Death Of The Demo: $5 Game Rentals

By Alec Meer on January 26th, 2011 at 7:42 pm.

Boris Johnson, presenting expensive demos of an easily-obtained item. Just buy a bloody bike, lazies.

“Why no demo?” is a regular plea around these parts, all manner of game-makers both independent and mainstream apparently believing that trailers and press releases are all that’s required to imbue a gamer with a sense of what their creation is like. Demos are on the decline, blighted by the twin forces of requiring extra dev manhours and fears that people may be so sated by their contents that they have no need of the full product. I think that’s poppycock, but unfortunately the games industry doesn’t listen to me.

What if there was another way to assess whether a PC game made your brain sing? Direct2Drive are experimenting, with a rental-via-download system. Pay to play before you pay, if you will.

That the current roster of supported titles is, frankly, pitiful does little to sell the service, but let’s try and see past the ludicrous concept of paying $5 for five hours’ access to Silent Hill: Homecoming, Grid, FEAR and Divinity 2 and to the essential idea underneath.

It’s okay, right? $5 is maybe just high enough to feel off-putting as a trial fee ($2.99 seems more comfortable), but it’s in the right ballpark. If they could offer this with more contemporary titles, it’s a neat way of getting around demo-lack. One thing I do like is that your initial $5 will go towards the full price if you decide to pay for the whole shebang, though of course you’re then locked into whatever fee D2D have elected, which could get exceptionally messy. What if it’s still cheaper to grab it from somewhere else?

Conceptually though, it’s interesting. Data is data, download speeds are ever increasing, and pretending a game is locked in some inaccessible vault only opened by the magic number $40 is increasingly absurd.

OnLive is, theoretically speaking, doing a similar thing, though in a sense more appealingly by insta-streaming rather than requiring a full download, but frankly I prefer this system if it expands. I want the game, not a remotely-served, interactive video of the game.

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108 Comments »

  1. Duffin says:

    Boris must never again appear on the front page of this website. Ever.

    • Urael says:

      Seconded. Bloody Bo-Jo, of all people. Nearly made me choke on my chips.

    • Pridit says:

      Blasted Boris Bikes!

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Hey, they’re actually pretty good…

    • squareking says:

      Not even this Boris?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_(band)

      :(

    • bascule42 says:

      I like Boris…he’s a good egg.

    • Dozer says:

      What ho, peasants!

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Isn’t that basically the same idea as the Velib bikes in Paris? What’s wrong with that?

    • Windward says:

      Somebody Still Loves You Boris Johnson

    • Inarborat says:

      @ squareking

      Definitely not. That band peaked about 8 years ago.

    • dethtoll says:

      squareking gets my love and firstborns for linking to such an amazing band

    • skinlo says:

      I hate anyone who doesn’t like Boris.

    • Ovno says:

      I like the idea of the bikes and they certainly work well in touristy areas, but I can’t help but think it will lead to hoards of confused tourists getting killed trying to ride their bikes arround the busiest city in europe…

      And Boris is funny, its just a pity hes not a comedian ;p

    • Ezhar says:

      The signup process pretty much prevents tourists from using yonder bicycles. And Boris sure does have the perfect haircut for a comedian.

    • fatchap says:

      You can now get them on a “casual” basis just with a credit or debit card.

      It is a bit like crack, frightfully moorish. I started as a casual renter and now have my own Boris key and ride twice a day as part of my commute.

  2. pakoito says:

    I would play 24 real time hours for 2.50 that is what I have always payed for physical rentals.

    12h straight is what most games last now so why bother spending 70 console bucks in a game not an afternoon long?

    • kristian says:

      So you’d pay 2.50usd to play 1,5 first hours of the game over and over again for 24 hours?

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Teehee, ‘physical rentals’ sounds like some kind of prostitution

    • Shih Tzu says:

      Actually, $2.50 is pretty standard in the U.S. for prostitution, or at least, I’ve never had any success charging more than that. Wait, I’m not logged in, am I?

  3. rhubarb says:

    Generally, here in Ireland, you can rent a console game for a week for around €5…

  4. Frools says:

    $5 for 5 hours? thats enough to complete the singleplayer of most new FPS games (cod/moh etc)

    • omicron1 says:

      That’s what I was thinkin’! Might make them worth looking at for a singleplayer-oriented gamer like myself who feels slighted by the high prices and multiplayer focus taking over the AAA industry. … if they add such games to the rental service. At present, it seems to be mostly long singleplayer games that have rentals, which could be a sign that they’ve realized this could happen and are trying to avoid it.

