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



  • twistedmetalheadtwistedmetalhead Registered User new member
    Am I the only one, who rents games to see if they are worth buying instead of playing the demo ?

  • Titanium DragonTitanium Dragon Registered User regular
    @ResetButton: If people were capable of not making bad games, they would do so. Do you think companies intentionally make bad games? I don't think they do.

  • darkmage0707077darkmage0707077 Registered User regular
    @twistedmetalhead: I used to rent all the time, every week, until Blockbuster closed in my area and the nearest one was then over 20 miles away with a worse selection.

    Unfortunately, as mentioned in the video, most video game rental stores (Blockbuster, mainly) are boarding up due to declining consumer interest. So a lot of us no longer have easy access to game rental stores. Besides, except for ONE notable time (a blockbuster back in the mid 90s), no game rental company puts out PC games to rent - for obvious reasons - so PC gamers have and will always be out of luck there.

    You could make a strong argument for Gamefly's rental service being pretty awesome, but the flaw in this compared to Blockbuster is that you still have to pay each month *even if there are no games you want to rent*. Did the moons align and every developer/publisher in existence simultaneously crap out an unholy abomination made from The Bernstein Bares (actual crappy NES game), E.T. and Bible Adventures this month? Too bad, you still pay for the service, tough luck! I've got enough to pay for as it is without something that may or may not actually deliver any real value to me after paying, thanks.

    All in all, video game rentals are going the way of pure video game arcades, which is sad, since I've noticed my console game purchases have decreased drastically over the inability to try a game before I buy it. Hopefully they'll figure out a way to bring that experience back with the next console generation (banking on improved steaming abilities here).

    The way of the Paladin:
    To Seek,
    To Learn,
    To Do.

    If the speed of light is faster then the speed of sound, is that why people always appear bright until they speak? o_O
  • AdmiralMemoAdmiralMemo Trekkie Extraordinaire Baltimore, Maryland, USARegistered User regular
    gotry wrote: »
    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.
    I was going to say something along these lines, though the fact is I can count on one hand the number of games I've pirated. However, the main point is that EC seems to be saying the opposite message as they were before. Back in the piracy episode, no demo = piracy = lost sales. Write-in campaign = demo = more sales. Now, in this episode, they're saying demo = lost sales. If both are true (and they can be), then they lose sales whether or not they put out a demo. And that just sucks.

  • SomewhenSomewhen Registered User
    Personally, the function of demos as I see it has been supplanted by the proliferation of Let's Plays you can find for many games. A demo will give you a very selective window that may not be capable of showing everything the game has to offer, while with a video you can see someone playing and (usually) enjoying a game. You can become jealous of the let's player for having so much fun, you can develop a competitive desire to do better when you see a let's player stumble or have trouble with some part of the game.

    From my perspective, let's plays are fun to watch (usually) and I can control how many spoilers I see--if i really want to play the game I'll get it off steam before the sales start rolling.

  • WarmthWarmth Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    And Yet It Moves, Machinarium, Fez, Minecraft, VVVVVV, and Torchlight all convinced me to buy the full game with their demos. Maybe demos only work for indie titles?

    Warmth on
  • philpee2philpee2 Registered User

    First of all, how much can it really cost to release a demo? I mean, they're making those demos for press and conventions like Comic-Con and PAX anyway. The additional cost of putting the same demo on PSN/XBL/Steam can't possibly be that big, can it?

    Second, I think a lot of the problems here can be solved by making a good demo that effectively captures the game. A lot of the negatives this video points out come from either a bad/mediocre game or a bad/mediocre demo. And again, developers should be spending the resources to make a good demo anyway for press/conventions. If they want the press writing positive previews, they need a good demo to begin with.

    Third, I think demos can be enormously helpful for lesser known games. I remember interest for Kingdoms of Amalur being a lot higher after people had a chance to play it. Every game on XBLA has a demo, and I've found that indeed, games that I was hesitant about became purchases after playing the demo. And it's the same on iOS. The odds of me buying a game on iOS that I can't try first are slim to none. Demos only help in the case of indies or relatively unknown titles.

