Crytek co-founder Cevat Yerli says the era of free game demos could be coming to an end because they’ve become “prohibitively expensive” for studios to create.
Game demos have been around for an awfully long time. Companies like id Software, 3D Realms and Epic Games were built on the concept. But the times, they are a-changing’; EA recently mused about charging $10 to $15 for “premium” demos and now Cevat Yerli, the co-founder and CEO of Crysis developer Crytek, says he can see a time when free demos will be a thing of the past entirely.
“A free demo is a luxury we have in the game industry that we don’t have in other industries such as film. Because we’ve had this free luxury for so long, now there are plans to change this people are complaining about it,” he explained in an interview with Develop. “The reality is that we might not see any free game demos in the long term.”
He called EA’s strategy for paid demos “interesting” and said that much of the negative response to it was the result of poor communication with gamers.”I think the whole issue needs to be explained in a better way, because there is good thinking behind EA’s plan,” he continued. “I understand why people are thinking that all EA wants to do is maximize profits out of the audience, but really, what it’s really trying to do is get investment back but while being as fair to the gamer as much as it can. Ultimately, it will be a better deal for the gamer.”
As for the upcoming Crysis 2, Yerli claimed the studio hadn’t decided whether or not to release a demo. “Whether we do have a demo or not, do I think companies need to release so many demos? I think that we’ll see more and more games not carrying a demo in the future, because it becomes prohibitively expensive,” he said. “Also, given the time pressures in making a demo – in fact given the time pressure of making a quality demo – I think it all becomes really difficult to work with, and I think we’ll see less and less of them in the future.”
It’s an interesting position to take in light of Yerli’s well-established history as a vocal critic of rampant PC game piracy. He claimed that premium game demos are one possible way to recoup some of those losses; but given that so many downloaders are fond of the “try before you buy” excuse, isn’t it reasonable to think that the absence of free demos will only make the problem worse?