  5. shoptroll says:

    $5 for 5 hours seems pretty terrible when you consider you can get a rental subscription with GameFly for $15/month.

    It sounds like the industry is moving towards offering game demos for a price which offer additional content or are a small-offshoot of the upcoming game. Take a look at what Capcom did with Dead Rising 2 and Square-Enix is doing with Final Fantasy Dissisidia Pretentious Subtitle.

    That said, not a terrible idea. I expect we’ll see something like this on Steam by year’s end.

    • rhubarb says:

      Half Life 1 had an excellent demo of that sort, only it was free. A half-hour or so game with everything you can expect from the game, but a different story…

    • shoptroll says:

      That sounds like what Blizzard did with Starcraft and Warcraft III where the demo campaign was a self-contained prologue.

      A bit sad they didn’t do that with Starcraft II…

    • catmorbid says:

      The problem is the fixed cost and fixed measure of time. Many people have bought and tried games only to find out, they’re insanely buggy or incompatible with your system or other crap like that.

      Thus, I would say, in all fairness, the best try-before-you-buy -model would be one, that would include a certain amount of free gametime (that is time measured within the actual game (past main menu) – without any costs (let’s say 30 minutes of absolutely free play), during which you can find out if the damn thing even runs on your system, and if performance is acceptable.

      After the initial period, you could choose to buy more game time, for say, one hour at a time, where the cost of each hour would be based on the average time needed to finish the game, being in proportion to the cost of the full game. At any time one should be able to buy the game, the final price being reduced by the sum of the earlier trial period payments.

      Somewhere in the middle of the game’s average length, one should be required to make a final decision in purchase. So worst case scenario, you play halfway through the game, pay half its cost and decide you don’t want to play it any more and leave it at that. However, what’s best, the game service could keep track of all these former playtimes in specific games, and continue to offer the game at 50% of its current cost to you.

      If a game’s price would ever drop below what you’ve already paid for it, you could be given the option to finalize the purchase for a nominal minimal fee of say, 10% of its current cost.

      A long rant, I know, but the point is, the system would in theory be fair towards everyone, and MAYBE (just maybe) cut down on the piracy a bit as well. I know I would certainly try out a lot more games with this model.

      Of course, the biggest downside would be that if the game fucking sucks, it won’t earn shit, since people realize it pretty soon, without paying the full price. On the upside, it would be a damn good incentive to improve the quality of games in the right direction, plus it would provide some real statistics (provided, they’re ever released to the public) about what kind of games really sell.

      Had I a million bucks to get the idea started, I’d get it started, but since I don’t I hope someone steals it and makes my life as a gamer a helluva lot better =)

    • Brumisator says:

      @catmorbid:
      Your idea is too complicated. It’s much easier to sell something simply and neatly.

    • catmorbid says:

      @Brumisator

      The sad thing is, I don’t think it’d actually be that difficult to do, when using the right distribution platform, such as steam. Steam already counts hours you put in game, already saves your credit card info and offers purchases with just a few clicks, and it already has an overlay which integrates smoothly into game to notify you of important stuff like game keys and so on. The thing is, most of the technology exists already.

      But the fact is that being fair and just is bad for business, hence It’ll take a couple of thousand years and a few apocalypses to finally get there – if lucky ;)

    • disperse says:

      @catmorbid

      The first part of your plan, 30 minutes of free game time, is already implemented by OnLive. I really like being able to instantly try the full version of a game for 30 minutes without having to download, install, and configure it.

      OnLive would be in the best position to implement the second part of your plan as well as they have complete control over your access to the media and can track your play time as well.

      I don’t have anything against buying a game based on my impression of the first 30 minutes. I usually know within that time whether or not I’ll enjoy the game. I might get burned if the game is particularly short but I suppose that’s what reviews are for, right?

    • jonfitt says:

      I much prefer the Dead Rising 2 approach: produce a short prequel or other standalone episode which ties into the full product and charge for that.

      For example a total war game could charge for a mini campaign along the lines of the Americas tutorial campaign.

      Make the demo a mini game (not minigame) in itself and then charge.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      $5 for 5 hours seems pretty terrible when you consider you can get a rental subscription with GameFly for $15/month.

      Except GameFly doesn’t do PC games, only console.

