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Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two

Computer and Video Games quotes game designer Jesse Schell's industry keynote at the Gamelab conference in Barcelona where he cites research from industry analyst EEDAR saying an Xbox game accompanied by a demo typically sells half as many copies as a game that has no demo. This seems to be a cause for him, as it's not the first time he's gone off on this topic. This time around he says: "You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half? Yes, that's exactly what happened to you." Actually, it's not as simple as that, and statistical analysis rarely is. For instance, this does not account for how some recurring franchises eschew demos because they have an established audience, while smaller developers will often offer demos to attract attention to unknown games.

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23. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 20:11 bigspender
 
so the title of the story should actualyl be "franchises eschew demos because they have an established audience, while smaller developers will often offer demos to attract attention to unknown games"

derp

 
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22. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 19:57 jdreyer
 
Back in the day when gaming was younger I'd try out games, because stuff was new and you didn't know what to expect. These days I can read a desc and know pretty much what to expect. I guess that's why I don't feel the need to play demos much anymore. Just seems easier to throw a game that sounds interesting and reviews well into my wish list and buy the full version on sale.  
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21. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 19:49 Overon
 
For a shitty game, a demo will convince them not to buy it. For a good game, a demo will convince them to buy it.

So if your experience has been that when you release demos for your games you have low sales, then it would follow that your games are shit and you are better off not making demos. Instead you are better off relying on consumer ignorance and having your consumers buy a game on the basis of wishful thinking, taking a risk and hoping your game is good.
 
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20. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 19:35 Prez
 
I was going to type some long, brilliant counterpoint, but then I figured it would just be easier to say "What Creston said."  
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19. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 19:19 Beamer
 
SpectralMeat wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 18:40:
jdreyer wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 13:51:
Do people even play demos anymore?
If they wouldn't Steam wouldn't do those free game weekends, and you wouldn't see those games jump to the top of the sales charts on a free weekend.

Maybe it is different on the consoles I am not sure but on the PC especially these days in the land of the console ports I think demos do help boost sales if the game/demo is good.

Free weekends are typically well into the lifespan of a product, and are free to do. So even if they only bring in $20k you didn't spend hundreds of thousands engineering it - you just used Steam DRM.

Post-launch demos are usually somewhat meaningless because, like movies, games make the bulk of their money the first month. After that prices start falling and people tend to buy for that reason. A demo, which is expensive, doesn't help that much.
I'd also argue that jdreyer isn't alone - demos aren't really a big deal anymore. I know damn well I don't feel like downloading a few gigs, installing something, and then trying it out. Either I'm pretty sure I want it or pretty sure I don't.

Gaiku, though, would have been sweet. No downloads!
 
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18. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 18:40 SpectralMeat
 
jdreyer wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 13:51:
Do people even play demos anymore?
If they wouldn't Steam wouldn't do those free game weekends, and you wouldn't see those games jump to the top of the sales charts on a free weekend.

Maybe it is different on the consoles I am not sure but on the PC especially these days in the land of the console ports I think demos do help boost sales if the game/demo is good.
 
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17. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 16:20 FloorPie
 
jdreyer wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 13:51:
Do people even play demos anymore? I used to always play them, but haven't in 10 years. A trusted review/Blue's comments are what I use now to assess a game.

Yes, through steam or otherwise. If I had my 360 online or played games on the wii I'd probably try demos there too.

I tried the crusader kings 2 demo via steam when I saw it on sale awhile back. Nice game but not for me.
 
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16. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 16:10 Wowbagger_TIP
 
jdreyer wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 13:51:
Do people even play demos anymore? I used to always play them, but haven't in 10 years. A trusted review/Blue's comments are what I use now to assess a game.

I play them sometimes. It's so easy to grab a demo from Steam. If I see something that looks interesting, I usually add it to my wishlist, but if there's a demo I'll grab it.
 
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15. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 14:48 avianflu
 
Almost all console SONYstore and 360live store games have demos. Are those counted as demos?

game sales of every sort are down again for another consecutive year and that likely throws a wrench into anyone's "statistical analysis"

 
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14. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 13:51 jdreyer
 
Do people even play demos anymore? I used to always play them, but haven't in 10 years. A trusted review/Blue's comments are what I use now to assess a game.  
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13. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 11:31 Creston
 
This clown again?

"Hey let me just make a statement completely randomly, without actually providing statistics, or examining whether there is a causative effect or just correlation, and let me draw conclusions from that without examining any other kind of external influence whatsoever, and then declare this as absolute fucking truth.

"And then I'll watch everyone give me attention over it over and over and over and over again."