  • OdysseyHomeOdysseyHome Registered User regular
    Most of these demo senarios were about pre-release demos (which is the majority of demos) but wouldn't post-release demos be more successful in encouraging sales since they have the advantage of being a more representative product (excluding patches) and can also offer incentives for full game purchase like a discount or codes for bonus content in the full game.

  • beleesterbeleester Registered User regular
    One method I really hope takes off is Onlive-style time-limited demos. You play the game itself for 30 minutes. It's done over the cloud, so there's no download, no risk of piracy, and you do it with the game itself, so players know exactly what they're getting, while developers don't have to bother spending time and money on the demo. And the beginning of the game is generally what looks the nicest, anyway. It doesn't work for new releases, obviously, but it's really nice for older releases.

  • djungelurbandjungelurban Registered User
    To answer your question... In the last few years. A demo convincing me to buy something wasn't gonna initially? Happened a few times. Number of times it's made me not wanting to buy a game I was planning to buy before? Never.

    Arguably I'm not your average consumer, for example there's nothing released this holiday season holds much interest to me and the only games that generally peaks my interest are from 1 of the maybe 6-7 specific franchises I have a soft spot for (think less CoD and Mass Effect and more Suikoden and Darius), games that obviously do something really new or developers that have proven that they strive to do something new with every new game (this essentially only means Team Ico, Quantic Dream and thatgamecompany). But the only way any of the other developers of other games are ever gonna get me to consider their stuff at full price is if they somehow can show me that their game is really better then I think, and the only time that's gonna happen is if I get to try it. Good, great or even perfect review scores and word of mouth can only help with getting me to consider it for later, at a vastly lower price, and probably used, and we all know how little developers like used sales. So if they want a sale early, the only way to reach me is demos really... But maybe I'm too much of a niche gamer to matter.

  • likalarukulikalaruku Registered User regular
    I'm not a demo person. The last demo I played was for Grim Fandango. I remember liking the game enough to hope TellTale would pick ip up & give it a series, but screaming bloody murder at the inept controls in the demo.

  • ncraikencraike Registered User regular
    @Raabe: CIgarette companies tell people that cigarettes are hazardous to their health because the government passed laws mandating that they have to.

  • willowwispwillowwisp Registered User new member
    How many times have demos encouraged me to buy a game? Many times, the two best examples that come to mind are Legend of Dragoon and Firebugs. I used to be subscribed to a magazine which each week would come with a ps1 disc full of demos and I would enjoy playing these to experience new games in a way I couldn't by just hearing about it, With the two games I mentioned i had never really heard of them before and their reviews and descriptions didn't do much to entice me to buy them (and being from rather small companies advertising was scares) but the demos of them showed me how great the games were and convinced me to buy them, the examples you gave only really hold true when talking about already well known franchises making games but when it is something truly new or a lesser known game demos are a great way of showing a game is good rather than telling.

  • ncraikencraike Registered User regular
    What about "Your game is excellent... but no one realises because you didn't make a demo (and you're a new studio, don't have a big marketing budget, etc)"?

  • vaendrylvaendryl Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Demos really were from a time where peoples source of gaming information were magazines and even many big developers weren't that well known by name yet. also, the gaming market as a whole just wasn't large enough for extensive marketing.

    Doom got massively popular mostly thanks to it's demo. nowadays? games get popular thanks to famous youtube people showing it off. I think most will agree that much of minecraft's success was exactly this.

    Personally, if I'm curious about a game even if it has a demo I'll look on youtube what's being said and *shown* about it. and I'm not even talking about how pirating a game is actually just as easy as downloading a demo. In fact, I know for sure there are people who buy a game they've liked even though they initially pirated it. *cough*.

    vaendryl on
  • wildpeakswildpeaks Registered User
    I miss the F.E.A.R. demos because they were done right: it wasn't a specific level but mashup of several levels of the game (once you play the full game, you can recognize pieces of a room here and there, that's fun) and despite short, it acted as a great interactive teaser, way more engaging than yet another video trailer.

