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[PATV] Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 10: Demo Daze

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited October 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub

image[PATV] Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 10: Demo Daze

This week, we explain why you don't see more game demos being released.
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Come discuss this topic in the forums!

Read the full story here

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  • wandrecanadawandrecanada Registered User
    The most damning part about the majority of those scenarios is that games that are not top quality get away with sales they do not deserve. If companies were somehow forced to market based on quality (eg: demo material) we'd probably see less people wasting $60 on games that are awful.

    If demos were expected or even required of companies it could be included in the dev cycle instead of shoehorned in and at the least give the buying public a fighting chance against companies who profiteer off lemons. (see: Kalypso and Legends of Pegasus for a recent example)

  • JamesWildDevJamesWildDev Registered User
    If most players can get their fill from the demo, (and don't come back for more) then the game should have been as long as the demo.

    This is the mentality behind mobile games today, and while it receives criticism, it's far from wrong.

  • AethersAethers Registered User new member
    Of course, the publishers could always sell games at a lower price. I know I really only by games on Steam when they are having their insane sales. Otherwise I only by a handful of games a year. Data from devs using Steam say they make more sales and more money in a Steam Sale than they do at a regular price.

  • RaabeRaabe Registered User new member
    So, tell people that cigarettes may be hazardous to your health won't make you sell more. Why then do companies do that? (At least here, Brazil)

  • metroidkillahmetroidkillah Local Bunman Free Country, USARegistered User regular
    It's funny, because I've only downloaded one demo off of XBL (Kingdoms of Amalur), and that only because it gave me free stuff for Mass Effect 3. There have been many other games that I've seen and thought to myself "I should get the demo and see what I think", but then I proceed to be extra lazy.

    On a related note, I had some small interest in KoA after reading Gabe & Tycho's reviews, but after playing the demo, I figured Fable (which I already own) would fulfill my Action/RPG needs. So yeah, EC's pretty much right on with this one.

    I'm not a nice guy, I just play one in real life.
  • spoonybard.hahsspoonybard.hahs Registered User regular
    I really wish they would have gone further into the metrics used for those studies. They seem highly dubious if they are just relying on the comparison of how a game succeeds versus if it had a demo. I know I've never been asked how demo has affected me in my purchasing decisions. And even if these studies do have player input, how big was the study group? If it was less than 250 participants, then the results can be easily questioned, since larger test groups equals better and clearer results.

    Also, what about how a demo is set up? Not every demo is the same. Some give you a pathetically small amount of time in the game, others give you a surprisingly long time. Some section off abilities and features. This argument also makes a blanket statement about gamers; essentially we don't understand that if a demo comes out a head of launch that it doesn't reflect the end quality of the game.

    Then there's the fact that they entirely ignore Sony. If anyone is doing demos right at this time, it's them. If you're a PSN+ subscriber, you get to download the entire game, and then get a whole hour of unrestricted play. Even then, the demos not offered through PSN+ are usually lengthy and not feature restrictive.

    The issue of demos can easily be solved by releasing them at launch. If gamers are going to wait for reviews or word of mouth, they can get the demo day one and make up their mind for themselves. And a day one demo ensures the end result is more closely represented.

  • terryterry Registered User
    Demo's can be useful for less established games. An RPG you never heard about or some platformer with interesting mechanics could draw people in that would be too scared to pay money for something new. I believe Recettear drew in many people that way.
    I think one of the most important things for a succesfull demo is to allow you to continue with the real game where you finished the demo right away. I know I got pulled in a vew times that way.

  • RiffRaff14RiffRaff14 Registered User new member
    On the mobile platform I've seen the pay as you go model work, but I also think this will lead to issues with niche games.

    Developers are making games for iOS. Some make the extra effort to put the game on Android as well. For the game Neuroshima Hex (a great board game that moved to mobile) the developer has many more features on iOS than they do on Android. They said that if the Android version sells they will work on some of the extras for that platform. It's done well enough to add two expansion armies, but it still doesn't have player-vs-player and some of the other features as iOS. And I think it may never.

    Will the pay as you go model be detrimental to those niche or outside the box type of games? Won't it just drive the big mainstream games to get bigger and the small games to only ever have a few levels available since not enough people pay for the next levels? I hope not.

