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Are You Willing To Pay For Game Demos?

by Sean P. Aune | April 19, 2010April 19, 2010 1:19 pm PDT

Have you ever downloaded a video game demo?  Of course you have.  With the number of video games coming out these days, and considering the rising costs, how can you not download a sample when available to see if you like the graphics, gameplay, voice acting or any other number of possible factors.  The question that is starting to arise though is, are you willing to pay for them?

It was first reported back in late March that Electronic Arts was pondering charging $10 to $15 for game demos.  The company has since squashed that rumor, but it seems that at least one other company thought it was an intriguing concept. Crytek co-founder Cevat Yerli told Develop that he wasn’t sure a demo for Crysis 2 would be made available because it was cost prohibitive.  He went on to explain,“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.”

crysis 2Speaking to Big Download, Mr. Yerli expanded his thoughts somewhat: “I understand why people are thinking that all EA wants to do is maximise profits out of the audience, but really, what it’s really trying to do is get investment back but while being as fair to the gamer as much as it can. Ultimately, it will be a better deal for the game.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of paying for a game demo is about the last thing I would ever be willing to do.  If the discussed price point of $10 to $15 becomes the reality, it would be cheaper to go and rent the game for a week from most stores, play the entire game, and then where is the resulting sale the company might have experienced from someone enjoying the demo?  Perhaps $1 or $2 wouldn’t be out of the question, but I would even balk at that.

Essentially this theory boils down to you would pay for one or two sample levels of a game, you would then go out and buy the game, which would include those same levels, and you get to pay twice for those levels.  This also increases the overall cost of the game from the $60 we are seeing now to $70 or $75.  I’m sorry, but that just isn’t acceptable.

There are only two ways I can even see this remotely working.  The first is if they insist on charging us for demos, you give us a credit for what we spent on the demo off of the price of the game: You charge me $10 for a demo, I get $10 off the published game if I buy it within a certain launch window.  The second would be some sort of exclusive content.  I know I have spoken out against pre-order game bonuses, but this is a slightly different scenario in that it isn’t exclusive to one retailer, and I’m talking something like a bonus outfit for a character, nothing major.

No matter how you slice it, a game demo is not something we should be paying for.  A demo is supposed to entice us to purchase the complete game, not be a revenue stream in and of itself.

What say you?  Would you be willing to pay for game demos.  Is there any circumstance where you see this as a good idea?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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