Demos and their Purpose

artoni

Writer, Editor
Veteran
Joined
Jan 18, 2014
Messages
115
Reaction score
162
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Hi all-

As the month ends I'm finalizing my game demo, and I'm looking at I want to accomplish with it. Ultimately I think I've done so to the point where I'm quite content.

My question to you is, for those of you who are working on/have already released demos- what did you want to accomplish with them? Was their purpose solely to advertise, or did you want to test some sort of mechanic or another?

For those of you who play demos- what do you expect in them? How long do you expect them to be?

For all- any other thoughts on them? :)
 

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Moderator
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
1,988
Reaction score
3,436
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Honestly my demo was for 2 reasons:
1) Test my mechanics (since I've coded my own battle system, quest system, ability system, etc.) and see if they work and are intuitive. So basically feedback
2) Advertising.

I would say that reason 1 is more important than reason 2 for me.
 

Biestmann

Studio Biest
Veteran
Joined
May 18, 2015
Messages
391
Reaction score
631
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Receiving feedback for what you are building is invaluable, and the primary reason I release demos. It's not just the feedback itself either, but you'll come to know that people playing your game is a great feeling that will keep you motivated.

Good luck with your demo release!
 

Wavelength

Pre-Merge Boot
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
4,606
Reaction score
3,854
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I've never released a demo myself (since most of my games are pretty short, it makes more sense to just release the whole thing at once), but I think that the point of a demo is to get people intrigued/excited about your game by showing off whatever its "wow" factor is. I've expanded on this notion a few times in the past, most recently here.
 

Kes

Global Moderators
Global Mod
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
21,453
Reaction score
10,857
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
All my games have demos, but they are not released before the game. Instead they give roughly the first 1.5 hours of the game so that people can decide if they want to buy the full game or not. Their purpose, therefore, is to showcase the actual game and (hopefully) get people hooked enough to buy it. This doesn't quite fit in with your 'advertise the game' option, as that sort of demo is often released long before the full game is ready.
 

bgillisp

Global Moderators
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
12,506
Reaction score
12,809
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I think it depends. When I released my demo it was to get feedback on the game and learn what did and didn't work. I knew though that release was so far off in the future that it would not work well for advertising. But when the game is closer to release I plan to post the Chapter 1 demo up again and use it so people can play it and decide if they like the game or not before purchase.
 

TheoAllen

Self-proclaimed jack of all trades
Veteran
Joined
Mar 16, 2012
Messages
4,644
Reaction score
5,282
First Language
Indonesian
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
My last complete game has 5 stages of the dungeon. And the demo was only covered one stage. It was not really public, more like closed beta. Only people in my community played the game. Feedbacks from one stage of the dungeon was good enough to know what is working and what is not working. The later release, however, not progressively cover one more stage on the release, but I released all the stages at once. So the flow was like a demo (one stage), then the full game (five stages).
 

Wavelength

Pre-Merge Boot
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
4,606
Reaction score
3,854
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
All my games have demos, but they are not released before the game. Instead they give roughly the first 1.5 hours of the game so that people can decide if they want to buy the full game or not. Their purpose, therefore, is to showcase the actual game and (hopefully) get people hooked enough to buy it. This doesn't quite fit in with your 'advertise the game' option, as that sort of demo is often released long before the full game is ready.
I'd actually be very curious to know how this has worked out for you, especially if you have any kind of hard data or baseline to compare it against.

Common wisdom is often that this kind of demo might dissuade some of the people who would have otherwise bought your game from purchasing it (not necessarily because they dislike it, but because they decide their curiosity/appetite has now been sated), although I can see the other side of the argument being that the free demo might entice some people on the fence who wouldn't have otherwise bought your game to try it out, and if they really like what they see, maybe that's a converted purchase that the demo earned you.

