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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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17. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 12:10 Creston
 
His statement is incomplete: "Demos Kill Sales Of Shitty Games."

And that's what he's really bitching about. That he's actually forced to deliver GOOD games. That's not what he became a console developer for, yo! He wants to be able to shit in a box and have it sell a million copies because the ad campaign was good.


For examples of how a demo helped sell games, see the demos for Prey and Just Cause 2. (though sadly the demo of Prey contained about the only parts of the game that were actually good.)

Creston
 
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16. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 11:53 cento
 
Didn't the latest XCOM have a demo?

Must be why that game did so poorly...
 
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15. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 10:37 SpectralMeat
 
I think demos are very game specific like you guys mentioned it, and for new IP it is a must imo.
For instance I did not care at all about Bioshock 1 until I've played the demo and I was hooked. Same goes for many many other games that had demos and I've picked them up after. I can also thank demos for saving me some money on games I was really looking forward to and based o nthe demo it sucked big time.

Of course a demo will not give you accurate representation of the full game but you get a feel for the full game (game mechanics, how well it runs on your system, fun factor etc.) Not many games demos I've tried where the demo sucked and the game did not suck for me also.

So all in all I think demos are important, and if it looks like sales suffer because of them that means less buyers remorse. Many many times games looked so awesome in gameplay videos and they were frustrating to play, or packed full of bugs, etc.

Like others said you can't just throw a blanket statement out like demos=less sales, because that is utter bullshit.
If developers/publishers think no demos is the way to go for future then that will just means less day 1 sales for a lot of people imo.
Even CoD had a MP "beta" before it came out, Gears Of War had that too, and many big games had some sort of a trial version. Ones they are established franchises it is a different story of course.
 
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14. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 10:24 Alamar
 
Just like all other blanket statements, this one doesn't fit every game/company/etc...

Beamer made a good point; Games with high expectations don't need demos...

Which supports my point, which is that, as always, demo's are a great way to get people interested... And is nothing new... There have been complaints here/everywhere for a decade+ that new IP doesn't happen enough, and this is a big part of why...

Now, for my own stuff, and any other indie outfit, demo's are still required to get the word out, so to speak... And honestly, humble bundle and the like are just an extension of this (each developer making under a buck per sale is basically demo price - Not that a few hundred sales, even at a buck, is ever bad : ).

-Alamar
 
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13. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 10:01 Verno
 
It really depends on the game. You can make the best game in the universe and half of the people who try it will love it and the other half won't, people have different tastes in games. Of the crowd who loves it, did you make it appealing enough to buy? Too often demos showcase poor segments of gameplay that could be roughed up quickly for public consumption instead of putting their best foot forward.

In the case of mobile games you get a lot of casual buyers and if you give them a demo, sure they might not buy it because they just wanted something to play on the bus or train for 20 minutes.
 
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12. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:57 Wowbagger_TIP
 
MoreLuckThanSkill wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 09:32:
All in all though, Jesse Schell sounds like exactly what is wrong with the game industry and business in general. Customers are sheep to be fleeced, not loyal patrons spending their money wisely.

^ This seems to be the only message you can really take from his comments.
 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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11. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:50 Cutter
 
Demos kill games...says the guy that no one has ever heard of.
 
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10. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:49 Beamer
 
I thought I posted in this.


Anyway, this guy looks at it wrong. It isn't that demos make games sell worse (which could be true), but games guaranteed to sell well don't make demos (which is 100% true.)

Which best selling games have demos? I can barely think of any. They don't need them. They don't sell well because they don't make them, they don't make them because they know they'll sell well, often because they have a 4 or a 6 or an 18 in their name.
 
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9. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:48 siapnar
 
netnerd85 wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 09:44:
When you make the pathetic shit he does, maybe: http://www.schellgames.com/
Yea this guy is isn't relevant enough to discuss, really.
 
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8. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:46 SpectralMeat
 
InBlack wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 09:42:
SpectralMeat wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 09:37:
Developer: Demos Shitty games Kill Sales
Looks much better.
Speaking of no demos better sales, let's see how well the new Aliens game does in sales. It had no demo so it should do exceptionally well in sales right?
If it won't, well then lets blame piracy on that one.

I wish that were true, it aint though. Im guessing that the game probably sold a shitload through preorders alone. It will probably break even since Randy and Co. outsourced its production to China or god knows where for peanuts...
We'll see. I doubt other then the preorders they will sell a ton of copies. Ones people see the reviews and the word of mouth on forums and other media forms like twitter etc. I doubt their sales will be anywhere near expected, but I might be wrong.
However based on my experience with games, shitty games will not sell regardless of demos, good one will look at Skyrim.
 
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7. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:44 netnerd85
 
When you make the pathetic shit he does, maybe: http://www.schellgames.com/  
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6. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:42 InBlack
 
SpectralMeat wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 09:37:
Developer: Demos Shitty games Kill Sales
Looks much better.
Speaking of no demos better sales, let's see how well the new Aliens game does in sales. It had no demo so it should do exceptionally well in sales right?
If it won't, well then lets blame piracy on that one.

I wish that were true, it aint though. Im guessing that the game probably sold a shitload through preorders alone. It will probably break even since Randy and Co. outsourced its production to China or god knows where for peanuts...
 
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5. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:40 InBlack
 
El Pit wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 09:36:
He's right. Demos OF BAD GAMES kill sales OF THE BAD GAMES. Demos of GOOD GAMES, on the other hand...

This. 1000 times this! Well said.
 
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4. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:37 SpectralMeat
 
Developer: Demos Shitty games Kill Sales
Looks much better.
Speaking of no demos better sales, let's see how well the new Aliens game does in sales. It had no demo so it should do exceptionally well in sales right?
If it won't, well then lets blame piracy on that one.
 
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3. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:36 El Pit
 
He's right. Demos OF BAD GAMES kill sales OF THE BAD GAMES. Demos of GOOD GAMES, on the other hand...  
Consoles? I owned two: a Pong clone and an Atari 2600. And that's it.
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2. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:33 nin
 
Developer: Demos Kill Sales

Notch would strongly disagree.


 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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1. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 09:32 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
1) how can you know what your sales would have been if there was no demo? Comparing to a similar game/etc. doesn't give you accurate numbers on what your potential sales would actually have been.


2) SHITTY demos cut sales, because people try your game and choose to not buy it. Extend this to shitty games usually sell poorly, and you have the modern game industry.

Of course there is the caveat that a long demo that includes most of the game features/content will probably make SOME players simply not buy even an average to good game, because they feel they've had enough.


All in all though, Jesse Schell sounds like exactly what is wrong with the game industry and business in general. Customers are sheep to be fleeced, not loyal patrons spending their money wisely.

 
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