      A better comparison might be to GameTap or OnLive.

    • catmorbid says:

      @ disperse

      Except I wouldn’t do jack shit with OnLive, since it gives me streamed games with inferior quality – something I don’t quite like especially since I just invested ~1000€ in a new gaming rig ;) Would Steam decide to implement such a demoing system, it would be a whole another thing…

      The reason why 30 minutes of demoing might not always give incentive for purchase is because you don’t always know if you even want to play through the whole thing. I often end up just playing games halfway through, because of getting bored or reason x/y/z, still paying full price (Damn you Morrowind, still haven’t finished you!).

      For that, paying according to how much you play the game would only be fair. Seems a nice game, but 50€ price tag is too much? Well, toss in a few hours and then decide or stop it there.

    • disperse says:

      @catmorbid

      Well, I’m in an unusual situation where I have an aging gaming laptop and playing modern titles is an unpleasant experience where I turn all the settings down to minimum and then put a burning hot hunk of plastic on my lap.

      In contrast, OnLive looks good (if you don’t mind 720p Youtube videos then you won’t mind the video compression) and my laptop hardly heats up at all. As long as their catalog of games keeps growing I’ll put off upgrading my computer for a couple more years.

  6. Brumisator says:

    Damn you, Alec, will you stop making excellent remarks in your articles, leaving us poor shmoes in the comments section to to just smile and nod?

    I’m expecting Steam to some day blow this idea out of the water with cheaper and better service.

  7. Stepout says:

    I don’t trust companies who don’t make demos for their games, and this service won’t change that.

  8. Yargh says:

    Spacechem and Magicka are just 2 games that I have recently purchased after trying the demo…

  9. Laneford says:

    How come Console games get demo versions where the simultaneously released PC port does not? (Hi bulletstorm)

    • Bluebreaker says:

      because they dont want to scare potential buyers by showing how bad is the port.

  10. Freud says:

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

  11. Inglourious Badger says:

    I don’t understand devs saying that demos stop people buying games because they’re so sated by the content of a demo, but then saying if you play 5 hours of it you’ll be gagging for more? The only one of those games I ever bought was GRID and I was very much satisfied I’d seen all I wanted after 5 hours. A demo with one car, one track, and the promise of lots of different race modes to come would have made me buy the game. As it is I bought in a steam sale for less than $5 anyway.

  12. ryanhamshire says:

    I agree the price is steep, and definitely prefer a demo. But I’m so glad to see somebody trying to solve this problem – I’m tired of paying 50 bucks for a game and then finding out that I don’t like it and I’ve wasted my money entirely (Battlefield BC2!). PC lags behind consoles in this respect. I hope this idea sticks!

  13. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    I’ll wait for the Steam sale, thanks.

  14. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Makes perfect sense Boris is in the picture for this article. News International (aka Rupert Murdoch) owns D2D and he also owns the Tory party of which Boris is a member.

    • Brumisator says:

      3 degrees of kevin bacon.

    • Initialised says:

      I just thought it was a pointed metaphor on try before you buy. But at least with Boris bikes you still get 30 minutes free so if you time it right you could get all around London for nothing on them.

    • Dozer says:

      Murdoch owns D2D? Then I’m not using D2D. Even if I wasn’t using D2D anyway.

    • Will Tomas says:

      It’s a bit bigger than that. Basically, it goes like this.

      IGN | GameSpy | Comrade | Arena | FilePlanet | Direct2Drive | GameSpy Technology
      TeamXbox | Game Sites | VE3D | CheatsCodesGuides | GameStats | GamerMetrics
      AskMen.com | GIGA.DE | What They Play | Battlefield Heroes

      Are all collectively part of IGN Entertainment. IGN Entertainment is a division of Fox Interactive Media.

      Fox Interactive Media also includes Photobucket, Rotten Tomatoes, MySpace, Fox Sports Interactive.

      Fox Interactive Media is part of News Corporation.

      News Corporation is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

      Go here for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_News_Corporation

  15. Tei says:

    I like that the industry is tryiing things to remove the need be hit-driven, so the first week sales direct everything. But I think this idea is too expensive. 5$ for 5 hours don’t *sound* like a good deal, … maybe It is (I am bad a calculus) but I am not going to fall for that. What about 2.5 for 10 hours?

  16. Soon says:

    They’re going to allow me to give them money to see if I want to give them more money? That’s most generous.

