Demos are Harmful to Game Sales, Says Analyst - News

By Matt Ashbaugh, February 12, 2013
1,513 Views

Respected analyst and Puzzle Clubhouse CEO, Jesse Schell, gave a presentation at DICE 2013 about different strategies developers and publishers should use to get customers to want to try their product.  During this presentation, he explained how giving people a demo is not very wise.

Don't believe him?  Just look at his graph.

giraffe

No.  His graph.

Schell Dice 2013 graph

There we go

According to his data, the worst selling games have no demo and no trailer.  Sales increase when there is a demo and increase again when there is a trailer.  This all makes sense until he shows that sales double when a game has only a trailer.  This goes against all of our expectations.  As Schell stated, "You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half? Yes that is exactly what happened to you."

He explains that while a trailer is an excellent way to tease gamers and get them interested in buying your game, a demo often does the opposite.  "The things with no demo, you've gotta buy it if you want to try it." He reasons that not everybody who tries a game will then have the desire to buy that same game.  That the demo itself satisfies our curiosity and destroys hype.

In a cold logical business sense, he is right.  It is only natural for gamers (all customers really) to favor the "try before you buy" model.  It is a no risk way for us to make an informed decision about the product we are looking to purchase.  If publishers take his presentation to heart, we could be entering an age that is entirely demo-less.

Now before you believe him to now be the worst person ever, he did go on to explain why microtransactions are a bad business model as well.  He explained that the reason gamers love Skyrim is because they get to explore a vast world and whatever rewards they win are the result of how well they play the game.  Being able to simply buy your rewards are (as in Diablo 3) ... less rewarding.

To further drive his point forward he showed, of all things, old tickets to DisneyLand.

old disneyland ticket

See, originally one would buy a ticket per attraction.  If you wanted to ride five rides, each person in your group would have to have five tickets.  Basically DisneyLand originally ran on the concept of microtransaction.  One day someone decided to try selling a more expensive single ticket that allowed unlimited access to the park.  

disneyland dice 2013 graph

Sales went up ... a lot.

So, a very sweet and sour presentation for gamers which you can watch in full here:

So what do you think?  Are demos really bad for business?  Do you appreciate having another way to explain why microtransactions are unpleasant?  Let us know down in the comments.

Related Articles