Developers may want to think twice about releases demos to the public. According to games industry research and consultancy firm EEDAR, releasing demos may have a negative effect on sales.
Game developer Jesse Schell presented data during a keynote speech at Barcelona’s Gamelab conference showing that, on average, Xbox 360 titles move 525,000 units six months after release when a trailer is involved but no demo. However, games with both a trailer and a demo sell roughly half that — 250,000 units.
Not at all surprising, though, is that a game without a trailer or demo sells fewer than 100,000 copies within six months. It’s called marketing people.
This data could be misleading, however, as correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Perhaps it has less to do with demos affecting sales, but that the titles that without demos are the kinds of big gun titles that are already in a position to sell more, like Call of Duty.
The kinds of games with demos are usually of humbler origins. Developers and publishers push the product onto people to get them to try it and hopefully get the mainstream to co-opt it.
What’s more, Schell presented at DICE 2013 in February, claiming that the games that sell are the games that players are anticipating most but can’t play through demos.
Schell went on to say:
“You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half? Yes, that’s exactly what happened to you.”