whose hype fueled expectations could not possibly be met. These people, as is the custom of this age, when you have an issue with something you voice it on your chosen portion of the web. These people's issues, regardless of what they are, form a counterpoint to the hype you had going and will likely sour more people's expectations of the game. All without anyone spending a dime.

Not only do you have that to worry about but there's also the issue of having the product demo laid bare with all potential problems competing with the current hype machine hot shot, refilling the heads of people with more unrealistic expectations of it's game for it's release. So players are comparing a probably less than flawless demo with all-your-dreams-will-come-true game of future release(demos usually don't fare well when against theoretical greatness).

If asked if demos bite into sales, the answer should be, "No shit Sherlock".

I should add that while there is definitely the potential for demo players to be convinced to buy the game based on it, in general I think it's easier to convince someone to not buy something than it is to convince them to buy something. So in the end, the bad would outweigh the good.

No shit? Didn't rentals use to do the same thing? I didn't hear the bitching back in the day. If I don't have a demo, I watch youtube videos of the gameplay, if I don't like what I see, I don't buy it. Simple

The_Great_Galendo:
I'm pretty certain that adding a demo only hurts your game if your game sucks.

My thoughts exactly. I read that quote as "once people realize how crappy your game is, they won't buy it! Better to keep them in the dark."

Although I do wonder just how well the old Shareware model worked, at least the version that involved massive demos containing a quarter to a third of the entire game (think Doom, Duke Nukem, Commander Keen...). I know as a kid, I never really wanted to buy the full versions of any of those, because the demos were huge and I never could beat them. Then again, I didn't know you could install them and get the save feature to work, instead of running them directly from the CD and starting over from the first level every time you wanted to play. That's one thing I don't miss about the shareware days -- paying for demo discs. I miss demo discs, but not paying $10 for a CD with nothing but demos on it.

Edit: We did have some downloaded for the internet, but my main source of shareware demos was those CDs until right around the end of the shareware era. One of the first ones I remember actually downloading was the Jedi Knight demo, and that was less shareware and more a modern demo.

In the words of Archer, "duh and/or hello?"

If the developer isn't able to make a demo that intrigues me and excites my curiosity to see the rest of the game, then they probably aren't able to make a game I'll care about. Problem with demos is that most studios throw them out there as an afterthought if they make one at all. They need to give the demo the same kind of attention the main game gets, or nobody is going to be impressed.

slash2x:

Evil Smurf:

Tanis:
You expect me to drop 60USD on a game without anything but METACRITIC to back it up?

What...are you retarded...or high...or highly retard?

this also

All the best games were shareware, Jazz Jackrabbit, I'm looking at you.

^ First post....... Just all of that... Soooo many games have awesome trailers and garbage in the box.

Second you are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Wrong it was....... Commander Keen.

Also I called this idea as BS earlier before this post occurred.....

And did anyone go to this dummies website? His games ARE SHIT a demo of this would have killed ANY sales it had on Steam 360 or PS3. If I saw you were charging for that I would have said hell no too after I tried the demo. At best this is Facebook gaming.....

DOS games generally were good because they had to real us in with fun gameplay and an interesting story rather then this wave of my graphics are better then yours.

TheKasp:

Tanis:
You expect me to drop 60USD on a game without anything but METACRITIC to back it up?

What...are you retarded...or high...or highly retard?

Well, there are reviews. How about 'reading' them. Or go and find some gameplay footage, independent reviewers that might have similiar tastes to your or if all fails, Total Biscuit.

OT: At first I thought this was stupid. Then I watched the video and his arguments. And they make sense. He has a point and he is technically absolutely correct. That is the sad truth about gamers that he is absolutely correct in his statement.

The problem is no amount of reviews, no matter how closely they match your tastes, will be able to give you a definitive answer. That's because no reviewer is 100% to your tastes, and Total Biscuit only really has done PC titles, not console games as far as I'm aware of.

What you should of said, is that there is always the rental system for the most part with consoles. With PCs, you're practically boned unless you go the dubious route of pirating. And handhelds are a mixed bag of rent-supported and rent-unsupported.

Snotnarok:
This is a load of bias horse crap, you can't just put out a 60 dollar game and expect people to buy it on blind freaking faith, especially when putting it out on PC where some devs don't give a rats ass and just drop an un-optimized pile of garbage out that you CAN'T RETURN.

Here's a thought, make a good game and don't worry about that demo scaring away potential customers. Or don't be scumbags and lie in your demo how the game will play. I was pretty set on buying Brutal Legend figuring it as a beat-em-up only to find out it was a RTS sort of game in disguise. Well that sorta made me not want to buy the game just out of anger of basically being LIED to.

Drop demos and you'll probably see rentals skyrocket and then these 4-5 hour games that cost $60 bucks be beat in one shot and returned to redbox or gamefly or whatever, or you know everyone will just pirate the game they don't feel like chancing.

Exactly. the article doesn't prove shit. Sure it may hurt sales, in the same way a lousy trailer may hurt sales of a movie. But it doesn't matter. You do it. Everyone used to do it and you're just lowering the standards of the whole industry if you don't. All these models just focus on individual games, but in my experience gaining customer trust proves to have far better long term effects on sales than trying to 'trick' the customers with every new game.

Long story short- Cut the crap and release demos. If you do them properly for a game that's done properly, then it can only be a good thing.

Denamic:
If a demo is enough to sate your curiosity enough that you don't want to play it more, it's not the demo that's the problem.

DataSnake:
If the only people you can convince to buy your game are the ones who haven't experienced how it plays firsthand, your game may not be very good.

Pretty much, yeah.

Bad Demo to a good game = hurts sales
Any kind of demo for a bad game = hurts sales
Good demo to a good game = helps sales

I guess the idea is that they want to get you to part with your money BEFORE you know if the game sucks. That's what pre-orders are for too.

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