It's Time for PC Game Demos to Make a Comeback

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, May 20, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,004
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    While the majority of publishers and developers no longer care about demos, this author believes they are still relevant and points out a potentially viable alternative from the folks behind Prison Architect, who designed their mobile version of the game so it is free to play up to a certain point: gamers who like it may simply pay the full price to get access to the rest of the content. This would be a practical way for anyone to test a title out, and the writer suggests that publishers wouldn’t lose anything from those who decline to pay. Unfortunately, this would mean that companies would get absolutely no money from me, since I have a short attention span and barely bother beyond the first level of a game. What’s wrong with Steam refunds, anyway?

    For publishers and developers, demos put a game in front of more players on launch day, provides them with additional information on how their game is being played and received, and can increase interest in their games even if not everyone who tries them, buys them. They can even get more technical feedback if their game is having problems on launch day. For players, they're given a chance to sample more new games, to properly try before they buy, and less incentive to abuse Steam's refund policy or wait months for a sale. PC demos are good for everyone, and it's time for them to make a comeback.
     
  2. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,957
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    The big AAA companies have plenty of rea$on$ to not release demos. Demos work great for a small game house that hasn't put millions of dollars into the development and marketing of a game. They don't have anything to loose. Smaller houses doesn't need to sell millions of copies to turn a profit. Producing AAA games these days is very much like producing hollywoo movies... they recover their costs up front on sales in the first few weeks. Unless they know they have a winner they don't let anyone see nothing till they got the $ in hand. No developer who has spent millions on a title wants bad reviews or word of mouth to tank their launch window.
     
  3. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,275
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    They can't and won't do this because most of the games they come out with suck and need 4gb release day patches.
     
    AK0tA, mbelue, viscountalpha and 11 others like this.
  4. scojer

    scojer 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,913
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    I play demos all the time on my PS4. I then decide if I want to buy the game or pass. I can't stand "Let's play!" videos, which is what quite a few people have turned to.

    I remember when I used to play demos on PC for the same reason.

    I hope that the demo market will come back to the PC, as much as it used to be.
     
  5. Krenum

    Krenum [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    15,411
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Truth! Once they whine and dine you & have your money, they could care less if you like the game or not.
     
  6. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,445
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    We don't need demos. We just need major distributors like Steam to allow for "remorse refunds".

    We have that kind of consumer protection for used cars here in Texas, and it frankly is the only thing that put an end to many of the deceptive practices used by dealers to push vehicles with serious problems on customers, by giving them a 3-day window to return the vehicle for a full refund. Now, to avoid that expense, their repairs now go from stopping an oil leak with a piece of duck-tape to at least ensuring it can drive a few hundred miles before a customer notices, and they have toned down their hyper-aggressive sales tactics knowing that if the customer changes their mind at home when discussing it with the wife, that they'll get the car back and will have wasted their time.

    I'd say for video games on Steam, to make it fair make it 30 mins of gameplay.

    That way if its not installing right on your PC, there are serious bugs encountered early on, or the game was just completely misrepresented by marketing, that's enough time to get a feel for the game without being long enough to have played through.
     
  7. ir0nw0lf

    ir0nw0lf [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    6,289
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    Wow, all you folks who think we shouldn't have demos anymore need to hit Youtube and watch Jim Sterlings recent video about Prey and the demo concept. Great video and Jim makes a lot of great points. Probably won't alter the opinion of some of you, no biggie.
     
    ChoGGi and MavericK like this.
  8. GMcDougal

    GMcDougal Gawd

    Messages:
    924
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    I miss demos. I miss the old days of pc gaming. I used to love trying out the demos and if it was good, i would generally buy the game. I rarely purchase games these days because i hate to take a risk without trying it? Sure, i could read reviews (and i do) but its still not the same. I say bring them back!
     
    mbelue and mynamehere like this.
  9. Snowdog

    Snowdog [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    8,833
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    renz496 likes this.
  10. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,445
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    They probably do, but that's why I recommend the easy-refund route instead.

    People can purchase games flippantly, feeling that the investment is risk free, because if they don't like it, they can return it easily. If the game is good, they will keep it, and you're likely to hit a wider userbase. If the game is OK, people are still likely to keep it, because they already made the purchase and took the time to install the game and the default least effort action is to do nothing. Only if the game is truly horrible will they bother to refund.

