Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Free Vs. Purchased Demos

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 25, 2010

Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment on Free vs. Purchased Demos:

“… Charging for the demo just seems very wrong. First of all, it means you are now demanding payment for your marketing. What’s next, making the customer pay for your ads? Also what happens when they don’t like your demo (which is going to happen fairly often)? The company got some amount of money, but the customer paid for something they didn’t enjoy. A lose-win situation.

“Personally I really dislike lose-win situations in business. I’m not in competition with our customers. We are in a mutually beneficial relationship, a loss for them is a loss for me.”

As I said a couple of weeks ago, bring it on, mainstream publishers! As a tiny indie who properly sees demos as both marketing and a tool to help ensure customer satisfaction (they know exactly what they are buying, so they shouldn’t have any bad surprises), I could use all the business you are going to be sending my way!

Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism, Mainstream Games - Comments: 7 Comments to Read

  • tfernando said,

    That’s timely. Yesterday I played the Din’s Curse demo (game was developed by Mr. Peeler) and bought the game (via RC). 🙂 I wouldn’t have paid for the demo, and the Fidgit review had been good but not enough to make me want to purchase outright. So he got at least one sale directly linkable to the demo.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Thanks from us both! 🙂

    That’s the thing – the indies are pretty much the next-gen shareware dudes, and as such we have come to recognize that the demo is our sales force, our chief marketing weapon, and our principle tool to generate sales. It’s ability to make us money is contingent upon us getting it in front of as many people as possible.

    I guess in the mainstream, they are used to the press serving that purpose. And maybe the demo tends to disappoint players in comparison to the hype generated by the press. I dunno. But they definitely have a different attitude towards demos. They seem to be viewing it as a SERVICE to players.

    That makes zero sense to me, but hey, I’m not in that part of the industry anymore.

  • Verious said,

    I don’t foresee myself ever paying for a demo.

  • getter77 said,

    Paying to get into early Alpha/Beta testing is as far as I’ve gone and can imagine going. Nothing stopping them from going such a route moreso on PC offerings, providing they are on the up and up about it, but in the console/handheld space? Forget it.

    They are just after as much cash ASAP, even if short-sighted small handfuls, to recoup the bloat/pay the top 1% of the company and then let the chips fall where they may on all other fronts—the customer being little more than a barely sentient, semi-mobile money tree.

  • MalcolmM said,

    I won’t pay for a demo, that’s a crazy concept to me. Maybe publishers are dreaming of the days when people use to pay extra for demo disks with PC gaming magazines. Those days are long gone.

  • Ottomobiehl said,

    I would never pay for a demo.

    Call me an old fogey but I remember when you could get most of the game for free (minus a BFG or so) and if you dug the game you could buy the full version and/or buy the extra episodes.

    I’d kind of like to go back to those days.

  • Elwro said,

    I think in the mainstream the change will be gradual. Some people are already paying for small pieces of DLC after having paid for the main title. In time the main game will get smaller and DLC will get bigger. In time companies will e.g. be releasing the first campaign of their new RTS as a paid demo and the rest as DLC (or separate boxes, no big difference). (Yeah, of course the situation with Starcraft is different because the other campaigns won’t become available simultaneously with the first one.)