  • TheTurnipKingTheTurnipKing Registered User regular
    I'm not convinced that losing sales is necessarily a bad thing, if the customers you're losing are ones who would have been disgruntled by paying $60 for your game and then go on to develop a bad attitude about your brand, your developer and your publisher.

    Also, a demo doesn't NEED to take a lot of time and money. Remember the old shareware episodic model?

  • ailurusailurus Registered User new member
    For me, the gameplay is only part of the concern in the demo. The main reason I want companies to put out more demos is to see if the game actually works on my computer. I'm not sure how much putting out the demo increases sales for a company, but NOT putting out a demo has cost multiple companies sales, or at best I waited until a steam sale or something to try the game. $10 or maybe $20 I'll take a chance on, but if they want me to shell out $40 to $60 I need to know for sure that its going to at least start up.

  • KamuraiKamurai Registered User new member
    While I generally agree, the data is skewed by the massive amount of crap games out there. Besides a demo should be done so that it leaves the player wanting more. The player should never "get his fill". Acknowledgement of quality control (or lack thereof) offsets a LOT of this. Looking at models like WOW (free to play up to lvl 20) and Starcraft 2 (5 missions in trial) lets people experience enough to know that these ARE the droids they're looking for. An independent demo could be created with the same amount of work, but it comes down to cost effectiveness: build one entity to rule them all, and then flip the switch to drain their wallet. Love you show, thanks.

  • Indigo DarkwolfIndigo Darkwolf Registered User regular
    @Kamurai: The interesting thing about arguing that crap games skew the value of demos is that it means crap games are making demos *more* appealing to developers, not *less*. When a game is bad, that offers more opportunity for the demo to excel and create sales, not less. When a game is great, the demo either takes away sales or contributes negligibly.

    Even if the data were skewed, the data concludes that demos are less effective than trailers, and once you have a trailer then a demo actually hurts sales.

    @ncraike: I think even small developers would benefit more from a good trailer of their game than a demo, and I think the data supports that. The trailer will be less expensive to create, can be posted to YouTube, and if people like it then they'll share the YouTube link with their friends. This is the exact same word of mouth a demo can generate, at lower cost and risk. It's always hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace, which makes it doubly important for small developers to spend their marketing budget as effectively as possible.

  • TPRJonesTPRJones Registered User new member
    Maybe I'm weird, but I can't remember the last time I bought a game that I didn't first play and enjoy the demo for. I can think of several games I am interested in and would probably buy, but there's been no demo for them so I haven't yet. There's too many other good games out there that I can try the demo first on before I commit to buy. It's not because I want to save money, it's because I'm short on time to play, and the demo helps me choose.

  • liffiliffi Registered User
    One reason why companies do demos also is to sell the game or show the game to the people who give them money.

    On one side people make kickstart games they kind of have to make demos there. So there are some valid reasons to do demos still.

  • unclekulikovunclekulikov Registered User regular
    It's a matter of consumer protection for me. When Star Trek Legacy had no demo, it was a bad omen that unfortunately became true. I'm glad there are alternatives to old demos, but I distrust a game that doesn't have a demo available.

  • JormungandrJormungandr Registered User regular
    Yeah, I think the case of a great game with limited brand recognition, a good demo can definitely increase sales.

    So while I agree with EC on A-list games, they aren't the only ones who make great games, and the episode conflates the two a bit too much in my opinion. I completely agree that a demo for a new game from a well-known and respected studio, with many of the same sort of games released already (that are fun to play) wouldn't add a whole lot of business. Arguably not enough for it to be worth spending the time/money to make the demo / incurring the risk of the demo not being a good representation of the full game experience.

    That being said, Firaxis got probably 4 - 5 pre-orders for X-Com from among my close friends on the strength of their demo. I had played the original games a bit back when they came out. I hadn't really gotten into them then, but I was interested enough in the reboot to check out the demo. I loved it, and wanted to play more, so I pre-ordered. Some of my friends saw that I'd pre-ordered and asked me about the game. I was able to tell them to just play the demo and see if they liked it. Like I said, 4-5 pre-orders later, we're all getting each other killed in the fight to save the earth from aliens.