  17. Archonsod says:

    Does any dev really think there’s a risk of people being sated by a demo? Surely that’s tantamount to admitting the game is somewhat lacking in the content department …

  18. Bilbo says:

    You’re paying $5 for limited-time access to the full client, rather than a demo. This is the basic difference. Feel like you’ve kinda missed the point, there

  19. Muzman says:

    Don’t they really like pre-orders as a money spinner and overall sales indicator these days? I think that’s another reason for demos disappearing. Implulse buyers might be satisfied with a demo otherwise (or it might give them concrete reason not to get it if it’s a bad demo). It might be the theory anyway.

  20. Freud says:

    On the bright side, you might be able to play through the single player campaign of MW2 in five hours. It not, it doesn’t matter much. The ending sucks.

  21. DrugCrazed says:

    *points to the Burnout Paradise demo*

    • Initialised says:

      Which I played before waiting until the was £5 on the pre-owned shelf thus lining the pockets of the shop rather than the developer, hell I might as well have pirated it an hacked my PS3.

    • phlebas says:

      Potential resale value is part of the package being sold up front – for all publishers/developers bemoan the second hand market they do profit from it indirectly. You don’t see car manufacturers or builders trying to destroy the trade in used cars or houses.

    • Initialised says:

      Slum clearances and scrapage schemes? or are you equating DLC to servicing and conservatories?

  22. MartinNr5 says:

    I know I’m simplifying things but I really don’t see how hard it can be to impose an in-game timer of … 45 minutes, no matter the type of game?

    After a given time the game just stops and boots you back to the menu.

    Simple as (a simple) pie!

  23. EntropyGuardian says:

    Just wait and buy the whole game on Steam for the same price.

  24. Bassism says:

    I have to say this does sound interesting. I agree that it’s somewhat too expensive to really be appealing.
    However, for something I’d be interested in enough to consider purchasing at full price, I could see myself using the service at it is.

    I also think that Steam would be wise to consider a similar scheme at a more reasonable price point.

  25. bascule42 says:

    What’s wrong with conscientious piracy?

  26. bhlaab says:

    Consoles get demos all the time. It’s just PC demos that are going away for some reason.

  27. po says:

    It would do all gaming a world of good if companies made their AAA titles as the demo first, so they can get the engine up and running and most of the features in there, then use the demo to get feedback and fix bugs in the basic engine code, while the art team is busy adding the content that would make the game complete.

    • Brumisator says:

      That’s called a tech demo, and it’s rarely representative of the final game, so:
      - It doesn’t help consumers understand what the game is going to be eventually.
      - it’s beta testing, which shouldn’t be something demo players do.
      - It’s beta testing, which means a broken game, which gives a bad impression of the game.

    • randomnine says:

      This falls down for several reasons.

      1) Game design and programming aren’t easy. General look and feel, character movement, enemy behaviour, etc. won’t be stable and high quality until the game is almost done. It takes a long time to refine and polish this stuff. Art isn’t the thing that makes games take a long time to develop. At best, you could cut a vaguely representative, playable demo maybe halfway through development, which is typically where tradeshow demos and closed betas come out. Access to these early demos has to be controlled so the roughness and bugs can be excused without putting people off. A genuinely smooth, representative demo necessarily has to be made at the end of development.

      2) Have you noticed how game demos are over 1GB even when they’re only showing ten minutes of a 10+ hour game that fits on a DVD? The truth is, because of re-used assets like the main character, common enemies, interface and so on, showing off 10% of a game still means you need 30% or more of the art assets from the full thing.

      3) Game development is a constant process of refinement and innovation. As a project goes on good developers start to find the fun, bring in new ideas and surpass their older output monthly. If we did a public demo first and *then* started work on the game, the finished game would end up so much better than the demo that we’d need to make another one. Odds are all the content done for the demo would have to be discarded, too, as if it was used for the start of the game, it’d be so crap by comparison that we’d risk putting people off slogging through to the good stuff later.

      4) Getting the word out about a game at the right time is tough. You want to create as much awareness as possible around launch. Release a public demo a year or two before launch, and it’ll be forgotten by the time you need to attract interest. Worse – the game will be “old news”, launching in a market which values new things at £40 and 3-month old games at half that.

      Points 1 and 3 don’t really apply when you know exactly what you’re making and you’ve already solved most of the design challenges, but that’s exceedingly rare. It only really happens in sequels. GT5: Prologue is a good example, I guess.

