Game Dev Claims Demos Hurt Game Sales

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It just comes across as "Giving the people a sample of what our games are like? What are you, crazy?! Don't you know that will make it much harder to trick them into buying our substandard products?!!"

That depends on the game and the ability of the demo to show what the game is about. More often than not, a demo convinced me to buy the game. I know I couldn't wait to buy Just Cause 2 after I played the demo. Same thing with Mafia 2. Also, didn't that leaked demo of Deus Ex: HR boost sales? I think I read about that. These days I find myself refusing to buy the game if I don't know what I'm buying. And since I don't trust the reviewers, and everyone seem to be making mediocre shit and demanding more and more money for that shit, I'd say you're gonna have to start making a lot more demos to attract me as a potential buyer.

I don't know where I'd fall on the statistical playing field of "average consumer," but I'll still say this: I've been sold by game demos far more often than I've been turned away by them. I could probably count games I decided not to buy because of their demo on one hand. More often I decide not to buy games because they don't have a demo and I'm borderline about the game's description (trailers mean nothing to me unless they're featuring gameplay heavily enough to really get a feel for what PLAYING the game is like as opposed to watching pretty cutscenes).

Heck, I often just want a demo of a PC game to check how well it runs on my rig before I risk buying something I can't actually play with higher than 5 FPS.

But again, I dunno if my relationship with demos is anything like the norm, so meh.

I know that I have played game demos and decided to not pick up a game.

It just seems like good consumer policy to put out a demo though. I shouldn't have to drop $60 on a game without playing it.

Kopikatsu:
I find that very interesting. I'm sure many of the comments here will be 'Well, then those games sucked anyway', but I think Schell has made an important point, especially with the EEDAR numbers on his side.

Games that focus on gameplay could very well be hurt by demos because...gameplay is gameplay. You play it, you've already experienced what it has to offer, and then that's it.

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.

It makes Purfect sense, but it doesnt really seem to matter. If a demo is able to make a person decide to not buy a game, than the game wasnt that much of a game anyways. Hell, thats the point of a demo, IMO. The demo is suppose to show you what the game has to offer, and to intice you to actually try the game. If you release a demo and people decide they dont want to play the game, its not becuase you released a demo, its because you made a baD demo.

Hell, you want to make money on you game? Make it worth the money. I mostly rent games because save for a few, most dont offer enough for me to spend a full $60 on.

Or maybe by playing the demo gamers find out that your game is shit and then don't want to bother with the full version. Ever think of that? Of course not 'cause how could it ever be your fault. _

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".

the question is with "awesome game awesome demo" is that is it worth it to do the extra work for a demo compared to how many less sales a game will get if that game is good enough to become popular on its own? the only game i can come up with that worked like that is minecraft, and i'm still not really sure why it continues to sell even though you would think that by now it would have reached some sort of saturation point, even before the game became "officially a complete game".

Sure, the numbers are on his side, but what were the numbers used?

(Maybe it's in the video but I don't have the time to check.)

All I know is that one of the best games this generation, Just Cause 2, was bought by me entirely because of its excellent demo.

I don't see why "trying the gameplay" would stop people from buying unless the game is awful. If it's gameplay-driven, the gameplay should justify the purchase. If it's story-driven, the hook you leave should justify the purchase.

In my personal experience, I actually find that I'm more likely to purchase a game if it has a good demo. Two examples immediately spring to mind:
I saw Sleeping Dogs discounted on Steam, and remembered that a friend of mine had recommended it. So I played the demo, which got me to buy the game. If I hadn't been able to play the demo, I probably wouldn't have bought it.
When I first read about Bayonetta, I wasn't too interested. Yeah, I'm a big fan of the genre, but the whole "over-the-top sex appeal" rather turned me off of the game. Until I played a demo of the game at a convention, which I had so much fun with that I immediately preordered the game as soon as I got home.

I have never been convinced by a demo to buy a game, but I have been convinced by a demo to not buy a game. If it fails to impress me in what is essentially a highlight, then it really can only go downhill from that point on. But there really isn't a way to gauge if a game that has a great demo can hold up across a whole playthrough, so I turn to other more reliable sources. Just my two cents.

Also Extra Credits did an episode on this a while back: http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/demo-daze

Game demos are a way to show people your product and what it's like. It allows them to play the game and see if they like it before buying it.

If there's no demo, a lot of people would buy the game because they want to play it and their only experience with the game has been through the heavily buttered up trailers.

However if the game has a demo, less people would buy the game because they've had their go at it. Some people might like the game, however some people might also think "this isn't for me" after playing the demo.

If the demo wasn't there. Those "this isn't for me" people probably would have paid money for the game.

