Game Dev Claims Demos Hurt Game Sales

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Maybe make a good game which doesn't rely on multiplayer? If a demo is good i will buy the game, if its bad i won't and if there isn't one i will usually download the entire game to try it.

Yer Yer piracy is bad but i play on pc and there are so many bad ports i can't afford to drop 30-40 on a game i CAN'T return, where with a console game i could (provided it didn't have an online pass). And i've seen a few of you mention reading reviews, most places will give a game 7 out of 10 just for being playable i've seen some terrible games (games which are universally hated by most) which get 8-9's.

There is definitely truth in this: I remember as a young lad, I bought innumerable crappy Mega Drive games because the box looked cool or had Spiderman on it. If I'd had the chance to play those games before I bought them then the only games I'd have had in the early 90's would've been Sonic the Hedgehog and Sparkster.

Nowadays there are a lot more avenues for me to research a game before I sink money into it, though, like Let's Plays and video reviews --things that didn't exist ten years ago-- and I've bought a lot more games on the back of them than I didn't through playing demos.

Bahahaha! Ahh, people in the gaming industry can be so silly.

Demos do hurt game sales---if your game sucks. That's why you should always, you know, try *not* to suck. Not releasing a demo out of fear of losing sales really just goes to show how little faith these guys have in the games they're making.

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.

That was exactly my reaction when I read that. Demos may indeed cut the sale of games but I think the ones that are really going to be affected by it are the crappy ones. Don't bitch because people don't want to buy your shitty game, make a better game!

I have an idea. Put up demos for every game that comes out, and see if it has an impact on the usage of torrents.

That I'd find very interesting.

Andy Chalk:
it also proves the inherent fallacy in the statement by showing that piracy, even when used as a channel for unofficial demos, has a negative impact on game sales.

where is this proof? apparently i missed it. those were some very nice charts and graphs for certain, but theres no telling what exactly was included in their sample (also the chart that supposedly "proves" piracy for the purposes of demoing harms sales figures was based entirely on xbox 360 game sales which no doubt are considerably less prone to be pirated, so this is a pretty insubstantial comparison) and i doubt much consideration was given to any factors other than trailers and demos.

his point about demos and curiosity does make sense, but doesn't really bring anything new to the table. the type of demos he is referring to are for the benefit of consumers and always have been. however if your game is actually good, i dont see how having a demo for it would decrease sales.

GamingAwesome1:

I just don't like their point.

I appreciate the way you put this. The data is legit. If anyone looked past what was given in this article to the full EEDAR data that has been presented, the data covers all releases for the 360. It's a pretty good sample size that encompasses everyone's preferred choice in their attempts to negate the point.

It may not be what I want to hear, but it has a basis in fact. There has only ever been one game I bought because I played the demo (MechCommander) and there have been plenty I didn't buy because I didn't play the demo.

Shitty demos or demos of shitty games hurt sales. A good demo of a good game leads to sales...unless one just hates good things.

Honestly, I can see where they are coming from. When I was a kid with more money and a worse internet connection, I only bothered with demos of games that already interested me a lot. If there was no demo, I bought the game right ahead and wasted a lot of money because of it. With some games, it's impossible to resell, so you'll never get back your 60$.
It would be interesting to have statistics on how happy the clients are with the games that had demos, and those that didn't. After all, unhappy clients will be more wary next time, especially with games of the same developer who fooled them once.

Demos just tend to be less deceiving and best represent gameplay, while trailers are often the opposite. And good lord, can they deceive. Metal Gear Solid 2, anyone? But if good representation of a product and less manipulation made good advertisement, ads wouldn't be dishonest.
Today, it's no problem finding video reviews or Let's Plays quickly after release, and even with interesting games, I sometimes just keep watching those. I'd prefer a demo, and would definitely spend money if it was good.

From my experience, demos made me buy some of my today's favorites and completely changed my opinion on them for the better. For example, haters got me extremely biased against the Devil May Cry series. At first glance, they seemed to have good points. So I tried DMC4's demo more to confirm them.
Afterwards, I bought every game in the series. But granted. It also made me NOT buy some others.

Correlation does not necessitate causation.

I would recommend he account for review numbers when taking into consideration demo releases vs game sales.

