A recent claim by an industry analyst says that releasing a demo actually decreases the sales for a game, Luke Karmali for IGN writes on Feb. 11.
Puzzle Clubhouse CEO and industry analyst Jesse Schell said, with the aid of a graph, that releasing a demo for a game can actually manage to cut sales for a game in half. He said this at a recent presentation at DICE 2013.
He used Xbox 360 game sales as an example. He showed that the best-selling games “were those that built expectations in players, but then gave them no way to try it out short of buying a copy.” In terms of the companies, he told them: “You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half? Yes, that’s exactly what happened to you."
Schell explained that the best way to increase sales of your game was to tease the audience with trailers, not by giving them a shorter version to play and thus save money on. "The thing is, with no demo, you’ve gotta buy it if you want to try it,” he said.
“It's an interesting thought. While the notion of trying-before-you-buy is a comforting one for gamers, I'm sure we can all think of at least a couple of occasions we've been underwhelmed by a demo. It's curious to think what this effect means for games with demos bundled in them,” Karmali says, referencing the “God of War: Ascension” bundle that will include the first playable demo of the long-awaited “Last of Us.” Another recent example is that the new "Tomb Raider" reboot will not have a pre-release demo.
On the other hand, this robs players of the chance to try out a game before buying it. It’s not like a film where you spend $10. Games cost about $60 upon release, and don’t decrease in price very quickly. As such, you may very well put down $60 on a game that you play once and realize you don’t like it. In that case, you’ve just wasted $60.
For more information, check out Luke Karmali’s article on IGN.