  28. Zenicetus says:

    Games that are already on my “must buy” list, don’t really need a demo to close the sale. The games that *do* need a demo, are those that I’m not sure will run smoothly on my PC, or in a genre I’m not sure I’ll like. For games like this, a demo has meet me more than halfway to close the sale. It has to be easy to download and install, and easy to wipe if I don’t like it.

    Charging any amount of money for a demo, just puts up a huge barrier to that process of making an “iffy” game easy to check out. I think they’ll lose more potential customers than they’ll gain, if they try this.

  29. Davie says:

    IF they then gave you $5 discount should you decide to purchase the game, that would sort of make sense a bit. But this? This is ludicrous.

    • MD says:

      “If you decide you want to keep the game, the $5.00 initial investment will be applied to the final purchase of the game.”

      Not something I can see myself using, but I don’t have any problems with its existence unless it does become an excuse not to release demos.

    • Davie says:

      Ah, all right. See, I didn’t actually read that link. Good to know they’re not complete lunatics.

  30. Rinox says:

    I came into this thread hoping to find that the Demoman had been scrapped from TF2. For a fleeting moment, I felt real happiness.

  31. Pantsman says:

    If I may, I’d like to hold forth a little on game economics, as I think there are important points to be made here.

    IP is a contentious issue these days, but I think that one thing that most of us who buy our games can agree on is that the reason we pay for our games is to provide their creators with the means to keep making them. This is the premise upon which IP law was originally based. That implies that the purpose of a demo is to help us decide whether or not a game is worth playing, and therefore whether its developer is worth supporting with our money. By letting us try before we buy, the game demo lets us mitigate the risk of shelling out forty dollars/pounds/what-have-you for something we don’t know will merit the expense, by giving us evidence on which to approximate its worth beforehand.

    So why would someone pay x monies for a demo of game that costs y monies? Only because two conditions hold:
    a) There is no lower-price way to adequately assess the quality beforehand, AND
    b) x monies is worth the chance of potentially saving (y-x) monies.
    Let us consider condition a. The implication is that it only makes sense to pay for a demo if you have no other, cheaper way to achieve the purpose of a demo, that is, to test the game. Paying the developer is not in itself desirable, because you don’t yet know whether they are worthy of reward, since that’s what you’re trying to find out! So the usual rules of personal economics apply – it makes the most sense to find the cheapest option.

    The fact is that in the PC gaming world, there is almost always a free option for assessing the quality, whether or not the developers release an official demo. Paying for a demo, then, makes no sense under any circumstance.

    If the only demo costs money, the best thing to do to test the game is to pirate it.

  32. cyberninja says:

    This was the problem that <a href="http://www.gaikai.com/&quot; gaikai will hopefully solve.

  33. Veracity says:

    Not particularly evil, no, but don’t see the point when you can already so easily outright buy “maybe” stuff for as little by waiting for some DD outlet to slash it or, failing that, using online retail twelve days after release (or whatever the current point at which prices suddenly crash to nothing is; I’ve not been paying attention). I prefer what Green Man Gaming’s trying to make work (decide you’re done with a license and they’ll basically take it back off you for store credit), but not sure how comparable that is.

  34. Vinraith says:

    I pay full price for games 1) because I know I’ll love the game and can’t wait to get it and/or 2) because I bear good will towards the developer and actively want to support them.

    Anyone charging $5 for a demo doesn’t qualify for category 2, any game that I’d have to try before purchasing doesn’t qualify for category 1, so I can’t see why I’d ever bother with this. If I’m uncertain enough about a game that I need to play it before buying it, I can easily wait a year for the full game to drop to $5 and play it then. A free demo, of course, might convince me to part with my money earlier, but I have absolutely no motivation to pay to play something to see if I want to pay more for it.

    • Chris D says:

      I agree entirely.

      I’m also not sure what anyone would get out of doing this. If the game is good then showing that to as many people as possible can only help. If you’re aware the game isn’t that great then surely the thing to do is to improve it before you release it. Charging for a demo strikes me as the action of someone with no faith in their game.

  35. Heliocentric says:

    I’m a little too used to paying $5 for the whole game. No use for me, unless the game can be completed in that 5 hours.

  36. Navagon says:

    I think that the reason you won’t be seeing a great many modern titles on this service is that you’d be done with them within five hours anyway.