  • EjnarHEjnarH Registered User new member
    I find that demos have worked extremely well for awesome games which I didn't necessarily know would be awesome; that is, they either had low marketing budgets and/or were innovating in ways that might not have me completely convinced at first. Command and Conquer Renegade is an example of such a game, which really didn't seem all that exciting (medium marketing, unaware of their exciting new mechanics) till I tried the multiplayer demo and was completely sold on it.

    I also find that XBLA has a lot of success with providing demos along with good encouragement to try the full deal - I have come to expect them on that platform and very rarely buy a game without having been able to try a demo, unless it has ridiculously awesome reviews.

    For single-player games on the PC, I simply wouldn't bother. Years of untrustworthy advertising has taught me that, when in doubt, I should always get my hands on a full version of the game and then decide whether I want to pay for it along the way. Demos don't have the same credibility and often require starting over when upgrading to the full game.

  • brento73brento73 Registered User regular
    @Raabe I don't know how the laws in Brazil work, but in the US companies are required, by law, to tell you that cigarettes are bad for your health.

    @metroidkillah I hadn't even heard of KoA until that demo came out, and based on the demo I ended up buying it. My two cents? The combat is much more entertaining that Fable(which I also enjoyed)

  • franksandsfranksands Registered User regular
    Maybe that demo logic works for AAA games, but I think that it fails on smaller cheaper games, like from XBLA. The only reason I bought Dust:An Elysian Tale or Mark of the Ninja was because of the demo. And it's much easier to make to leap spending $15 than $60.
    I am not a developer, so I would really like to know much effort does having a simple demo would add to the overall effort of the game? Does the demo have to be certified and pass through all the hoops of a regular full game? If so, wouldn't it be better to simplify this process so that delivering demos would be easier?

  • Don RebaDon Reba Registered User regular
    IMO, TPB fulfills the need for demos quite nicely as it is. I don't even want official demos, since they can be misleading and because, as you said, they sap developers efforts from the actual products.

  • SynraSynra Registered User regular
    You know, I do have a problem with this episode. It's our fault as consumers for not buying crappy or sub-par games? If a game is bad, it's their fault, they are bad game makers, and they should feel bad. As consumers we should have a right to purchase a good product that we want to own. It doesn't need to be a game of the year, but if a game can't live up to reasonable standards, then it is absolutely the fault of the people behind the game.

    As consumers we simply have a right to know. Covering up a bad game is not an excuse to skip the demo. This brings me back to that older EC episode where they said "Write to the developers and tell them: 'I didn't buy your game because you didn't put out a demo'".

  • rembrandtqeinsteinrembrandtqeinstein Registered User regular
    The XCOM demo sold me on the game. As a fan of the original (and tftd, and apocalypse, and interceptor even) I was highly skeptical of the reboot and was going to wait and see until reviews came in and my friends bought it first.

    The demo convinced me that the new tactics system worked and would be worth playing and after I played the demo I pre-ordered.

    So without the demo I would have waited until the steam xmas sale or something.

  • ptcbeanptcbean Registered User regular
    I guess I'm the outlier here. I've bought perhaps a dozen indie games based on their demos, and the only game I can remember rejecting based on its demo was Dragon Age 2. It seems to me that the data should be broken down into separate categories for companies that can afford to advertise in some other way and companies that can't, or even "how effective is it compared to any other form of advertising?"

  • iab19iab19 Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Yeah, yeah, demos, we're all gonna miss them, sure... WHERE THE HECK IS ALLISON!!??

    iab19 on
    Don Reba
  • DragonfangsDragonfangs Registered User
    I don't think I've ever been interested in a game and changed my mind after a demo. While the reverse has happened dozens of times.

    If I'm skeptical about a game, and there's no way to try it, I'll just ignore it. There are plenty of sure-fire options on the market, why should I take risks?