    So the no-risk digital purchase method is IMO the best for everyone. Increased sales, and promoting reasonable marketing with good first-day launches because those first 30 mins will make the difference in whether or not the customer is happy, and thus not getting a refund.
     
  11. Jim Kim

    Jim Kim 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,416
    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Steam has a 2 hours of gameplay and 2 week refund window.
     
    CacaSapo and Ducman69 like this.
  12. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,445
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Well, there ya go, voila! Wasn't even aware.
     
  13. Master_shake_

    Master_shake_ [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    8,678
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2012
    demos are a terrible idea from a business standpoint.

    how else are we going to get shit AAA games like batman arkham knight, or any assassins' creed title?

    if no mans sky had a demo no one would have bought it. do you want that?

    why do you guys hate game developers?
     
  14. Master_shake_

    Master_shake_ [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    8,678
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2012
    and abusing the return system will get you banned.

    great.
     
    renz496 likes this.
  15. rgMekanic

    rgMekanic [H]ard|News Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,776
    Joined:
    May 13, 2013
    Been saying for years that demos would put an end to quite a bit of piracy, a helluva lot more than DRM does.

    I'll be frank, a few years ago I started downloading a LOT more games... why? Because after spending hundreds of dollars I don't have on absolute broken trash games, I decided I need to try shit before it gets my money.

    And IMO it's even more important for PC to have demo's vs. console, since it would eliminate the "can my PC run ____" threads, and give people an answer on if their HW is up to the task of new releases.

    As long as Devs don't try to crap out completely broken piles of shit, there is no downside whatsoever from having a demo.
     
    mbelue likes this.
  16. grtitan

    grtitan Telemetry is Spying on ME!

    Messages:
    1,266
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Funny, I was thinking about how I miss the shareware days.

    But there can only be one Doom.
     
    mbelue likes this.
  17. Skillz

    Skillz [H]ard DCOTY 2017

    Messages:
    21,750
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Demos?

    Why demo a game when you can play the whole version for free? Steam has free-to-play weekends on a lot of titles. We need more of those! Screw demos!
     
  18. travbrad

    travbrad [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,253
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Yep I know back when most games did have demos it was a great way to filter out all the bad games from a potential purchase. I still do that now by just avoiding most new games/pre-orders (unless I absolutely know I will like it) and waiting for gameplay videos/streams and reviews. There are a huge number of gamers who just constantly buy stuff sight unseen (unless you count "cinematic" trailers) though and that's where the money is. The last thing most of them want is a more informed consumer.
     
  19. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    15,112
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    I'd probably buy 100% more games if they had demos. I remember playing the Diablo demo half a year prior to release on a 486. Upgraded just so I could actually play it in greater than 5fps. They do such a good job of building up suspension.
     
  20. Etherton

    Etherton Will Bang for Poof

    Messages:
    6,880
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    Nonsense, just make sure the demo is AAA :p
     
  21. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,957
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Agree completely. I gave up on AAA games a long time ago. Far to much crap. Same reason I only bother going to the theater a couple times a year anymore. To many big budget crap pieces. I don't expect to get demos of AAA games anymore then I expect the movie theater to refund my money if I walk out half way through a crappy big budget movie.

    I have turned into a Steam sale purchaser... by the time games get nice 50%+ off sales the quality of the game is well known. As a added bonus I have discovered a ton of great indie / small house games that turns out are often much more engaging and enjoyable.
     
    jtm55 and grtitan like this.
  22. DF-1

    DF-1 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,549
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2011
    I tried 2 demos in my life and bought the games. (crysis, UT3). haven't seen a demo since.

    would like a demo of prey,nier,the surge atm.
     
  23. Nolan7689

    Nolan7689 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,308
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    If the port runs acceptably I can tell you right now that Nier is one of the best stories in gaming you can experience. But l will also tell you that most of the gameplay is average and plenty of it is straight up tedious for the sake of tedium. It takes some will power to get the true ending (100% side quest completion) but if it hasn't been spoiled for you, I guarantee the ending isn't something you've seen before.

    As for demos, well it fucking worked for Gunpoint. People told that guy to not release a demo because it was lost sales. He released one anyway and it became a runaway indie hit. He fucking quit his day job because it sold that well. I bought it off of the demo.
     
  24. Whach

    Whach [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,030
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2011
    God I miss ripping and playing a demo disc from a magazine before reading it. Then playing the demo over and over again before getting the real thing.
     