Any thoughts on this, @Kes? Any experimenting done, or perhaps feedback from your players or publishers? Would really appreciate hearing them!
 

gstv87

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2015
Messages
1,893
Reaction score
893
First Language
Spanish
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
For those of you who play demos- what do you expect in them? How long do you expect them to be?
demos should be a functioning version of the very basic operational structure of your game, with minimal content.
from there, up... if you want to give out more content to spring an interest, go ahead, but not before having the operational structure functional.
what you shouldn't do, is release a "demo" that is 80% operational, with a lot of content, and disguise the design flaws as "oh, it's a demo".
no... that's just lazy development.

if it doesn't do what it's intended to do, don't release it.... even if it looks like it's supposed to in the final design.
if it does do what it's intended to do, but people discover it can do more, don't change it..... announce a sequel, and make a new project.

*THAT* is game design 101, and *THAT* is what makes most of the AAA titles fail: lazy engineering and rushed releases.
 

Kes

Global Moderators
Global Mod
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
21,453
Reaction score
10,857
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
@Wavelength I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that people have tried the demos and then bought the game (players' comments to that effect). However, it is very difficult (impossible?) to know if there have others who might have bought a game, tried the demo and then didn't. I don't recall anyone posting to that effect, and just comparing the number of downloads of the demo against the number of units sold doesn't reveal any useful data. What the numbers do show is that the proportion of demos to units sold has steadily reduced - I assume because players have grown to trust that what I produce will be something that they will enjoy, be of good quality etc., and so don't feel the need to try it out first.

I end the demo at a cliff-hanger moment which hopefully reduces the number whose curiosity has been sated.

It's also relevant to note that I do not put my games straight onto Steam, as I sell big numbers on the Aldorlea site (I appeal to that particular audience a lot), therefore the player does not have the option of claiming a refund if they don't like the game. A free demo of that length seems a just alternative to a refund to me.
 

Wavelength

Pre-Merge Boot
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
4,606
Reaction score
3,854
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
@Wavelength I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that people have tried the demos and then bought the game (players' comments to that effect). However, it is very difficult (impossible?) to know if there have others who might have bought a game, tried the demo and then didn't. I don't recall anyone posting to that effect, and just comparing the number of downloads of the demo against the number of units sold doesn't reveal any useful data. What the numbers do show is that the proportion of demos to units sold has steadily reduced - I assume because players have grown to trust that what I produce will be something that they will enjoy, be of good quality etc., and so don't feel the need to try it out first.

I end the demo at a cliff-hanger moment which hopefully reduces the number whose curiosity has been sated.

It's also relevant to note that I do not put my games straight onto Steam, as I sell big numbers on the Aldorlea site (I appeal to that particular audience a lot), therefore the player does not have the option of claiming a refund if they don't like the game. A free demo of that length seems a just alternative to a refund to me.
That's great info, thank you very much!! I'd agree that it's very difficult to tell what the number of "lost sales" based on the demo is, but it sounds like the system has worked well for you on the whole.

The Demos : Sales ratio becoming lower over time could partially be an effect of loyal fans who decide they don't need the demo as you surmise, although I'd only assume this if both numbers are becoming lower (with demo downloads dropping more than sales). One other explanation, if Sales are increasing (and Demo downloads are staying approximately steady), is that your conversion rate is increasing as prospective buyers sense better quality from your demos.

Agreed about the demo feeling more fair in light of not having the option to refund games.

Once again, thanks!
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 2)

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts

Is it wrong to look like a dead fish at all times :)
What worst could happen when your driver said "I know a shortcut"?
Creating Telekinesis script for another user, couldn't resist doing a scripted scene to display progress, when I could have just shown it in seconds XD
My city has enacted some measures to lock down the city from the plague for the first time in China and it has been reported even on some international news. :kaomad2: I'd never imagined my little city would be paid attention to in such a way.

Forum statistics

Threads
93,629
Messages
914,108
Members
123,207
Latest member
Journey_Sticks
Top