  • MiltherinMiltherin Registered User
    I think for the first time ever I've disagreed with the main point of a video, or at least felt it didn't address the underlying reasons. Human beings naturally feel more happiness during the anticipatory phase than during the actual experience. The last time you were going to go on a vacation, how stoked were you that you were going to go on a vacation up until you went, and then compare it to the enjoyment of what actually happened. Did you ever feel like you got overly stoked and it didn't live up to that expectation? That's the reason why demos hurt sales, because they give us that preemptive conclusion to the anticipatory phase, and there's really not a lot to stick around for after unless the demo is amazing. Trailers and gameplay videos are better, because they make us want more, since we can't actually experience it yet.

  • gotrygotry Registered User
    There already is an alternative to demos: piracy. I've pirated plenty of games, the overwhelming majority of which I don't finish, and most of which I lose intrest in after a couple of hours. And the reason is, that I already know what games I'm going to buy long before they come out. My budget is spent on games that I don't pirate, so to say. Though occasionally, playing a pirated game makes me want to buy the whole package, most of the time I pirate games what wouldn't have bought even if they weren't available for free.

    Maybe the real solution to this, and piracy is for publishers to release their games for free, with a bunch of non-essential features, like multiplayer, patch support and some minor content disabled. I promise you that most pirates will rather get their games straight from the developer/publisher, than from dodgy torrents riddled with viruses. This would also be massively beneficial for the publishers, as they would be able to interact with people who play their games (which you can't do if people just crack your game). As in, you could advertise the benefits of the full game to people who would pirate your game anyway. And hell, publishers could advertise for other things too.

    randomfoxkoolaroomowdownjoeDon RebatheResetButtonRyeThanatos2krainbowhyphenIntotheSkyAdmiralMemo
  • randomfoxrandomfox Registered User new member
    This episode was kinda surprisingly cynical. It tried to end on a hopeful note and all, but still. The main body of the video where they were talking about why there's no demos anymore kinda painted developers as soulless, greedy money obsessed husks who would rather scorn public demand in favor of protecting their bottom line. And the whole beginning three reasons for no demos spells that out perfectly: the game is bad, but the devs are only interested in demos if it fools us into wasting our money on a substandard product? Isn't that kinda missing the point of WHY we want demos in the first place? How is it our fault those developers are so full of themselves they think they deserve a profit for releasing such a terrible game? Like I said, it might be realistic, but still not really a message you more or less expect from this show and I wonder if they were aware of how that would come off regardless of the manner they presented it in.

    Don RebatheResetButtonthe7ofSwordsThanatos2k
  • RabidKittenRabidKitten Registered User regular
    Does this same set of scenarios apply to demoing you game at Shows/Conventions. Because press generation is probably THE most important thing when it comes to generating sales.

  • DigitalJanusDigitalJanus Registered User new member
    You're thinking along the same lines I am, RabidKitten. A lot of studios are already making demos for shows and cons. How much additional time and money needs to be spent to make those available for customers through the online networks?

    Also, some publishers like EA have been known to bribe customers into playing demos, e.g. "play this demo and get a free DLC item when the full game comes out" or "play the demo for game X and get free DLC for our other game Y". Leaving aside criticism of EA's marketing practices, is there any indication these tactics work?

  • dr-schreaberdr-schreaber Registered User regular
    OMG RUNIC AT 4:44

  • mada7mada7 Registered User new member
    I can think of one game that I wasnt planning on getting that I bought because of the demo., Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I got the demo because it game extra things for mass effect 3 but I liked what I was doing enough to want to keep playing it afterwards. Typically though I only get demos of games Im on the fence about but have heard of

  • theResetButtontheResetButton Registered User regular
    So the argument makes sense from a business standpoint, but from a consumer rights standpoint, it's really dumb. Half the reasons were that demos might prevent us from buying crap or mediocre games. Call me crazy, but I think that's a good thing.

    Maybe instead of blaming consumers, just try not making crap games?

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  • RyeRye Registered User regular
    @theResetButton: I think what you're displaying is a bit of "Videogame snobbery" (which is fine). There are a bunch of "meh" games that I really enjoyed and hold a special place in my memories that can't be reflected in the metascore etc. They really weren't great games, honestly, but they were fun and special. If they had demos that caused their game to not ship, or rather, not be carried by normal vendors etc. I might not have gotten to play them.

    Saying that only the top of the top deserve exposure and money is a very elitist attitude to have.

