Apparently that’s the concept going on in some game development company heads, including the massively huge gaming giant EA. Reported recently at Develop-Online.net, independent studio Crytek’s CEO Cevat Yerli sided with the company’s decision to start moving towards paid downloadable demo content instead of the currently acting “free” model.
To address some excerpts from the conversation…
Yerli said: “A free demo is a luxury we have in the game industry that we don’t have in other industries such as film. Because we’ve had this free luxury for so long, now there are plans to change this people are complaining about it. The reality is that we might not see any free game demos in the long term.” He also said “I think EA’s strategy is interesting, overall. The thing is, every time we see a publisher doing something to improve the industry, making things more commercially viable and actually increasing the market, people instantly think this is only some money-hungry ploy.”
Well, of course we do because something that’s been available across all media industries (from demo music tapes, to video teasers and trailers, to game demos, and so on, where’s this guy been?) is now going away and we’re being told we’ll have to pay for a demo version of a game that we are supposed to end up wanting to spend more on to purchase (unless the demo price applies towards the purchase of the game). I found it interesting that he says it as if games are the only industry that’s done demos as if other industries didn’t exist at all. I mean, I understand needing to save money, maybe you can’t afford to give out a free demo, but you certainly don’t start charging your users for something that’s always been free and entices them to buy the final product.
Yerli continued saying “Yes it is quite unpopular, but this is a messaging issue. The problem with any new strategy like this is it initially may appear as a blood-hungry, money-grabbing strategy. But I think there is a genuine interest here to give gamers something more than a small demo released for free.” and “Really, what this is, is an attempt to salvage a problem. The industry is still losing a lot of money to piracy as the market becomes more online-based. So it’s encouraging to see strategies outlined to combat this.”.
This is where he does have a point in two ways… If they did charge for demos (which I seriously hope does not start happening), the demos should be much more developed and full experiences in the game instead of just 5 – 20 minutes of teasing. Users should get a full experience that can be enjoyed for as long as they want. Let them limit the game but there should be no time limits for sure.
Secondly, piracy is an issue and we all know it. Despite it’s clearly illegal nature, it does run rampant in the gaming community and we all know a least one or two people who are downloading and burning their games. Well, just imagine that everyone you ever see online (well maybe not everybody), but a lot of them are the same way, it all adds up, to a lot.
The guys making these games deserve to make money for giving us the enjoyment we get for hours on end, and believe me, being an Information Technology guy myself, I know the kinda stuff those guys have to go through every day and I give them all the credit for it, I dunno how those code monkeys do it but they do, and do it well. If less people pirated (or none…yeah like that’s gonna happen..) then situations like this would be far less likely to occur…or at least in a perfect world where a company wouldn’t get greedy and use the extra money in ways to not benefit the gamers….. but that’s a whole other story…
Bottom line is, they do have some points in their reasoning to do this, and they are right that we’ve enjoyed these demos for free as a luxury because let’s face it, they don’t have to do it. They can do whatever they like and they should, it’s their company and their product. But just from a gamers perspective with some business experience mixed in, I think it would end up doing far more damage than good by taking away the free demos available to people like they are now. So many demos were the sole reason I ended up checking out a game or else I would walk right past it in the game store. Funny enough, game demos are the main reason why I go back through so many games I never played. I think to myself… “Eh, it’s free anyway, lemme check it out”, and you know what? If it’s good, I……BUY IT! Amazing eh? Yeah, it happens if you make a good game, so do the right thing and you’ll be rewarded!
If I was to think about how many gamers, both young and old, who don’t have enough money to buy a new game any time they come out, relying on demos to get a taste of games they’ll need to save for a month or two just to buy….and now you wanna charge em for demos? This really isn’t going to end as well as game companies may be thinking…
I don’t know if they have noticed this yet, but gamers tend to be full of pride in the products they support, and also in the products they don’t support, and why shouldn’t they? It’s their hard earned money they’re handing over to these companies and all it’s going to take is one bad experience with a demo they paid for and the word will spread, and it’ll spread fast. Of course in the end it’s going to be up to the game companies to decide which way they’ll go on this, but I have a feeling we’ll be enjoying free demos for far longer from the more open thinking companies out there with less to worry about than the heavy hitters like EA apparently has to.
So what do you guys think about this one? Good idea? Bad idea?
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