    That said, I suppose it’s a good way to try games you wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with. But it does seem too steep to encourage regular use. I might use it for the very occasional title I just wanted to be sure about, but it seems too expensive for semi-regular use.

  37. malkav11 says:

    I’ve long maintained that offering a comprehensive PC rental service analogous to Gamefly with a reasonable subscription fee and an unlimited rental period (but a very limited number of games “out” at a time) would be a hugely effective way to combat piracy and simultaneously obviate the need to spend any time or effort on creating a demo. Alas, D2D’s rental service fails on pretty much every count – rental period far too limited, price too high, selection pitiful. But maybe someday.

    • trjp says:

      No service which costs money will ever staunch piracy because pirates don’t want to pay ANYTHING for their games/DVDs/etc.

      Well, unless we’re talking a LOT cheaper – like less than the £4ish the unconnected ones pay for pirated games/DVDs already!

      Cheaper games would be bought by more people – renting games would bring in more people again – but ‘pirates’ wouldn’t be in those groups because anything is more than nothing (or £4!!).

      Renting games where the cost relates to actual playtime WOULD redistribute wealth to the better games rather than just to the most obvious franchises tho. It would deter cunts like Rockstar padding their games with endless repetition in the name of ‘making the game longer’ and instead make them focus on making the game fun (not a concept Rockstar have been familiar with for some years).

      It would also defuse the ‘yearly update with new uniforms’ bullshit because people wouldn’t bother…

    • malkav11 says:

      I’m not saying it would do away with piracy altogether. That’s never going to happen. But there is a substantial crowd of people who at least claim to be pirating in order to try out games to make sure that they run properly and/or assess the value of that game to them. The trouble with that method, from a publisher perspective, is that once you have the game, however illegally obtained, the incentive to actually pay money for it subsequently goes down a lot. A Gamefly-esque rental service would provide all the investigatorial benefits of piracy without establishing any sort of permanent access.

    • triple omega says:

      @trjp:

      You are unjustly generalizing pirates by saying they all have the same motives and limits. They don’t!
      The motives pirates use differ per person, but generally consist of a combination of the following points:

      1) Pirate would pay X for the game, but the game costs Y.
      2) Pirate would pay X for the game, but only has Z.
      3) Pirate wants to sample the game, but there is no demo or the demo is not sufficient.
      4) The pirated copy offers benefits over the payed copy.(no DRM, vendor specific bonus content, etc.)

      Note that the X value here does not have to be 0 or 4 as you say. It can be any number below Y in the first point, or above Z in the second.

  38. Bhazor says:

    So PC rentals?
    Hmmm, I could dig it if the service wasn’t too obnoxious and the prices reasonable.

  39. sinister agent says:

    I’m not convinced this will be a great success, and I’m certainly not interested – a demo is a demo, I’m not paying for a sample, it defeats the point.

    But I feel I should give them credit for at least trying.

  40. gryffinp says:

    Let me put it simply. I just played the Magicka Demo. I am now downloading the full game from steam.

    For me, demos are the number one thing that will sell a game to me. There are so many games, mainstream and indie, that I own only because I played and enjoyed the betas enough to buy the full game. In fact, I will only buy a game at full price if I enjoyed the demo. And if I have to pay money to try the demo, then I simply will not bother.

  41. Quxxy says:

    I’m sorry, but demos are for when you don’t know if you want the game. I’m not going to pay for the privilege of:

    - Finding out if my machine can run the game in the first place,

    - Determining if I even like the gameplay and

    - Work out how much I’m willing to spend on it.

    It would be like being charged $2 to be told the plot synopsis of a movie or read the blurb on a book. The aim of the game is to get me to give you money. Every single thing you put in the way of that makes it less likely I’ll give you any money at all.

    The solution to this, for me, is simple: you don’t put out a demo, I don’t buy your game. Well, unless you’re on my “good game maker” list, which more or less consists of Blizzard and Valve.

    • trjp says:

      PC Demos have always been about testing-out your hardware – esp in a world with sysreqs are guesswork and consumer laws don’t protect software buyers…

      It’s ironic, therefore, that the XBOX 360 is the only platform where demos seem actively encouraged (mandatory for Arcade and Indie Titles) – but even then there are fewer and fewer demos of full-price titles appearing there (and the Gold exclusivity thing is a bit of a smack in the face too!)…

  42. Guiscard says:

    I miss shareware. Knee Deep in the Dead anyone?

