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1059205 Posts in 43057 Topics- by 35006 Members - Latest Member: barbaraholland

October 31, 2014, 12:25:44 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessHow to get the word out? Marketing Question
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Author Topic: How to get the word out? Marketing Question  (Read 2576 times)
Graham-
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« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2013, 08:43:55 PM »

I talk like an asshole, and I use a lot of hyperbole.
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« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2013, 05:27:51 AM »

You guys have now convinced me to make a demo. Congratulations.

Also just to add to the 'do a demo' argument - if I'm buying a game I pretty much always have a quick youtube search and often find let's plays of demos, so I guess it's a simple way of spreading your output.

I lost my dropbox public account for around 1-3 days because a couple of my 12mb games used a lot of bandwidth somehow. I'm using dropcanvas atm for hosting my games which is so far the best free one I can find.

Cheers, shall give dropcanvas a whirl.  Hand Thumbs Up Right
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« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2013, 05:52:23 AM »

@caiys - i know you said you are convinced, but one more thing you could try, just to prove it to yourself, is to do A-B testing. have your site randomly appear in two versions to visitors: one with a demo, and one without. track what % of people buy the game for each version of the site. i would guess that the site with the demo would lead to more sales than the site without the demo

What does everyone think about demos of games in alpha? If itís an early alpha and the content even in the demo is likely to change significantly, is it still as necessary to have a demo? Some games do it, but others donít. Iím planning on going the alpha funding route, but Iím not sure about releasing a demo right away, since at the beginning the demo wonít be able to be very long without having almost as much content as the actual game.

this really depends on the game. i would not sell or even allow people to publicly play my games in alpha, simply because my games tend to feature strong stories and i don't want people to be spoiled by playing only half a story or an incomplete story or a story with badly edited text. for a game like minecraft it makes sense to let people buy it in alpha because it's still somewhat of an enjoyable experience even when it's only 20% done, but for a story-based game, it makes no sense to let people play 20% of a story, and have to wait a year or more before they can see how the story ends

so basically my rule of thumb regarding that is: do not sell your game in alpha if it has a story, but if it doesn't then releasing it early is okay
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« Reply #43 on: March 17, 2013, 01:53:26 PM »

I'm honestly leaning toward the idea of not making a demo for your game. I know that sounds counter-intuitive... but after a lot of reading up about it, it actually makes sense.

I mean really, how many games have you purchased after playing the demo? I have purchased none. None games.

You either sell a person on your game before they even play it, or you don't get the sale.

All a demo does is lose you sales. People who play the demo are more than likely just going to either not like the demo or like it but play enough of the demo to not really care to buy the full thing.

A video of gameplay, a trailer... good screenshots... a good sales pitch... word of mouth... getting some people who will do play throughs of your game on youtube... That is what sells your game. Not the demo.

That's apparently what the statistics say as well.
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« Reply #44 on: March 17, 2013, 02:32:16 PM »

that chart there is actually the chart eva linked to in the ouya thread, and it doesn't actually show that no demos sell better, it shows that demos make a game sell better when there's no trailer, but that both a trailer and a demo combined sell less than just a trailer (for AAA games on the xbox), without taking into regard marketing budget, review scores, or other complicating factors.

the key thing to me is: only games without much of a marketing budget wouldn't have a trailer, and similarly, low budget games tend to not have demos. you can find exceptions, but generally, if a game doesn't have a trailer, a demo, or both, that means it's low budget. so what the chart may actually be showing is simply that games with bigger marketing budgets sell more than games without them, because that chart didn't control for marketing budget. and often, when a company is very confident of a game's sales, they will release it without a demo, since it already has a ton of pre-orders. this happens more often with games with higher budgets, which in turn have higher sales. all this stuff is basic 'correlation doesn't imply causation' stuff, i shouldn't even have to go over it (some of the comments to that article go over it in much greater detail than i do here)

here's what eva said in the thread where that chart was first brought up which gives some context to that data, since she's more knowledgeable about the xbox market than me:

Quote
bioshock was out 2007. a demo came out a week before its release. the demo contained the first 10~20 minutes of the game, and that game's intro was probably the most polished part of the game. it was one of the fastest downloaded demos on xbox, about 1million downloads in a week. it had a 90+ metascore. pc version had drm controversy. it was 3rd best selling in the month it released and sold millions overall. direct competition was light when it released. this was at least a month or two before halo3 and cod4 came out. ps3 port came years after

mirrors edge was out 2008. a demo came out 2 weeks before it released and it had a portion of the demo itself locked unless you preordered the full game at select retailers (not a stellar demo) 80 metascore. pc port came out 2 months after. sold below expectations at launch but reached at least 2million in 2 years. had marketing behind it, tv ad presence and billboards. released the same day as cod5.

alan wake was out 2010. there was no demo. sales were similar to mirrors edge. released the same day as red dead redemption. 80+ metascore. it was also one of the most pirated xbox games.

and too human, seriously? would that have really suckered in a million more buyers without a demo

and, the thing is, that xbox data is not the only data we have. there's a *lot* of data beside that that says the opposite, that demos increase sales, and that alternative data tends to be relevant to indies because the data is of indie games. this data has been collected over the last 20 years by indies who have done their own tests and reports on it. should we really disregard all that very relevant data just because of one guy giving a speech and his interpretation of data from AAA games on xbox, which may as well be another industry considering how different it is from how indies make and sell games?

on another note: the 'demos' on the xbox aren't even true demos in the sense of pc indie games -- they're typically much shorter, containing a single level, if that. indie game demos tend to be much longer and to represent a larger part of the game (often hours of gameplay). from what i remember, the (indie) data on demo length says that 60 minutes is the optimal demo time; too much shorter and the player doesn't get hooked, too much longer and they are too satisfied. because the xbox demos tend to be much shorter than 60 minutes, often more like 15-20 minutes, they're a different kind of thing entirely
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 02:41:07 PM by Paul Eres » Logged

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« Reply #45 on: March 17, 2013, 04:01:54 PM »

@caiys - i know you said you are convinced, but one more thing you could try, just to prove it to yourself, is to do A-B testing. have your site randomly appear in two versions to visitors: one with a demo, and one without. track what % of people buy the game for each version of the site. i would guess that the site with the demo would lead to more sales than the site without the demo
seems like a good idea



































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« Reply #46 on: March 18, 2013, 01:02:04 AM »

Another possibility is to build a freemium model of the game; it goes for free, but has built-in features which have to be paid in-game. This is the system that is currently rocking, many pages and games do it: deviantart, soundcloud, dropbox, temple run, angry birds... It is difficult to code though, it's like built-in 'social' (viral) features, like minecraft.
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« Reply #47 on: March 18, 2013, 09:17:56 AM »

A/B testing is a great way to increase sales in general. It's a waste of time if you don't like making money. You can do more things than just decide if your demo is good, like how well it is presented, which images sell your game the most and so on.
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« Reply #48 on: March 18, 2013, 09:05:59 PM »

A/B testing is a great way to increase sales in general. It's a waste of time if you don't like making money. You can do more things than just decide if your demo is good, like how well it is presented, which images sell your game the most and so on.

It's why I say that you need at least one dedicated 'marketing guy' if you intend to make money. Marketing is more than just talking to media, fundraising, and updating Facebook. You need to test which stuff works and which doesn't. You need someone to look into SEO, etc.


I bought Fallout 2 because I loved the demo... back in the days when reviews and forums barely existed. Heck, I bought almost every game based off the demo back then. These days, I still buy mobile games off demos ('lite' versions). Didn't know about Kairosoft before because they're not well marketed, but after playing a couple demos, I purchased at least 5 of their games so far. Demos are also a major marketing tool for Spiderweb Software... they're almost full games in themselves.

IMO, demos don't sell AAA games because the game often doesn't meet expectations. Plus, demos these days are huge.. often more effort to get a demo than to buy (or pirate) the full thing. While I've never downloaded a demo from an AAA game these days, I get wary if they're not willing to release one. What are they hiding?