    Nolan7689 likes this.
  25. Nolan7689

    Nolan7689 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,308
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    No edit, wanted to add to that first paragraph that the characters are very real and well written and that the music is downright fantastic. If you've played Automata, you know what to expect for music more or less.
     
  26. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    15,112
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    I remember the ut2004 demo, I've never seen a more played demo on multiplayer in my life and the Q2 demo was also heavily played.
     
  27. sir-gold

    sir-gold Gawd

    Messages:
    931
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    When I was younger we didn't have money for games, and nobody had yet told me about the secret password "warez" that would open the door to free games (this was back when just searching for the word 'warez' would get you real software and not viruses)

    A lot of BBSs had a download section full of game demos. I remember spending many weeks playing and replaying the demos of Jazz Jackrabbit, Jill of the Jungle, and Commander Keen.
     
  28. renz496

    renz496 Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    232
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2013
    well problem is publisher want to sell us their triple A turd. demo will let us know the truth......
     
  29. MrTryfe

    MrTryfe Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    435
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    PC Gamer demo CDs :(:(
     
    John721 likes this.
  30. renz496

    renz496 Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    232
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2013
    that's fine but Valve already told that don't treat the refund system as a mean to try out games. if they detect you do it too often they will assume you to abuse the system and eventually stop processing your refund request.
     
  31. Jim Kim

    Jim Kim 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,416
    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Tell the Prey devs, not me.
    https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/05/04/prey-why-no-pc-demo/
    And besides, PC has Steam. Steam players can just return the game [prior to playing] 2 hours so it’s like a demo already.
     
  32. Master_shake_

    Master_shake_ [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    8,678
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2012
    oh i know what they said.

    and if i were steam i would kick them off my service for suggesting it.
     
  33. Denpepe

    Denpepe [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,055
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2015
    getting a 30 min or more demo on a 5 or 6 hour game where they do their best to get the best bits in the demo and fill tthe rest with generic stuff is not realy worth their time and even less ours.
     
  34. Ranulfo

    Ranulfo [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,468
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Most "open betas" these days are just demos. The Division and the new Ghost Recon betas sold me on those games, the DoW3 beta led me to not buy that game.
     
  35. CacaSapo

    CacaSapo Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    398
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Demos are now called "cracked". These days I do some reading and look for youtube gameplay footage, but if I'm really unsure I just grab a cracked copy. If I like it, I buy it.
     
  36. N4CR

    N4CR 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,718
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Found an OG PS2 demo cd and a PSX mag demo cd the other day, memories... Bought a few games because of that. Also played the shit out of the doom '16 demo and bought that, loved being able to try it before buying to see if the rig could handle it.
     
  37. Teenyman45

    Teenyman45 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,273
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    That plus even the demo might need 20-50GB for the install.
     
  38. DPI

    DPI Nitpick Police

    Messages:
    10,956
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2013
    Pirates often claim this - "if I like it I'll buy it". But after you've gone through the trouble of downloading a 30GB, 40GB or 50GB+ game, have it working and are probably several hours into it, what is really compelling you to then "buy it", re-download and re-install the entire thing?

    That claim is bullshit. Maybe not in your case, but in many or most - especially with game sizes these days.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
    Denpepe and Jim Kim like this.
  39. fuzzylogik

    fuzzylogik Gawd

    Messages:
    627
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Ah, shareware, how I miss thee. Before demo cds included in gaming mags, it was a download from a bbs site. Or, even better, stopping by the little shareware store and snagging a physical copy on a floppy for 50 cents or a dollar (a lot easier lol). I guess, back then game developers actually wanted to make something fun and used an "episode" to hook you ( which was usually limited in some other way, but you still got a full experience). If you couldn't afford it, you got to play the heck out of it. If you didn't like it, no big deal, on to the next. More often than not though... A couple mowed lawns or gutters cleaned and the game was yours :)
     
  40. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    8,677
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2003
    They have them, it's called the beta.

    It's not like a beta released two weeks before the game launch is going to change much of the game anyways.

    The industry has retrained the consumer on these words.


    Old | New
    Alpha = Beta
    Beta = Release Candidate / Release
    Demo = Beta

    You save so much time and money by outsourcing quality control to the consumer. Let them find the bugs for you and pretend to care by deploying a "Community Manager" who's +60 Charisma and +40 Slippery.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
    N4CR and Ranulfo like this.