    • sinister agent says:

      Not today – left the bloody rifle on the bus. Maybe next week.

  43. bill says:

    $1 for 2 hours would be workable.

    I don’t need 5 hours to learn if i’ll like a game, and paying $5 is excessive in an era of steam sales and GOG full games (plus ebay, amazon, etc..)

    Plus, for games that are 6-7 hours long, it’s be annoying to have to pay $30 to get the last 1/2hrs.

    $1 would be much more of an impulse purchase level too – but i guess they’d be worried about it cutting into full game profits, and it wouldn’t lock people in to buying on D2D like a $5 purchase might.

    PS/ (with no affiliation) you could say that Greenman already has a similar service, in that you can buy the games, but then trade them back in to buy new games after you’ve finished. the trade in rates change, of course, but it’s often enough to get something else.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I’m not sure 2 hrs would be enough for creating a character in Divinity 2 ;) Anyway, the real game starts well after 2 hrs.

  44. SirPenguin says:

    $5 for 5 seems like too much on both ends. I’d much rather pay $2 for $2, though even then…I don’t know. It’s hard a pricing model because it needs to be small, but you run the risk of devaluing the product.

    I also don’t think that the downfall of the demo is really much of a surprise. There are two really big hurdles. For one, it’s expensive. There are many, many more gamers now than there used to be, and game sizes have been getting exponentially bigger while bandwidth costs have not gotten cheaper. Even a 2gb file, something very reasonable for a small chunk of the game, starts getting mad expensive to distribute.

    Coupled with that expense, there’s little reason to even offer a demo nowadays. Franchises have become established, as have publishers and developers. Coverage of games has also reached an all time high, with the general populace knowing more about a game than ever before. I don’t need a demo anymore to whet my appetite, because I have plenty of other choices.

    The demo of 2011 is the podcast and forum, imo. We evaluate games through the eyes of our peers.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Larl, sheeple.

      Wot, you mean like:
      “I really don’t like this game, but the internet said it’s great, so I bought it. Mostly so I could post about it, too.”?

      That would indeed be like the quit message from DOOM.

      As for price: Say what? Traffic is cheap, and if you go the p2p route you can save humongous amounts of local(be it site or ISP based) traffic.
      If ISPs were to embrace and locally cache these things as well, they could push around vast sums of traffic inside their own network and save peering costs alongside, too. All this traffic overkill stuff is just hooey if you view it under the lense of what options we now have these days. Just nobody is really doing something about it, least of all in a coordinated fashion with others.

  45. Njordsk says:

    That’s too expensive. I often realise in like 2 minutes or so if I like a game or not.

    5$ the 2 minutes is such a high ratio…

  46. Inarborat says:

    They didn’t even put the best version of Divinity II up, Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga, that was also released as a FREE demo from the devs. Nice work, D2D.

    • adonf says:

      Where, where, where ?

      edit: Nevermind, I found it (it’s in the “news” section of the game’s site)

  47. Maxheadroom says:

    When Doom was first released you could buy the first 5 levels of that on a cd for £2.99 or something and it was a huge hit.

    I was working in a computer shop at the time and we couldn’t keep em on the shelves.

    Course it was a different time back then wot with no internets or pod-phones. Music today is just noise etc

    • Brumisator says:

      Also, it was shareware, you didn’t even HAVE to pay for it, it was just the effort of printing it on CDs and selling it in stores that cost 3 quid.

  48. fionny says:

    Isnt it obvious what truely has replace the demo? It is at least for me…

    Open Beta = Modern Day Demo
    Closed Beta = Open Beta of Old
    Alpha = Closed Beta.

    Its all shifted down a notch.

  49. RegisteredUser says:

    LOL at the price. Then again, games like FEAR and friends barely clock above 5 hours, which is probably why the price is so utterly insane.

    At 5$ you often can get a whole game on steam sale(or a slew of indies last xmas)..why would I go for a 5 hour limited preview?

    And in turn, if it were 5$ for a day, then it would just be a very cheap way of playing through a game.
    Which is legit; it’s what I used to do with SNES games in our local video store.

    Quite frankly, this would just illustrate the major difference between “real” games that take up WEEKS of your time and/or replay ad infinitum vs those you can beat in an afternoon..

    Example: L4D2 is just 10 EUR and I got it for only a tiny bit more than this rental price being bandied around here during the steam sale..