But demos are more than just "a chunk of the game". Releasing the wrong chunk makes the game look bad. Wouldn't recommend releasing a 'pre-alpha' version.
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« Reply #49 on: March 18, 2013, 09:15:06 PM »

Throwing in in favor of demos. The only time you will lose sales is a) if the demo actually provides TOO MUCH gameplay/content such that the player is actually satisfied with the demo alone, or b) the player actually wouldn't have liked the game if it had a demo, but bought it anyway to try it out. (A) is a legit problem that you can fix by making smarter demos/registration incentives, and (B) is a sale you shouldn't have had to begin with, frankly. The player in B will feel burned by you and your game, and that's the last impression you want to leave people with.

Another approach that I don't think I've seen mentioned yet is to release for free on certain platforms, and for $$ on others. The Flash versions of Canabalt and Radical Fishing are free, as are the Mac/PC versions of Super Crate Box. They cost monies on iOS, and they all had great launchesó Canabalt and Ridiculous Fishing at $2.99 to boot.

Speaking of platformsó the more the better. From what I've heard anecdotally and seen in things like Humble Bundle, revenue seems to break down as 2:1:1 Windows/Mac/Linux. This is 10x as important if you're coming from Mac/Linux (trust me ;p)
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« Reply #50 on: March 19, 2013, 09:03:29 PM »

would also add C) The demo ends too late in the game.

Democracy 2's demo had about 11 hours of gameplay. Democracy 2 full had about 15 hours of gameplay. Boy, was I pissed. The full version didn't really unlock any gameplay, it was something like sitting through a movie and paying to see the ending. Refused to buy another cliffski game ever since.

(well, yeah, you can classify it as (A) but it was more like not being satisfied with the demo and the full game)
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« Reply #51 on: April 02, 2013, 11:49:07 PM »

I think it's safe to say that demos can lead to two polarizing outcomes.

Either your demo is bad and it hurts your sales, or your demo is great and it increases your sales. I'm just asking the question of whether it's actually worth going to the trouble to make a demo... especially if you have no experience making them so you end up making a demo that poorly shows off your game or frustrates potential customers and drives them off.

I mean, unless you know what you're doing, I think demos can be detrimental to sales.

As for the reasoning that it allows people to test to make sure the game works... well that can be accomplished merely by having a few screens run through some gameplay... it wouldn't even need to be a demo, just a system test. It's one benefit of a demo, but it is by no means a sole reason for creating a demo.

To me I see it as going to see a new movie. You get a trailer and that's it. You don't get to "demo" the movie to see if you will like it or not. I think that's a silly concept. Sure they have those "first 10 minutes of the movie" promos and stuff, but never to the point where they have a movie where you can watch the first 30 minutes and then pay to see the rest... or worse, a movie that has pieces cut out of it, ad banners covering 20% of the movie while you watch it.

As I stated before. When a person reaches your game page, they should either want to buy your game based on the info and trailer/screenshots, or they don't want to buy it. A demo to me just doesn't serve any purpose other than to test to see if the game works and to potentially lose sales.

Do I want to screw over customers by "fooling" them into buying a game they don't want to play? No. But I don't want to lose customers because my demo wasn't "just right". I don't want to lose customers who may have actually enjoyed my game but hated my demo. If you release a demo, you are basically releasing two games. The demo being the free game that has to convince people to buy the second one.
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« Reply #52 on: April 03, 2013, 12:12:32 AM »

I'm just asking the question of whether it's actually worth going to the trouble to make a demo...

the thing is, even though bad demos are bad, exactly how do you expect that anyone will buy your game without a demo? if you're an unknown indie (not famous, no marketing budget) there's no way that anyone will even have heard of your game. the demo is what attracts people to your site, because they want something to play for free. if there's nothing on your site to play for free, why would they even bother going there? to look at some screenshots, and decide whether to buy a game based on those? as a beginning indie, when nobody has ever heard of you, it's a lot easier to convince someone to try out your game than to convince someone to buy your game without trying it. when you're as famous as cactus, *then* you can start thinking about not doing a demo, but chances are you aren't anywhere near as famous as he is
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« Reply #53 on: April 03, 2013, 02:50:19 PM »

the thing is, even though bad demos are bad, exactly how do you expect that anyone will buy your game without a demo? if you're an unknown indie (not famous, no marketing budget) there's no way that anyone will even have heard of your game. the demo is what attracts people to your site, because they want something to play for free. if there's nothing on your site to play for free, why would they even bother going there? to look at some screenshots, and decide whether to buy a game based on those? as a beginning indie, when nobody has ever heard of you, it's a lot easier to convince someone to try out your game than to convince someone to buy your game without trying it. when you're as famous as cactus, *then* you can start thinking about not doing a demo, but chances are you aren't anywhere near as famous as he is