    That's a simple example, but I think sometimes there is no substitute for playing a game for 10 minutes or an hour to decide whether you will enjoy it or not. I would not have pre-ordered X-Com without the demo. And even if I had, I would not have been able to get 4-5 of my friends to pre-order without the demo. Granted most of them would have bought it after I showed it to them once I owned it, but that's not the same thing, especially with how important first-day sales are.

  • SantaPrimeSantaPrime Registered User regular
    I completely disagree. Bad marketing is not the consumers fault. That's what demos are. Marketing. Need to make the demos lean and quick just like movie teasers. Only show enough to peak interest then when people forget about it and 6 months later at release they will say "O yeah that demo was interesting".

    Might help if developers had a team of guys who's job it is to make demos good at hooking people in. Is that too hard? Too bad. If you wanna have an edge against the competition you can find a way.

  • Lone WolfLone Wolf Registered User regular
    The problem is not the consumers, it's the developers. If the focused on making good game and making good demos of those games but instead the major game companies are run by marketeers who have no clue how to market things or make good games.

    The problems the games industry are facing are not the fault of the consumers they are the fault of the industry. People buying used games because games cost $60 and are often mediocre at best? Instead of selling short and mediocre game at lower prices and getting in the used games market which would enable them to make 3 times the money on a single disk they blow it way out of proportion and add online passes which makes getting used copies of the game harder to get which pushes people towards piracy. Piracy a problem? Instead of releasing demos and selling short and mediocre game at lower prices to kill the excuses the pirates use and giving away free DLC (not all or even most of the DLC has to be free, just enough) to people with legitimate copies of the games they blow the problem out of proportion and add a bunch of excessive DRM that only pushes more people towards piracy.

    That's was way off topic and I apologize.
    I don't remember a time when a demo ever made me less likely to buy a game except when the demo couldn't run on my computer. Demos have really only ever made me more likely to buy a game and have made me interested in game I never would have heard about otherwise.

  • BadfingerBadfinger Registered User
    I could definitely write a bunch of words here, but I'd say short and sweet should do the trick:

    Anything that makes consumers consume less is NOT the consumer's fault.

    In this case, the inability of game companies to create something that allows a very important hands-on that also increases sales in the long run is the fault of... the companies.

  • Scott_LaRoqScott_LaRoq Registered User
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  • Scott_LaRoqScott_LaRoq Registered User
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  • lawragatajarlawragatajar Registered User regular
    I still find demos very relevant today. There are a number of games that I only learned about because Steam had a demo available for them. If it wasn't for the demo, I would never have heard of these games, much less bought. The most notable example for me is Recettear. I would never have given this game a second look if I had not been able to try the demo. However, the demo made me want the game and start promoting it to my friends.

  • urknighterranturknighterrant Registered User regular
    As a PC gamer only I must concede that I only ever play a demo if I plan to buy, so it might SEEM that the devs have no incentive to give me one, but this isn't true. I will not EVER buy a game that I can't try out first because I don't want to buy a game and find out it won't run on my machine. Minimum and recommended system requirements are unreliable. Often certain hardware and/or software combinations can create unforeseen conflicts, and I've been able to get a lot of games running on my rig even though my video card isn't officially supported.

    Until recently this was the function of Demos. A function that has been replaced of late by running pirate copies before I buy.

    Personally I'd rather have a demo, but there's no way I'm plopping down hard earned money on a product I can't return if it doesn't work without testing it first.

  • MikoditeMikodite Registered User regular
    I'm curious about their opinions of 'trials'. You know, where you get the full game, but can only play to a certain point without paying, or for a certain amount of time? I know a lot of indy games use this, where you only pay if you want to keep playing. If you 'got your fill' well, ok then. If you think the game is crap, alright then.

    Course, to the 'get your fill' problem, the issue is really at 'where do you cut the experience'? Yeah, maybe there is no real point because the game isn't that engaging to begin with, and therefore it should crash and burn.

    Next, what of those games that might use the first so many moments to establish a norm in order to 'pull the rug out from us' for effect? This was why the Spec Opts demo was terrible. How would you demo such a thing? In this point, maybe some games just aren't demo-able, and therefore have to be marketed in other ways.