Assassin Xaero:
I've bought a few indie games just because of the demos. Dungeon Defenders is the only one I can think of where the demo made me not want to buy it. Well, and Heavy Rain, but Heavy Rain already looked like crap and I just played the demo to make sure it was crap.

Yeah, I remember I used to buy Playstation Magazine for the PSUnderground discs. And I bought some games because of the demos. Once even a rare Japanese import. I miss Jampaks.

OT: It's prolly because the game sucks, or wasn't what the player was expecting. I know I've had both experiences, both good and bad. For instance, I could finally decide whether I should buy Ni No Kuni if I had a demo for it :/

I really miss PS Underground.

Well, I do have to grant him his point- I would never have preordered Brink if there had been a demo for it.

Though I'll never, ever buy another Splash Damage title again, because Brink was dog shit on ice. So he's right, they got that sale from me thanks to not having a demo- they just won't ever get another.

Shjade:
I don't know where I'd fall on the statistical playing field of "average consumer," but I'll still say this: I've been sold by game demos far more often than I've been turned away by them. I could probably count games I decided not to buy because of their demo on one hand. More often I decide not to buy games because they don't have a demo and I'm borderline about the game's description (trailers mean nothing to me unless they're featuring gameplay heavily enough to really get a feel for what PLAYING the game is like as opposed to watching pretty cutscenes).

Heck, I often just want a demo of a PC game to check how well it runs on my rig before I risk buying something I can't actually play with higher than 5 FPS.

But again, I dunno if my relationship with demos is anything like the norm, so meh.

Pretty much the same here, though my taste in gaming tends to be a little more obscure as I usually like turn based strategies or RPG's with a more old school flavour. If it falls under one of these category I'm perfectly fine playing a 7/10 game, but they never come with the same amount of hype or press a more mainstream game does so it's good to have a demo to try out. One concept that's completely foreign to me here is that the demo could give me enough of a fill that I wouldn't care to buy the main game.

But at the same time while I may buy a game after playing the demo I don't necessarily always use a demo before buying the game. While I appreciate when a developer gives me one I can't honestly say from my perspective if it's really that beneficial to them or not. In some cases yes, but others not really.

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

Two points

1) They've got empirical data. You can spout theory all you like, but the real world data says otherwise.

2) Whether a game or demo is good or not is highly subjective. No matter how good a demo is, some people will decide the game is not for them.

Bad Jim:

1) They've got empirical data. You can spout theory all you like, but the real world data says otherwise.

2) Whether a game or demo is good or not is highly subjective. No matter how good a demo is, some people will decide the game is not for them.

Well, not that I care, let people waste their money on substandard products if they want to, but the moment I get blamed for not buying a game because the demo relayed it was not a good purchase is the moment I say "Hey you devs, why the fuck are you feeling so entitled to my money? SCREW YOU!"

Empirical data only suggests that people are idiots who will buy anything without thinking.

Bad Jim:

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

Two points

1) They've got empirical data. You can spout theory all you like, but the real world data says otherwise.

2) Whether a game or demo is good or not is highly subjective. No matter how good a demo is, some people will decide the game is not for them.

Who's to say their data isn't cherry picked? Like AAA games that don't need demos and sell out of pre-orders compared to lesser known games that do need to demos to raise awareness.

As for me, it was the demo that convinced me to buy Fire Emblem Awakening. I had a FE game on the DS but didn't like it. If there hadn't been a demo for this one, I wouldn't have even considered it.

I use demo's so I can find out what the game play will be roughly like. If it's terrible, then you don't deserve to make money. However, I believe you should research before you buy. Even if I didn't like the demo, I still wait for more info, and I'm sure many others do as well, and then spread the popularity.

Does he really have the numbers? Starcraft had a 4 level demo and I fell in love with it. We all know that one sold a lot. What's the difference with new demo's?

Crono1973:
Who's to say their data isn't cherry picked?

This is data that AAA companies are basing business decisions on. So they probably hired a few statisticians to double check it and make sure it wasn't BS before they started acting on it.

Crono1973:
Like AAA games that don't need demos and sell out of pre-orders compared to lesser known games that do need to demos to raise awareness.

Well that's what the guy said. A demo is better than nothing, but it hurts sales if you have a big marketing campaign. But he is of course discussing AAA games, which need the marketing campaign.

...maybe if the demo was actually fun, people would buy the game.

there are plenty of demos that convinced me to buy the games. a good example would be the demo for Red Faction: Guerrilla. they chose the perfect part to put in the demo, and i think it is safe to say that a lot of people bought the game because of how fun the demo was. i know i did.

other demos that convinced me to buy a game: Bulletstorm, Rayman Origins, FEAR 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Just Cause 2, Split/Second, Dante's Inferno, and some others.

demos are a big factor in convincing people to buy games. its up to the developers to not release a shitty demo that will turn them off of the game.