  • KatzebarKatzebar Registered User regular
    Good example of a so-so game with a ridiculously good demo? Brutal Legend. A friend and I bought it expecting it to be, like, some sort of heavy-metal God of War with some zany dialogue from people in music and film, and it turned out...Very different. Needless to say, I now have my money back.

  • DevantDevant Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    I had six separate people tell me not to buy Dishonored. I was kind of confused as to why it was listed as an example of a good game. Then I remember the advertisement before the video started. For the same reason Metacritic is a terrible website. The video game news makes way more money sucking a the teat of developers advertising dollars than through actual reporting integrity. It's disappointing to see Extra Credits go down the same road.

    As far as demos go, the real problem is how fast video games devalue. $60 is a very high price point on media, compare it to hard cover books or movies. Almost all media drops about %50 in value after the first 6 months. Releasing a demo ahead of the actual game accelerates that schedule.

    Devant on
  • DannyDontDannyDont Registered User regular
    This may all be true for triple-A titles, which may think of demos as just a broken tool in their marketing tool belt, but for indie titles, I think the opposite may be true.

    Sure, I can think of dozens of AAAs that I dropped because I played them already. Heck, a racing game pretty much gives me all I want in the demo already.

    But think of all the games in XBLA or Indie channel that CAN ONLY INTRODUCE THEMSELVES via a demo. They don't get the bus-stop posters and the IGN trailer reveals. They get the demo.

    I can honestly say I bought MARK OF THE NINJA, BASTION, MONDAY NIGHT COMBAT, GOTHAM CITY IMPOSTERS, WORLD OF GOO and a slew of Indie games solely because the demo showed me a great game that I would never have known about because the marketing budget wasn't there.

    You might say Humble Indie Bundle is doing the same thing.

    The point is that if you're an indie developer, and you've made a great game, the only way to show people can be the demo.

  • Indigo DarkwolfIndigo Darkwolf Registered User regular
    @theResetButton So let's assume that all games in the future were great games. Now 2/3rds of all demo outcomes are still a loss, and the last outcome has no impact on sales to within statistical error. So there's still no reason to spend the money and time on demos when that time and money could go into making a great game even better.

  • MonoMono Registered User regular
    Why do demos like to drop you into the middle of the game?

    Without the starting training-wheel levels, I don't know how to play and won't be able to appreciate the game mechanics of the later levels.

    Why don't they just release the first few levels of the game as the demo?

    If I like what I see and want more, I will buy the game.

    They can even doing things like end the demo on a cliff-hanger - even though I hate it when TV shows do that.

    When I download a demo, it's to check out your game. So when your demo just make me go "WTF is this?!", that isn't a good reaction to get.

  • Indigo DarkwolfIndigo Darkwolf Registered User regular
    @DannyDont The crux of the argument for or against demos comes from a comparison of sales between games that have no demo or marketing, games that have a demo and no marketing, games that have a demo and marketing, and games that only have marketing (specifically a trailer). EEDAR presented the chart of this data at PAX Prime 2009, and the conclusions were thus:
    1. Games with no demo or trailer sold worst.
    2. Games with a demo and no trailer 2nd worst.
    3. Games with a demo and a trailer sold 2nd best.
    4. Games with no demo, but had a trailer, sold best.

    I believe it is true that EEDAR only considered professionally published, retail games, and not indie games. But within that data, it's pretty clear - the trailer is more valuable than the demo, and once you have a trailer, having a demo actually hurts.

  • SomeNorCalGuySomeNorCalGuy Registered User regular
    Am I the only one that uses Redbox game rentals to fulfill that need to "try-before-you-buy"? For $2 (US) I can rent a game for 24 hours which is more than enough time to appreciate the core qualities of just about any game. Demos only give you a small taste of a game AND any progress you make has no bearing when and if you buy the full version. With a $2 overnight rental I can take up right where I left off, if and when I plunk down $60 for the real thing.

