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Demos Don't Hurt Sales, Bad Games Do

  • Written by Dave Walsh

In a way, it is difficult for me to look at the recent talk from Jesse Schell without extracting his small diatribe about how publishers should avoid demos and instead focus their time, energy and money on putting out great marketing materials and trailers instead. His ideal model in this proposed environment revolves around publishers forgoing the gaming standard of producing a playable demo and instead to force consumers to purchase the game to figure out if they like it or not. 

Doesn't that just seem wrong?

If I want to purchase a new book, I can preview it before I buy it. At the bookstore there are chairs and tables everywhere that allow me to sit down and read as much of that book as I want before I decide if I'm going to buy it. You can preview most books on Amazon or other online retailers as well and the truth is, it should be that way. Most CD stores have listening stations and every online retailer has some form of preview for the music that you are about to buy, it should be that way. Why should games be different?

Games are actually more of an investment than a book or a CD are, as the average game costs $60. For $60 I can get four paperback books or six full albums on iTunes and I can preview all of it!

Mr. Schell did have a compelling chart that he showed off, but a part of me has to believe that simply making better games that consumers will actually like should trump marketing a shoddy product. Most publishers are in the business for the long haul and are looking to build a bond and gain repeat customers, aren't they? Then why this whole art of deception and giving the least-common-denominator of a game with a lot of marketing hype?

I fully understand what he is saying from a business point of view, but feel like his information should be viewed as an educational tool for releasing better games as opposed to trying to obscure a game's problems by not allowing the consumer to preview it.

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