I purchased Terraria based on the Steam trailer. I purchased Minecraft based on a Let's Play video on youtube. I purchased a few indie games on Steam merely because they looked interesting and were on sale. I've purchased indie games that looked fun from the trailers/screenshots when I just wanted to support the developer and thought they did a great job on the game, even if I wasn't going to really play it much.

For all of these purchases, I had no knowledge of the developers beforehand or how "popular" they were. I purchased solely based on what I saw from trailers/descriptions/screenshots. No demos were played.

I honestly have no clue why you insist on bringing up how well known *I* am, specifically. What does that have to do with whether or not my opinions have any validity? Just because I haven't released a game means I can't have an opinion that releasing a demo is bad? I think my first hand purchasing experiences are enough to validate my opinion.

Not sure why you feel the need to personally attack me in order to try and strengthen your point.

I haven't seen a lot of replies where people have stated that they played a demo and then bought the game because of the demo. Have you? Maybe I'm missing something.

Also I am fairly certain that if your demo is only attracting people who are looking for free games to play, then they aren't going to be pulling out their wallets in the first place. They want free. Once they have their fill of your demo, they will more than likely move on. Unless the demo of your game is AMAZING, and does everything right... which as I've been arguing, is not very likely.
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« Reply #54 on: April 03, 2013, 03:04:21 PM »

Another big factor in favor of no demos would be Kickstarter. There have been many games that were successfully funded with preorders and no demo.

Here is a great example:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pixelscopic/delvers-drop

Delvers Drop is a game that pulled in $150,745 and has no demo.

The company Pixelscopic, has only released one game prior (Moshi Monsters in 2008) and somehow I'm doubting that it is the reason people bought this new game.

They sold over 4000 copies of their game with nothing but a trailer and a kickstarter page. People on Kickstarter are selling games that don't even exist yet. Now please continue to explain to me how a nobody won't be able to sell their game without a demo.
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« Reply #55 on: April 03, 2013, 04:50:16 PM »

i didn't mean you specifically, i meant you in general; that's why i said chances are you aren't as famous as cactus. it's possible that you are, i don't know. i meant most indies are not as famous as cactus, and what works for celebrity indies doesn't necessarily work for normal indies. also i don't see how it's a personal attack at all to say that you aren't famous yet, it's not a bad thing to not be a celebrity, it's just the default state that most of us have to work with

you're also comparing kickstarters of games that doesn't exist to games which do exist and are on sale. kickstarter is *not* for sales, it's not even for pre-orders. it's for funding ideas for games. the two are completely incomparable, you're comparing apples and oranges

you're also comparing terraria and minecraft (both of which have demos, as an aside) to normal indie games. they're terraria and minecraft! both of them have made tens of millions of dollars. besides, think of it this way: you probably would not have heard of either of those games if they did not have demos, because even if you didn't play the demo before you bought them, someone else along the chain did play the demo before buying it, and you may have heard about those games from someone who bought the game after playing the demo

and of course i've bought games after playing the demo, i said so earlier in the thread, and so did many others (such as teegee); most of the indie games i own either came from playing the demo first, or bundles. i have never bought an indie game without first playing the demo, unless it's a bundle game; i own hundreds of indie games and have probably played thousands of indie game demos

but again that's completely irrelevant, who cares what my or your purchasing habits are? what matters are statistics and the collective knowledge of the indie game developers that goes back decades, not whether you or i personally buy games from demos or not. you can't make judgements based on that, that's like deciding what type of ice cream flavors to sell based on the ceo of the ice cream company's personal favorite flavors. anecdotal evidence is useless information considering how extensive the other data is:

the reason i know demos work isn't because i personally buy games based on demos, the reason i know demos work is because people have bought my games based on the demo, told me that the demo convinced them to buy it, and because other indie game developers who tried A/B testing with demos and without found that demos increased sales, and because demos have been a staple of indie game development since early shareware/indie developers like epic and id popularized the idea by having one episode free and the other two episodes paid

having demos is what made doom, jazz jackrabbit, and the other pc games of that era the success stories they were, and since that time indie developers have been refining the idea of demos to improve their sales year upon year, finally to reach the modern ideal of a demo that lasts about one hour, has a buy button on the title screen, has a summary of what the full version contains, has a price in a certain range, etc. etc., which about 99% of commercial indie pc games use -- it just seems silly to throw decades of knowledge away just because you personally don't play demos
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« Reply #56 on: April 03, 2013, 08:47:40 PM »

It's not that I'm throwing away other relevant information. I'm just stoking the fire to get a broader view about demos.

I won't argue about my purchasing options, but you were mentioning that I might have heard about these games through other people, and I hadn't heard anything from anyone. The games I listed were games that I discovered on my own and purchased without playing a demo. But as you said, this really doesn't matter. My personal choices don't matter. But I can't shake the fact that a demo seems to be counter-productive the majority of the time.

I guess there is no real way to prove a demo is good for your game other than the A/B test, which you mentioned other devs have done, but didn't actually list who these devs are and any sort of statistics to back up the point. Plus you'd need to poll every single person who plays the demo and ask them if they purchased the game because of the demo or if they didn't purchase the game because of the demo, etc... It would really be pretty impossible to come to a final conclusion on it.

In your personal situation, maybe your demo fell under the "good" demo category, and helped your sales. This again does not mean it's safe to assume that demos are always good. If your demo was badly put together, you might lose sales because of it. (also I want to point out that most people who didn't like your demo aren't going to tell you about it)

Again I'm only trying to point out that a demo is just creating a possible point of failure. If your game is amazing but you just don't understand how to put a good demo together, it could cost you sales.

But I still stand by the Kickstarter comparison. When you post a trailer of your game and screenshots and a description of your game, you are selling people on the idea of your game. If people like the idea of your game, they might purchase it from that alone. It's not comparing apples to oranges at all. People purchased Delver's Drop because they liked what they saw. They were even willing to buy a game they can't even immediately play after purchase. I still feel like having an amazing trailer/advertisement can really sell the game all on its own. Without the need for a demo.

But that doesn't mean I might not change my mind by the time I finish my game and decide to make a demo anyway. I just like throwing the idea out there and getting some different views. I'll end with just saying that I haven't been totally convinced that demos are always a good thing. If you are trying to tell me demos can "sometimes" help sell your game, then I can buy that. But I'm still iffy about demos being a *must* for an indie dev to release.
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« Reply #57 on: April 04, 2013, 12:27:19 AM »

If you have a trailer like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sMFVp2-MEOk you don't have to have a demo, attested by me

(yep, bought it without looking for a demo, I watched the trailer about 7 times tho)
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« Reply #58 on: April 04, 2013, 04:23:54 AM »

Konidia, I don't think you understand what A/B testing does. It removes the need for a poll. That's the entire point of it.

Have 2 websites. 1 website has the demo. The other does not. Both websites have the same flow, urls, everything. The only difference is that one is missing the demo. You create this website by having code generate what users see randomly. People fall in group A, or B, hence the name.

Then your stats tell you everything. You'll get numbers like this:
  . group A - demo; group B - no demo
  . 10% of visitors in group A purchase
  . 5% of visitors in group B purchase

That tells you that posting a demo doubles sales. No poll necessary.

You can do more:
  . 6% of people who saw a demo available but didn't play it purchased
  . 50% of visitors played the demo
  . 18% of people who played the demo purchased.

And more:
  . 8% of visitors purchase
  . 30% of visitors watch a trailer if it is on the main page
  . 15% do if it is on a different page
  . 35% of people who watch the trailer try the demo, 25% buy purchase (group A)
  etc.

Polling is garbage because it relies on self-analysis. A/B testing is literally the scientific root of behavioural science. The ultimate study of people is done with A/B. Everything else is weaker.

