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Developer: Demos Kill Sales

PCGamesN links to a D.I.C.E. SUMMIT 2013 Keynote Speech by Puzzle Clubhouse creator Jesse Schell where the CEO of Schell Games makes the interesting, if counter-intuitive case that releasing a demo for a game hurts sales, and that the key to successfully marketing a game is to make players want to try it without giving them a chance to. He offers a chart of the "Hype Curve" of marketing a game, which contains data points with disturbing labels such as "Peak of Inflated Expectations" and "Trough of Disillusionment," and offers the following personal perspective on how this works, at least in the case of his game: "You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half?," he asks himself, before answering: "Yes, thatís exactly what happened to you." Thanks Joao.

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36. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 13, 2013, 08:34 WaltC
Beamer wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 16:43:

Nothing you are saying is supported in fact.
For one, you have ZERO numbers showing that a decent demo of a decent game increases sales, let alone "2X." This guy has numbers that prove the opposite.

So argue his interpretation, don't throw out gibberish.

And the idea that people are going to bootleg a game to see if they like it is also absurd. The try-before-you-buy crowd isn't terribly large. Even the people here that do it mostly admit they buy it at a later date at a later price.
Plus he's discussing the 360, not the PC, making this a much more difficult thing to do.
Lastly, the games that routinely don't get demos, like Skyrim, Mass Effect, Modern Warfare, etc., all do extremely well and sell extremely fast without them. Their sales are very much day 1 and week 1 sales. A demo, which would come out around the time of release, wouldn't speed that up. At best it slows it down. Those consumers aren't swayed by demos at all, to them the prior game in the series or by the developer is the demo.

Also, yes, people sell more games when reviews aren't published. Had those Colonial Marines reviews come out last week I guarantee there would have been more preorders canceled. There's a reason Hollywood routinely does this.

I don't think your reading comprehension is very good. I said *decent* demo...The idea that a good demo is going to hurt a game's sales is about as intelligent as thinking that a good game review is going to hurt game sales. It's just not true.

Yes, this idiot was indeed speaking about the xBox and I was speaking about the far superior gaming platform--the PC. But I don't even know why someone would discuss game demos on an xBox. I don't own an xBox for gaming, and the crowd that does is already way, way behind in the gaming appreciation department, anyway...;)

The simple truth is that it's ludicrous to say that a good demo of a game--again, emphasis on the word "good" or "decent"--will hurt your sales. That's exactly like saying a good game review will hurt your sales--it is a stupid thought. It's puzzling why you would be so ready to believe it.

Games like CoD etc, do not count because people are already very familiar with these cookie-cutter style games and know exactly what to expect by virtue of having played the earlier games in the series. Talk about Skyrim--people with xBoxen should hardly bother--as the game without mods is 100% a different and inferior game. The way to play Skyrim is not on an xBoxen.

Besides, Skyrim does indeed have a demo of sorts showing actual gameplay. Take a look at the gameplay demo and listen to Bethesda's background narration as they tell what they've done in the game and if you still think that it hurt the game's sales then I feel sorry for you...;)

Skyrim was an exceptionally well-promoted game in advance of its shipping, including demonstrations of actual gameplay, and that is one of the reasons it sold as well as it did from the start--people had a very good idea of what to expect *and they liked it.* But all of this is just common sense. Sure, if you put out a *bad demo* that makes your game appear to be crap--then yea, you can expect it will hurt sales, just like bad game reviews hurt sales. But nobody is talking about *bad* demos, good grief. The assumption is that if a company knows how to make a good game it can make a good demo. Demos are traditional--who buys a car without a demo?--books are constantly promoted by demos by way of sample chapters printed all over the place, movies are constantly demoed and advertised prior to release--nah, the smart money says to create a good demo of your product in advance of its release and you do yourself a big favor. Nobody anywhere is advising the creation of a bad demo that will *hurt* sales--that's just idiotic.

This comment was edited on Feb 13, 2013, 08:42.
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It is well known that I do not make mistakes--so if you should happen across a mistake in anything I have written, be assured that I did not write it!
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