    Sure, they don't have every game you'd want to try and you may have to go on a small quest if the kiosk at the neighborhood 7-11 doesn't have what you're looking for. But for just about anyone living near other people who would like to try one of the more popular games out there and don't just want to rely on the opinion of a reviewer you trust, Redbox (or other kiosk-related movie/game rental platform) is a great way to try-before-you-buy without getting a varnished demo or shelling out 8-10 hours of minimum wage on a game you're kinda meh about. (Or for that matter, what about GameFly and other monthly fee game rental services? Why do we even need demos when there's so many other ways to try out a full-version disc-based game before you buy it?)

  • Thanatos2kThanatos2k Registered User regular
    It makes sense. Demos do nothing for you if you already have a great game, and if your game isn't great, they're more likely to hurt you instead of helping you. So what reason is there to make them?

  • LazyDogJumperLazyDogJumper Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    @SomeNorCalGuy The problem with your argument is that these methods aren't actually making much revenue for the company making the demo. Rental services are much like Gamestop, where they make the majority of the profits from the games. I can't say for certain whether they pay a fee each time a game is rented or if theres only a 1 time fee for the rentor but bottom line is they are making the profit, not the game studio. And furthermore, theres probably more people who will play and beat the game, or decide they don't need to, than will actually purchase the game when a large number of games nowadays can be beaten in 3-4 days of gaming, which translates to FAR less than $60 wherever you rent it.

    LazyDogJumper on
  • finnithfinnith TorontoRegistered User regular
    Given the fact that publishers these days are consolidated, large companies, it would make sense that they would trust the data and follow the strategies EEDAR set for them. However, we have seen these same big publishers offer exclusive access to "betas" to people who have pre-ordered or signed-up or something like that. Have they talked about betas before because I was surprised that it wasn't talked about here, they're basically the same thing at this point.

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  • ran88dom99ran88dom99 Registered User regular
    @Indigo Darkwolf Games For Fools Corp always inflates it's sales numbers and long running franchises with fans don't bother with demos.

  • RoyceSraphimRoyceSraphim Registered User regular
    Well, the people signing up for the beta usually had an interest before they were offered the beta were pretty much a certain sale. Have you ever known of people signing up for a beta they had no interest in?

  • DannyDontDannyDont Registered User regular
    edited October 2012

    Thanks for the info. That seems fair enough (and I stand corrected). I suppose even the indies I'm talking about could benefit from spending their resources on trailers.

    DannyDont on
  • TownClowneTownClowne Registered User
    I think PC gamers desire demos and can make good use of them, and they might handle it a bit differently from console gamers. Some PC players will check demos to see if they're bad ports, and others will use demos to see if a game will run if they have an old rig. I had many times that I bought a game for the crappy middle-of-the-road laptop I used to have, only to find that it turned into a slideshow at any setting higher than "Very Ugly" and any resolution higher than 800x600. Stupidity on my part, but I had other games that I played the demo of and bought based on whether they work or not. Also, since you don't have to get a demo certified on PC, it makes the process a bit easier for a developer.

    On another note, I use demos of popular games to determine both whether I'm interested or not, and how soon I want to buy them if I'm planning to do so. After playing the XCOM demo, I regretted my Dishonored preorder, as I felt like I'd rather be playing XCOM for a good while due to how solid the mechanics in the demo felt, and I could wait for Dishonored to be on sale later. Don't get me wrong, I love Dishonored, but I knew I would burn through it absurdly fast.

    @Devant Extra Credits isn't selling out, designers and creative thinkers appreciate Dishonored in how it's made and what it accomplishes as a game. Your buddies telling you not to buy it has nothing to do with the quality of the game, it's praised by most players and most critics. Perhaps it doesn't appeal to your group of friends or the kind of gamer that you are. Gamers that are primarily interested in sports, strategy, or modern/futuristic shooter games probably won't have much of an interest in a stealth/action game. Is it a bad game? That's entirely opinion, and Extra Credits has the opinion that it's a good one. The fact that they readily share that opinion, and do so with other games as well, does not mean that they've sold out. Many gamers, and some developers, will explain some games in terms of others. Dishonored was likened to Bioshock, Thief, and Deus Ex in interviews with the developers. None of those are from the same publisher or studio (save for Arkane doing some art for Bioshock 2), but by what you're saying, they're selling out to 2K and Square Enix/Eidos for mentioning those and possibly regarding them as good.

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