More stats. Produce two demos. Have 1 show level 1,3,5. Have the other show levels 1,3 but add an extra power. Stats:
  . demo A is played on average 20% more
  . demo B converts 15% more people

See how endless A/B testing can get! Holy shit!

Some more. Make 3 trailers. Use the same lengths, music, beats. But change the sections of the game you show. Focus on different things in each. A/B test with those. See which ones get the most bites. Produce demos customized to the trailer people like the most - complicated. Oh god....

The thing with demos is that they produce a new wall for players to go over. Finding out about a game, deciding to put time into it, downloading it, these things aren't impacted much by a new barrier: purchasing. But I'll tell you what. I think most demos are terrible.

Consider. When I see a game I might like I need to know more. Where do I go? Review sites, youtube. I watch gameplay videos and commentaries. Why? Because the demo will take too long to give me a good idea of what the game is actually like. Can I run the demo? Only on PC. Will it take long to download? Does one exist? Will it show me what I need to know? Will I have to check the review sites _anyway_? A demo is a big commitment. A review site is not. I check a review in 5 minutes, while I'm drinking my morning coffee. I can do it with headphones on on the train. I can do it at work if no one is looking.

I think the issue is that most demos f-ing blow. They don't give a good look at what the game is actually like to play long-term. They are just a brief look at the beginning. You have to learn the controls, get in the groove, commit, then have your experience cut short. In short, our demo creating skills suck. Our demos don't teach us anything about the games that they are for. They just piss us off.

The rise of F2P is clear proof that people want to try before they buy. The thing with F2P is that your experience at the free level is a full experience. You know that when you download. Demos are not like that. Even at their best they are a story with the climax cut out. Who wants that? They are not complete products. Trailers are complete products. Ads are complete products - for their 2 second imprint length. Demos are not.

Make better demos. That's where this is at.
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« Reply #59 on: April 04, 2013, 10:56:45 AM »

Graham I think you helped to illustrate why demos do more harm than good.

I feel like in order to make a "good" demo, you have to spend a lot of time away from your actual game, polishing the demo and making sure people get enough out of it to want to buy the full thing. The problem is that if you don't "cut a player short" in the demo, then you are saying you need to basically have a complete package for the demo. Not the full game, but a game that has a beginning, middle and end. If that's the case, I feel like even more people will just play the free, shorter version of your game, and not even bother with paying for the longer version.

Not to mention sometimes demos are created before the game is fully polished, so you end up with a lackluster demo for a polished game. That, or you finish a game and then just either put a time limit or level cap on the demo, and that just annoys people.

I would definitely like to see some legit A/B testing results for demos.

I just see selling your game as having players jump hurdles to get it.

Hurdle #1: Getting a person to find your game. Through advertisement, word of mouth, etc

Hurdle #2: Getting the person to actually want to play your game. Through trailers, screenshots, descriptions, word of mouth, etc

Hurdle #3: Letting the person purchase the game easily and quickly.

Why add in lots of additional hurdles between #2 and #3 with a demo?

Hurdle #2A: Get people to download the demo (could be a large file size, slow servers, demo download server is down, etc...

Hurdle #2B: Have people actually enjoy the demo

Hurdle #2C: Have people not get frustrated by how short or limited the demo is, turning them off to the game entirely

Hurdle #2D: Convince people the full game has a lot more to offer than the demo. Keep them from being satisfied with just playing the free demo and moving on.

Etc...

I mean wouldn't you want the clearest path to purchasing your game as possible? The arguments FOR demos are nice and all, but do they outweigh the arguments AGAINST demos? That's my question really.


What are the reasons for having a demo? So far I've seen:
- lets people test your game to make sure it works for them
- ... that's it?

If you are worried about people not being able to play your game properly after they purchase it... offer a refund?

As for "ripping people off" by not letting them try your game before they buy... Uhh well, if your game is that bad, then demos aren't going to help you. I'm not talking about making a crappy game and then lying to people by making up stuff that looks way better for the game trailer. You might make some money in the short term by tricking people, but your game studio's image will be tarnished and nobody will want to buy from you again. If you have confidence that your game is awesome and people will enjoy it, then why do you need a demo? I don't get it.
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