    To the "I've bought every game I've demoed (or at least it convinced me to buy something I wasn't interested in" camp, you are a minority. I've seen myself run from games early on thinking "this is a skinner box" or "this is bad." This is why there was no difference in push for good games that had a fitting demo: if you were already interested in the game you will play the demo. Seriously, who has played a demo for a game they weren't initially interested in? To download that sucker you would have to have some baseline interest in the first place or you are not going to bother.

    Yeah, yeah "publishers and developers should stop selling us crap with more crap glued to it." Doesn't change the fact that they still have to sell games to earn a living, and that even the good games don't get enough out of demos for it to be worth the time and energy of developers. Its a sales or marketing tactic that doesn't work, and that is why we are not seeing demos.

    To the "indies need demos!" camp, didn't someone post earlier that having a demo was better than having nothing? Yes this is true, but it also said that having a trailer was better than having a demo, and a demo would drag down the effectiveness of a demo. So maybe these indies might be better off filming themselves playing the game and uploading it to youtube.

    "But what of kickstarter?" Ok... there might be a need for a demo then. Last I checked the EC Indy Fund requires developers to show them a demo. However, a demo made for kickstarter or the ECIF isn't the same as a demo to sell the game. These demos are proof of seriousness, that the developer plans to produce the goods at the end. It isn't going to show you what the game will be like, as these demos tend to lack polish. Also, there have been game projects on kickstarter that have gotten their targets without demos, some without even design docs or concept art. Double-Fine got money out of kickstarter by merely saying they were going to make a game, in that there wasn't even a theme other than "adventure title". "Steampunk Feminists vs Zombies" got $18000 despite being just a picture and some words.

  • adhs11adhs11 Registered User new member
    just cuase 2... only game where the demo definatly made me buy it when i was certin that i wasn't going to

  • IanuariusIanuarius Registered User
    Just Cause 2 AND WarCraft 2. Definately made me buy the full game. And just 14 years apart! :D

  • DrovekDrovek Registered User regular
    I got both Analogue and To The Moon after the demo convinced me. Just Cause 2 I played until I noticed it actually ran well on my machine (this is why PC demos are important.) Kerbal Space Program is another, Quantum Conundrum too. Recently the Saint's Row 3 Free Weekend made me spring to get it (this is another nice alternative to demos.) Bastion's narrator was a big question for me, until I tried the demo and bought it.

    Last Remnant's demo almost completely turned me off from that game, but that's because the demo itself utterly sucked. I did get it much later for cheap.

    And then there's the whole "There's a console demo, but no PC demo for you!"

    I remember back in the day, the whole MP_Beach RTCW demo: that was the demo that basically made you not buy the game because it had everything you could possibly want. I spent hours on that thing. Then I bought the full game... and there were plenty of MP_Beach only servers. Weird community, like that.

  • HunterWulfHunterWulf Registered User new member
    I'm also pretty sure a game that has no demo at all (specially new IPs) will also suffer from huge lost sales ... all the people who don't put money into buying a game before trying it somehow won't buy a game like that unless it gets +90 reviews or words of praise from them majority of gaming sites and other players, and this lack of demo also might lead to increased piracy since people want to try the game and will do so by pirating it .. a percent of them will just settle with the pirated copy and never buy the game AT ALL .. while a small minority will actually go out and buy the game after trying the pirated copy.

    Also, demos are far from dead, the PSN store does have new demos every week and i'm sure the Xbox360 is the same .. the only platform that's really suffering from lack of demos in the PC .. still there are demos being released for some PC games from time to time.

  • the_grimthe_grim Registered User
    So essentially what you're saying in this episode is that for developers it's not worth it to make demos because then people wouldn't need to BUY your crap games to find out that they're crap. I don't think you properly accounted for the opposite: the positive effect of a demo for a less known, small game that is really, really good. Even in those cases where you acknowledge that a demo is great, you seem to assume that most people "get their fix" on the demo already and end up not buying the full game - but if a game is GOOD and the demo gives a taste of that goodness, I don't think that would really happen all too often. It hasn't for me.