I think he would find that bad games with demos will naturally do worse compared to bad games without demos. That will hold.

Now how about good games with demos vs good games without demos.

I cant really say I disagree with him. I have never been convinced to buy a game based on a demo and have actually not bought several games I otherwise would have because of the demo. They were actually fairly good games that I otherwise would have bought and like but I just didnt feel like buying them anymore. What is even worse is when the game is actually really good but the demo does not represent it that well and puts people off.

Sure you can give people the first chapter or hour of a game but that doesnt really work all that well. A lot of games start out slow and you dont really get access to the full game until farther in.

it feels to me that the people pulling the strings in this industry want to see how far they can eat away at the foundations before they collapse.
shame, i love my hobbie

How is a demo expensive? It's just a slice of the game, say a mission or level, that people can play to see if they like it. That's seriously all it needs to be, that's all they ever were.

And of course a bad demo will impact sales...because the game itself is bad. The solution to that is to make better games.

I find it hilarious how game companies always moan about being strapped for cash but then often throw insanely elaborate gala events for their media buddies.

I don't really see his point as being...good. I'd much rather play forty five minutes of a game for free and like it than spend a hundred bucks on a game and hate it after forty five minutes. If I'd been able to play a demo for Crysis 2, no, I wouldn't have bought it. Because I really did not like that game. I then sold it online for as much as I paid for it, so problem solved. But if a demo is enough for a person to not want to buy a game...it's not the demo's fault that they didn't want the game. It's the developers fault for not making the game better.

Hell, another good example is Dead Space 3. I still don't see Isaac as remotely interesting, and I no longer am terrified of being attatcked when I've got a massive assault rifle which fires super fast with an attatchment which fires electrically charged spikes. And with that hour or so of the game I never paid for, I won't end up shelling out a hundred and twenty bucks (Games in New Zealand are disgustingly expensive...) for a game that I won't enjoy and regret buying an hour after playing it.

People want demos to see if they want the game. Expecting them to buy the game based entirely on blind faith and a pre-rendered CGI/Live action trailer is fucking arrogant and selfish.

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.

The Extra Creditz analysis overgeneralizes and contradicts itself.

DjinnFor:

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.

The Extra Creditz analysis overgeneralizes and contradicts itself.

How do you figure? In a game's case, the only type of demo that's useful is a great demo. Bad demos only serve to harm a game, regardless of the final quality, while okay demos only serve to make people wait to buy instead of do day-one buys. The exception of course would be a great game, since chances are that a demo won't increase sales all that much if it's already getting good marketing, good word of mouth, or is already part of a franchise.

I fail to see what the issue here is, unless there's something you're seeing that I'm not.

with the latest big name game out the door that had a blanket marketing campaign and playing on peoples memories of the movie aliens i do wonder how the sales of colonial marines would of gone with a demo. really, really, really badly id say

Demo's also have a nasty habit of telling you whether a game is shitty or not. Funny how he doesn't mention anything about the fact that gamers don't want to buy genuinely badly designed games, like, I dunno, two fucking thirds of the triple A titles released in the last year? Yeah, I bet that has a pretty big god damn effect on sales too.

wombat_of_war:
with the latest big name game out the door that had a blanket marketing campaign and playing on peoples memories of the movie aliens i do wonder how the sales of colonial marines would of gone with a demo. really, really, really badly id say

See, he says: Demo's cut sales.
I say: If there's no demo, what don't they want you to see?

Then I don't buy the game because if they were confident in it's appeal they would've made a demo.

funny how game demos helped me decide to buy fora horizon, viva pinata, dragon age 2,battlefield 3, alpha protocol, trails evolution and Minecraft for the Xbox. hell. if i can find a hard copy for enslaved: odyssey to the west, I'll buy that too.

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

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

son of a ....

fine ... beat me to it, see if i care

LordLundar:
So his entire argument boils down to "We need to get the money from the sheep before they realize it's a piece of shit".

Bob was right. The DICE speakers are almost entirely pretentious assholes.

Yep. Pretty much.

Demo's just do what they do - demonstrate. If you demonstrate a shit game, you drive away customers. One would think that would be an incentive to stop making shitty games.