So basically he's saying he needs to trick 50% of the intended audience into buying the game, because when they play it they'll realise it's not worth buying...yep, that's a great way of instilling customer loyalty :|

Happiness Assassin:
I have never been convinced by a demo to buy a game, but I have been convinced by a demo to not buy a game. If it fails to impress me in what is essentially a highlight, then it really can only go downhill from that point on. But there really isn't a way to gauge if a game that has a great demo can hold up across a whole playthrough, so I turn to other more reliable sources. Just my two cents.

Also Extra Credits did an episode on this a while back: http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/demo-daze

Pretty much this. Watch the episode.

Demos literally hurt sales. In order for a demo to be profitable, it must be a good demo, and the game must be even better than the demo. Any other combination (bad demo, good game, good demo, bad game, good demo, mediocre game, etc.) will hurt sales.

Just Cause 2. That is the only time that a demo has convinced me to buy a game. And even then, it only convinced me to shell out 2 bucks for it. For me, video game reviews were convincing, but nowadays, the sheer number of Let's Plays and whatnot are my main deciding factor for whether or not to buy a game.

Furthermore, demos are expensive to develop. They have to create a segment of the game containing the full working engine, yet only contains a level or two, and they have to figure out a means of distribution. Coupled with data regarding demos, it just isn't worth it.

Nazulu:
I use demo's so I can find out what the game play will be roughly like. If it's terrible, then you don't deserve to make money. However, I believe you should research before you buy. Even if I didn't like the demo, I still wait for more info, and I'm sure many others do as well, and then spread the popularity.

Does he really have the numbers? Starcraft had a 4 level demo and I fell in love with it. We all know that one sold a lot. What's the difference with new demo's?

Maybe the difference with new demos is that developers now have the attitude that they are doing YOU a favor if they release a demo instead of designing the demo as a promotional tool.

Adam Jensen:
That depends on the game and the ability of the demo to show what the game is about. More often than not, a demo convinced me to buy the game. I know I couldn't wait to buy Just Cause 2 after I played the demo. Same thing with Mafia 2. Also, didn't that leaked demo of Deus Ex: HR boost sales? I think I read about that. These days I find myself refusing to buy the game if I don't know what I'm buying. And since I don't trust the reviewers, and everyone seem to be making mediocre shit and demanding more and more money for that shit, I'd say you're gonna have to start making a lot more demos to attract me as a potential buyer.

Dammit, ninja'd about Deus Ex.

That leak pretty much killed most of the criticism directed at the game compared to the press releases just before it.

I can kinda see what the idiot guy is trying to say, especially with more indie titles, but with the current state of gaming journalism what would you rather trust?

Your own experience with a demo?

Or this guy?
image

I think the issue is more if the demo shows how poor the gameplay is then that will hurt sales. If a game is bad and the demo shows it is bad then I am not going to buy it because I know that the game is bad.

In all honesty I don't think that demos are what hurt game sales but the actual quality of the game being revealed to the player is more what hurts it.

Remember back in the days of the PS1 where you would get discs filled with demos for various games which you could try out a section of the game with most of the abilities that you could use in the proper game. I bought plenty of games because of those because I found games which I probably wouldn't have thought of getting.

Crono1973:

Nazulu:
I use demo's so I can find out what the game play will be roughly like. If it's terrible, then you don't deserve to make money. However, I believe you should research before you buy. Even if I didn't like the demo, I still wait for more info, and I'm sure many others do as well, and then spread the popularity.

Does he really have the numbers? Starcraft had a 4 level demo and I fell in love with it. We all know that one sold a lot. What's the difference with new demo's?

Maybe the difference with new demos is that developers now have the attitude that they are doing YOU a favor if they release a demo instead of designing the demo as a promotional tool.

Do you think they are doing me a favour?

I thought they would be happy to show off their work. I keep watching new video's of games in the making, and all of them say they are excited to show us how it's going so far.

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.

This is completely true. More then true.A good demo should sink it's teeth into you. Make you wonder what more the game has to offer. But it seems like a lot of demos give you enough of the game that you decide you don't really want to invest more time into it. Good demos that get players hooked would be just what developers need to rake in the sales.

Bad Jim:

This is data that AAA companies are basing business decisions on. So they probably hired a few statisticians to double check it and make sure it wasn't BS before they started acting on it.

Oh, come on, how many times did you ask yourself if the tenth dentist recommends all other brands of toothpaste?

Deathfish15:
I love how everyone focuses on this one comment section of the guy's 20 minute speech. How about the part where he explains that 3D gaming is a "fad" that "rich geeks" will have, but it's not something people want on a daily basis? Or how about the part where he explains to companies to stop nickle-and-dimeing customers and just sell a full, enjoyable product at a single price? Or, another great part that he explains, is how Free-2-Play is not the way to get customers because of the skepticism by customers based on their mental perception of not receiving a full product?