Seriously, why the fuck does anyone pay attention to this guy? Nobody was interested in Prey until it released an absolutely rock solid demo. Everyone was whining about DE:HR and how it was going to suck, until they "leaked" that alpha, people played it and realized "Holy shit, this is FUCKING AWESOME!"

The Just Cause 2 demo was talked about for weeks and people were dying for the actual game to come out, it was that awesome.

And similarly, I'm sure there have been games where the demo made people go "wow, this is fucking terrible."

Ergo, Latin, fuck Jesse Schell, and please stop paying attention to the fucking moron.

Creston
 
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12. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 11:18 SimplyMonk
 
Beamer wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 11:02:
So a dev has to choose between delaying his game months, not doing a demo, or doing a demo post launch. The first option is kind of dumb, and the last option is kind of dumb, so they go with the middle option, which seems the least dumb.

Unless you are trying to fleece people with shovelware, I'd almost say that releasing a demo post release is probably the better way to go. You get your game out on time, you have the opportunity to judge if your game is even worth doing a demo for based on initial sales and then if you have the extra revenue you can launch a demo to try and snag those individuals that require a demo to make a game purchase.

Although, you might be right in that a post launch demo is kinda useless today in a world of YouTube video reviews and game play shots. Plus the person needing a demo could always just borrow the game from a friend or play it at their house. Taking those two into consideration, maybe a demo isn't worth it unless you know your game is super solid, you have a good strategy to develop it and you want to boost your release week sales.
 
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11. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 11:08 SpectralMeat
 
ViRGE wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 11:03:
SpectralMeat wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 10:28:
Following his logic games like Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens Colonial Marine should sell twice as many copies as Bioshock 1.
Not quite. His logic would be that Bioshock 1 would have sold twice as many copies if there wasn't a demo. You can't really prove this after the fact, but it goes without saying that there are a lot of stupid people out there that will buy a game if they can't try it for free.
I think for Bioshock 1 in particular it would have been the other way around.
At the time that demo came out I have not even heard of Bioshock before. So I went from I've never even heard of this game before to preorder and can not wait to play it in a matter of hour after trying the demo.

For a game like Duke Nukem a demo would have cut down the game sales by about 99.9%
 
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10. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 11:03 ViRGE
 
SpectralMeat wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 10:28:
Following his logic games like Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens Colonial Marine should sell twice as many copies as Bioshock 1.
Not quite. His logic would be that Bioshock 1 would have sold twice as many copies if there wasn't a demo. You can't really prove this after the fact, but it goes without saying that there are a lot of stupid people out there that will buy a game if they can't try it for free.
 
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9. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 11:02 Beamer
 
Yeah, like Blue said, we've all picked this logic apart repeatedly. Big games that don't need demos obviously don't have demos.

That said, demos are prohibitively expensive and hard to do. Everyone whines about how they used to be done all the time, but it used to be as easy as sending out your engine and a portion of your assets, with it being locked down. Games can't be chopped up that easily anymore. Nor can engines. Nor can assets. Even the simple flow of games doesn't work as well, as they take longer to ramp up now.

So a dev has to choose between delaying his game months, not doing a demo, or doing a demo post launch. The first option is kind of dumb, and the last option is kind of dumb, so they go with the middle option, which seems the least dumb.
 
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8. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 11:00 Cutter
 
If there's no demo an I see a several people who bought it saying it's shit I'm not buying for certain. In the exact same case with a demo I'll at least try the demo and judge for myself.
 
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7. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 10:58 SimplyMonk
 
Yeah. Just looking at the top level of that data set, it is fairly misleading making a blanket statement like that. You really need to cut the data by review scores and compare apples to apples to really get any meaningful insight into the impact of demos on a game's life cycle.

Basically though, if you have an ass game that you don't want people to know isn't worth their money, don't make a demo and you might be able to sucker some extra people in.

For the consumer, don't buy a game unless you've played a demo, it has some good reviews from reviewers you have trusted in the past or you are willing to accept a horrible experience.

That last point I know all too well from playing Operation Darkness. The game had a lot of issues... but Werewolves and Vampires in WWII? Fuck yeah!
 
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6. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 10:44 InBlack
 
SpectralMeat wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 10:28:
Following his logic games like Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens Colonial Marine should sell twice as many copies as Bioshock 1.

I see what you did there....
 
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5. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 10:28 SpectralMeat
 
Following his logic games like Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens Colonial Marine should sell twice as many copies as Bioshock 1.  
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4. Re: Game Demos vs. Sales, Part Two Jun 28, 2013, 10:21 nin
 
SpectralMeat wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 10:00:
nin wrote on Jun 28, 2013, 09:42:
If it's a shit game, there's an excellent chance it's a shit demo.

And THAT'S why you lose sales...

Yeah but it is so easy to spin it the other way.


Oh, I know. And he knows it, too.

 
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