    You ask "How many times have you played a demo that convinced you to buy a game?" That has happened to me many times with those less known but awesome titles I mentioned: for example Dark Messiah: Might and Magic, which I definitely wouldn't have bought (never heard of it) if it wasn't for the demo that surprised me and left me craving for more. Far Cry and Crysis were titles that I was going to buy anyway but playing the demo sealed the deal. I can't remember any titles that I was going to buy but changed my mind because of a bad demo.

    I think your logic is flawed when you discuss a demo's effect on sales: No, it's not a lost sale if a demo DOESN'T get you to make a purchase. You can't simply assume that anyone who downloads and plays a demo that turns out bad WOULD'VE BOUGHT THE GAME in case a demo wasn't available at all. Most probably, whenever a demo turns out bad, the game is a bit dodgy anyway and certainly not on everyone's "must buy" list if only it wasn't for the demo... The threshold for downloading a free piece of a game to pass the time is very low, and is NOT analogous to a purchase decision of the full thing.

    Let me refer to the above example of Dark Messiah: if the demo had been bad, I wouldn't have bought the game. If there was no demo in the first place, I wouldn't have bought the game either because it was not well-known, none of my friends played it, and it had mixed reviews. No "lost sale" here.

    I don't think you did a proper comparison to the effect of NOT having demos and what that does to sales. Of course that's infinitely harder to measure; you can't calculate "lost sales" based on what people decide not to buy all on their own... A demo is an opportunity for the developer to spark my interest in their game, whereas some game ad I haven't heard of - with no demo available - I will not give a second glance to.

    There's no telling as to the number of titles that I have not bought because there's no demo available. When you can't get a taste of the gameplay upon release, it's very easy to postpone buying the game and just think "I'll get it later off the bargain bin". But if there was a demo, and it was really good, I think it would be difficult for many people to stop playing there and wait six months for the bargain.

    I've read some mixed reviews of Dishonored; I won't buy it now (maybe off the bargain bin) but if there was a demo available I would try it. So in this case not having a demo is a (potential) lost sale for the developer.

  • FriedZombieFriedZombie Registered User regular
    Great, more reasons why I have to pirate a fucking game in the future to fully judge something. Sure reviewers influence my decisions, but even taping into some that have the similar tastes to me, are still not me as several games such as EDF or Rule of Rose, or hell even State of Emergency I've loved but have been critically panned as mediocre or bad games.

    More recent examples are games that reviewers say are good that just suck like for instance: Lone Survivor. I HATED THIS GAME, but I love the survival horror genre (I own all of the silent hills and Resident Evil games, ALL OF THEM even on the Wii) problem being is that maintaining your hunger is a core mechanic in the game that just infuriates me. I have to take care of myself in real life; having a guy who gets hungry every 2 minutes and starts hallucinating if he becomes very malnourished absolutely destroyed any atmosphere the game had for me. This game SHOULD of had a demo so I could of known about this beforehand, but it didn't. I COULD of torrented it, but I chose to pay $15 to support an indie developer who worked on this for 5 years and is a SH fanboy like myself.

    A mistake I won't make again regardless of the franchise; you don't provide a way to trial your game, you will either have no sale or at best be torrented.

  • BaarogueBaarogue Registered User regular
    With few exceptions, I always try before I buy. If there is no demo, I'm perfectly happy to arrr the game instead. This scenario has rarely led to a sale.

  • bentelkbentelk Registered User new member
    I have a question! back in ye olde days, I remember a few games that were trilogies, where the first was free, and the second two cost money. you also mentioned episodic games, where the first is free, and you pay for more. that doesn't sound _that_ different from a demo, but whatever: I think my question is: A. how do people ever afford to do this? wouldn't that be like giving away Mass Effect 1 for free? (what was the cost to make, say, a Commander Keen game back in the day, versus a modern game?) question B. apparently this is an affordable option for some games, even today! do you think this could have worked for Mass Effect, or could work for other, big games? or only certain types of games? or...?

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