P.S. However, to talk slightly about this guy's "demo opinion", I'll state that I was considering buying the PC version of Crysis 3 until I tried the Open Beta/Demo....now, I've tried it and have moved on to better things without purchasing.

Par for the course here in these forums (yeah, I know, it's on the Internet as a whole). People jump to conclusions and then come bitch and moan in the forums, without making any effort to know more about what the guy was actually saying, let alone what else he said. It's funny because if the Escapist had decided to make an article about his stance on free-to-play (as the Penny Arcade Report did), a lot of people here would be praising him to high heavens.

Kopikatsu:

Games that focus on gameplay could very well be hurt by demos because...gameplay is gameplay. You play it, you've already experienced what it has to offer, and then that's it.

That's why the CoD series sells so poorly.

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

When I go to the bookstore, I read the first chapter or so (or more, depending) before I buy, and if I don't like what I see, then I don't buy the book. My attitude with games is pretty much the same.

Yeah, this is one of the things I love about Kindle (especially since the best bookstore in my area had to close after a fire). I can sample any book's beginning for free. This probably accounts for the increase in both reading time AND purchases.

Anyway, I like how he tries to make it out to be a 1:1 issue when factors could simply include making more interesting demos.

IronMit:
He uses a chart that shows sales figures of games with trailers against games with trailers and demo's.
The Games with only trailers sell twice as much as the one's with the demo's and trailers.

I find it interesting that you make demo a possessive but trailer a plural. Not an attack or grammar Naziing, but...Weird.

Christ reading this article made me think. "these guys are the bastard children of EA"

I want to know if they actually conducted any experimental research to see if a demo decreases a game's sell rate. From the phrasing of the article it seems like they did correlation research and completely forgot the golden rule.

Nazulu:

Crono1973:

Nazulu:
I use demo's so I can find out what the game play will be roughly like. If it's terrible, then you don't deserve to make money. However, I believe you should research before you buy. Even if I didn't like the demo, I still wait for more info, and I'm sure many others do as well, and then spread the popularity.

Does he really have the numbers? Starcraft had a 4 level demo and I fell in love with it. We all know that one sold a lot. What's the difference with new demo's?

Maybe the difference with new demos is that developers now have the attitude that they are doing YOU a favor if they release a demo instead of designing the demo as a promotional tool.

Do you think they are doing me a favour?

I thought they would be happy to show off their work. I keep watching new video's of games in the making, and all of them say they are excited to show us how it's going so far.

They aren't all excited about releasing demos though, are they? No see, they want you to buy their game based only on their own marketing and paid off reviewers. Hell, when it comes to pre-orders they want you to buy even before the marketing kicks in.

Crono1973:

Nazulu:

Crono1973:

Maybe the difference with new demos is that developers now have the attitude that they are doing YOU a favor if they release a demo instead of designing the demo as a promotional tool.

Do you think they are doing me a favour?

I thought they would be happy to show off their work. I keep watching new video's of games in the making, and all of them say they are excited to show us how it's going so far.

They aren't all excited about releasing demos though, are they? No see, they want you to buy their game based only on their own marketing and paid off reviewers. Hell, when it comes to pre-orders they want you to buy even before the marketing kicks in.

And you're 100% sure of that? Actually, what I should be asking is, which developers in particular are you talking about? Cause I'm just talking generally. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm guessing you mean Puzzle Clubhouse and some of the big name developers. I could imagine the developers would just want the game to sell, could be whoever is pulling their strings, who knows? I have no doubt that some pay reviewers, and that they use their pre-orders with extra crap to get our money as fast as they can though.

Kross:
I know that I would have never purchased Fallout 1 with my limited budget, if not for its fantastic one town demo.

It's hard to quantify how many people buy a game because of a demo, and it's also hard to determine what scope the demo should portray to draw sales. Some demos give too much, some are tedious, and some are broken - all things that will disincline people to purchase the full game.

I've never not bought a good game because of the Demo.

All bad games that I've played Demos for I didn't buy. I can't think of any exception...

After watching that Extra Credits video someone previously linked, I can see how it has a high chance of hurting the game sales, unless you really knock it out of the park with the demo, but I think that as consumers, we should not compromise on our desire to get as much information on the game as possible before deciding to make a purchase.

I really don't care if the demo hurts your sales. If I have decided that what little I have seen of your game is not enough, and I need to try it hands on to see if I really want to spend money on it, and you aren't giving me the option to see hands-on whether or not I want this game, then I don't think I will be giving you my money.

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