Well, I know that I personally am far less likely to buy a game sight unseen that has no demo, especially if I am unfamiliar with the developer or the IP.I think it's more likely that people will play a demo, and decide they don't want to buy it instead of taking the gamble.

I've been burned by too many bad games to give them blind trust any more. It wasn't so bad years ago, but it's more than more common as time goes on that games that are obviously incomplete and overly buggy get shoved out the door at full price, and it's a bunch of crap. THAT is what hurts their sales.

There is a growing and shocking disregard for quality and pride of work in the gaming industry these days. Some games are outright fraudulent lies that should be punished legally. Like the War Z from what I hear, and Legends of Pegasus from first hand experience for example. That game was released like it was a completed project when it was OBVIOUSLY in late alpha at best.

Even bigger high profile studios are dropping the ball on quality control, and what is their excuse? They are far too comfortable with kicking it out the door knowing full well the game still needs a lot of bug fixing. The customers are being relied upon, too much, to test games.

People won't let you walk over them and abuse their trust forever, that's what is going on here.

When you release a game, there are a total of 12 possibilities.

1. Your game is bad, and the demo is bad.
You have just lost sales. The demo is bad, and reflects how bad the game is. You won't buy it.

2. The game is bad, the demo is okay.
If the game doesn't offer anything that sticks out, and its just "meh", you're not going to rush out and spend $60 on it. More than likely, you'll wait for the reviews - see that its crap, and just skip it.

3. The game is bad, the demo is great.
This is nearly impossible to pull off, but, assuming you do, you get an increase in sales.

4. The game is okay, the demo is bad.
Lost sales. No one wants a shitty game.

5. The game is okay, the demo is okay.
Once again - $60. Most statistics show that this will actually not increase sales - but I'll just put that to the side for a moment. In most cases, gamers won't spend $60 on something unless they have faith that it's great. If its just okay, most of the time, they'll wait for reviews, or get their fix from the demo.

6. The game is okay, the demo is great.
Not as impossible, but really hard to do. Once you play the game, you have a feel for what its like. Its hard to simulate greatness without actually being there. Assuming you could, I would imagine this would probably generate additional revenue, assuming the consumer flat out ignores reviews and is just intent on getting this game.

7. The game is great, the demo is bad.
You just lost sales. You provided the worst the game had to offer - as well as wasted resources.

8. The game is great, the demo is okay.
You'll probably see a sales decrease. If its just okay, its not going to convince people to blow their hard earned money. To push those AAA games, you something to pop out for the experience. If you can't capture that pop, its gonna be something you wait for on a sale.

9. The demo is great, the game is great.
You successfully captured the pop. You may increase sales, but it's still risky. You have to hope that the awe inspiring demo gets more people enthralled then people that say "already, that was fun. I've had my fix." It's a risky positive.

10. The game is bad, there is no demo.
Now, this one is interesting, as you can branch it off into so many different subsections - but I wanted to keep this a semi reasonable length. You can easily create hype for bad games. If you staple a trailer onto the experience, you can direct what the viewer will think of the experience. I'll cite Dead Island. That trailer was amazing. I can guarantee you that game would not have sold enough units to warrant a sequel if they had allowed people to play it first. Demos pop the hype bubble. A bad game can be dressed up easily with CGI. If it doesn't have a huge marketing push, it will more than likely have people checking reviews. Word of mouth will eventually sink the game, no matter how awesome its made to look.

11. The game is okay, there is no demo.
These will probably sell modestly. People won't rush out to buy it on day one, but if its an interesting concept, there will be a crowd of people who will buy it to try it out. If peoples curiosity peaks, they'll cave and buy it. And these games tend not to be too offensive, so the user is generally happy. If it doesn't have a huge marketing push, people will probably check out the reviews, and decide from them.

12. The game is great, there is no demo.
This is where you can let word of mouth do its work. Do you think Skyrim would have blown people away if it hadn't been for all those memes and talk about it? Its a cultural icon. MineCraft was a game that was sold completely by word of mouth. Any of the popular series - Halo, CoD, Half Life, Pokemon. They sell by the droves because people talk about them. And, aside from MineCraft, none of them give you a demo - if you want to have your fix, you have to pay. And even with that, I know people who played the incredibly poor done demo and got their fix of that game.

It sounds really great to consumers - yeah, lets have a demo. Thats mainly because its free for us - and it lets us pop our hype bubble. On the industry side of thing, they WANT us to have a hype bubble. Popping that bubble takes time and money from them, and results in a decent chunk of customers saying "thank you, but I'm good" after trying it.

Of the 12 situations posted, 9 have to do with demos. Only 3 are positive - and one of them is nearly impossible to pull off. The other 6 are either negative or no net gain.

The other 3 are entirely positive though. You can have a good, bad, or meh game - consumers won't know. If you can make the game look interesting though, you can peak tons of peoples curiosities. And thats what can really sell games. Who would have really bought a game like Dead Island or Halo 3: ODST if they have actually gotten to play it first? Probably not as many people who actually purchased it.

For good games it can be quite the opposite, however.

Tropico 3 hooked me in with its demo. Two campaign missions, each decently long, both pretty fun, and are actually in game.

So like everyone else said, the solution is to make a good game.

One of my favourite demos, and something that enticed me into buying the game, was Starcraft's.

It gave you a taster of the gameplay and it was essentially a prequel to the main game. Making a demo a side story or something like that is one way of avoiding the 'cut a level out and chuck it in the demo'.

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.

Yep. I simply don't buy a game unless I'm able to try it first or they come Yahtzee recommended. I tried Ass Creed 3 and Far Cry 3 at a convention last year, liked 'em so I bought 'em, Yahtzee told me to buy Skyrim, Painkiller and Just Cause 2, so I did and I love 'em.

A demo needs to be short and sweet, offering a mere taste rather than a full meal. They're supposed to whet your appetite, and frankly if your demo or game is shit, that's why people aren't buying it.
A good demo for Skyrim, for example, would be the run through Helgen Keep with Ralof (better Helgen Keep run of the two imo), ending at the loading screen when you exit at the end. No story spoilers, a big taste of combat, an experience of the game.

Aren't I right in saying that most games without demos are open-ended/ open-world games, where making a demo is next to impossible/ too big/ time consuming? Also, these games happen to be the most successful games in the market i.e. GTA, Assassin's Creed, Far Cry 3, etc. That might explain it.

Personally, I rarely buy a game unless I play a demo first. If a company doesn't release a demo, I'm suspicious of its quality. If you think your game is that good, why are you afraid to let us play a piece of it?

Sure, demos hurt game sales.

And if I tell someone the box of jewels I'm selling isn't able to be opened until they buy it and I'm a hundred miles away, they're probably going to just assume it's a box of rocks, or shit. And that'll hurt my sales.

Can't let your customers know that what you're selling is a complete piece of crap, now can we?

It just occurred to me that the entire game industry is full of greedy douchebags.....

lordmardok:
Demo's also have a nasty habit of telling you whether a game is shitty or not. Funny how he doesn't mention anything about the fact that gamers don't want to buy genuinely badly designed games, like, I dunno, two fucking thirds of the triple A titles released in the last year? Yeah, I bet that has a pretty big god damn effect on sales too.

And for bonus entertainment;

The Aliens Colonial Marines demo they showed off was nothing like the real game, so they played up a really shitty game with an awesome demo, and the backlash has been amazing.

Hey, look at me, I'm a self-entitled gamer who wants free stuff from game developers. Don't take away my demos!

smithy_2045:
Hey, look at me, I'm a self-entitled gamer who wants free stuff from game developers. Don't take away my demos!

Hey, look at me, I'm a pigeon who will blindly pay for crap and smile because a biseness gotta make money.

incal11:

smithy_2045:
Hey, look at me, I'm a self-entitled gamer who wants free stuff from game developers. Don't take away my demos!

Hey, look at me, I'm a pigeon who will blindly pay for crap and smile because a biseness gotta make money.

I haven't regretted a single video game purchase I've made in the last 5 years. So I'm pretty sure I'm not blindly paying for crap.

incal11:

Hey, look at me, I'm a pigeon who will blindly pay for crap and smile because a biseness gotta make money.

smithy_2045:
Hey, look at me, I'm a self-entitled gamer who wants free stuff from game developers. Don't take away my demos!

Hey, look at me, I'm a strawman!

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