Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Nobody wants my money

I’m interested in two new games, that I might like. Patrician IV and Starcraft 2. Neither game has demos. If they do, they don’t want me to find them. So I spent the money on an Iain M Banks novel and some archery target pins instead.

It’s like these companies owners are scared customers might find out what their product is actually like.

I’m not. Try some free demos. if you don’t like them, you won’t like my games. It’s easy:

23 thoughts on Nobody wants my money

  1. I think people who bought the collector’s edition of SC2 got coupons for a 7-hour free trial to hand out to their friends. If you can track down someone who owns the game, you might be able to try it after all.

  2. Actually the normal version got guest passes too although the CE might have gotten more(I got 2 for SC and 2 for WOW ).

    I’ve never heard of patrician IV, I did enjoy the SCII campaign(haven’t gotten into multiplayer yet).

  3. I believe that those coupons come with every copy of SC2…I’m sure you’d be able to find them ridiculously easily if you asked even one person who has the game.

  4. I know you don’t want to go begging for a demo, but I do think you can attribute some of their system for it to being essentially the full featured game, single and multiplayer for 7 hours. It’s a different way of doing a demo, but it’s certainly not without it’s novelty.

    I’d be glad to pass you one of my codes.

  5. As big corporations, they need more time to adapt to waht’s happening in the world. In the meantime it’s very ok to let them alone until they get it right, once that happens, we can buy games from them again!

  6. I think maybe Blizzard put more thought in to this than people give them credit for. Yeah, they can make mistakes too, but I think things like this(at Blizzard) are calculated and figured out by people more knowledgeable about what works than I. I too wonder what the thinking is though… Why not make it wide open? Why require a friend? Maybe they find that this method actually brings in more purchases? Maybe it also allows them to track the effectiveness of this sort of thing?

  7. A demo for Starcraft 2 would be a bit redundant. Gameplay-wise, Starcraft serves fine as a demo for SC2, because SC2 basically IS Starcraft 1 with a lot of new stuff added, but the core gameplay is essentially identical.

    I usually agree with the sentiment that games need demos, but in this and a few other rare cases I disagree.

  8. Any new game should have a demo, even if it is “just like the original gameplay” because you a) what if you’re being lied to? and b)people lack the psychic powers needed to know exactly how it’s going to run on your system.

    Don’t even talk about the recommended specs either, because we all know those things, by their nature, are best guesses.

  9. Another spare Starcraft 2 guest pass here if you’d like one. I’ve also got two for WoW if you want to try that ;)

  10. Cliff, what do you say to people who claim that demos actually decrease conversion rates?

    As a gamer and a small developer, I’m all for demos (Infested Planet will definitely have one). If I was a AAA studio exec, I might not bother though. SC2 has so much muscle behind it that they might not need a demo.

  11. On steam, I found the Patrician lV demo, it lets you get to wholesaler before it cuts off. However, I just looked and can’t see it in the Steam store, I don’t know where it went:(.

  12. Maybe they do decrease conversions, but I know as a gamer that a lack of demo broadcasts to me a lack of confidence in the games playability. I don’t have the time to play games that ‘only get good after 20 hours’ either.
    If you fundamentally could prove to me as a humble indie game dev that my demos reduced my sales, I’d take that as a cue to improve my games, not to withdraw peoples right to try before they buy.
    I’m sure people are happier buying GSB knowing full well the demo ran fine on their PC, for example.

  13. MadTinkerer beat me to it. Starcraft 1 is a good demo to Starcraft 2. For good for some and bad for others … like me.

    Of course I had to spend $60 to really conclude to this … It was late, was bored and tired and somehow my finger slipped on the “buy” button … bah

    It’s more of the same but prettier. So for fans I guess it’s excellent news. For people like me who were hoping they would use the full power of their new amazing engine well it just fell flat. Multiplayer ain’t for me and never considered it when I bought the game.

    Might have some cool stuff from modders though but one thing is sure. With a demo I would have saved $60. I went through the last 3 levels using cheat just to get done with it and see the cutscenes.

  14. Honestly, I am fed up with developers that DON’T release demos.

    I am expected to shell out $50.00 with no ability to return it, and no expectation of a refund. I am beholden to EULAs that are NOT made available until I purchase the game (if at retail). And we’re seeing publishers chasing after the looming spectre of piracy and sticking the legitimate purchasers with increasingly draconian DRM schemes.

    After all of this unconscionable crap, I MAY get the game to run acceptably if the stars are right. I damned well OUGHT to be entitled to a release-day demo that is 100% indicative of the final product.

    Of course I’ve bought many games without a demo, and liked many of them. But that should be my choice and not my only recourse other than “don’t buy”. Although I did end up buying GSB without trying the demo. In my defense, LAZORS PEW PEW PEW.

  15. Well said Cliff.

    You once said, a video game is like a rock-band (IIRC). Well, if you want to buy a CD, or an album on ITunes, you get a 30 seconds preview for EVERY song on the CD. If there are 10 songs of roughly 3 minutes each on the album, that’s a demo of 17% of the album… If you go to a CD store like me, you can chose ANY album, and listen to it as much as you want.

    Now, imagine your at the grocery store. They sell tomatoes, but they’re hidden in the back store. All you see are pictures and a review of how good the tomatoes are. Plus, you only get to see the tomatoes once you’ve paid, and a refund… well that’s gonna be a long journey. Would you buy those tomatoes? I think the store would go bankrupt.

    Anyways, just a couple of simple analogies to point out, the gaming industry is out of line here, and the consumers buy into that. What a shame. Personally, I boycott any game I can’t play a demo of (Crosses fingers Civilization 5 mac will get a demo). :D

    Good day

  16. Its not that companies dont want to release demos.
    I believe that the issue issue is bigger than this and more complex.
    For example a game i worked on for a big company was simply too complex to have a demo(crazy dependencies, wicked architecture, etc.)
    The second problem is believe it or not piracy. For example if you release a demo without being carefull it can backfire :). Look at the first cracks for the full Mafia 2. They are actually demo exe’s that were modified.
    The thing is that making a good demo takes time, and squizing this in an allready tight time budget(we all know the huge ammouts of overtime before the end of projects) is really hard.
    In the end the demo might give people the wrong ideea about the game because it was made in a hurry.
    I agree however that a demo should be standard for every game :).

  17. Reply to none:

    I see what you mean. I suppose its just an example of how the whole SYSTEM behind big-name videogame making is kind of broken. You need high production values to appeal to Johnny Hardcore, which requires a LOT of art talent and money. You need to release quickly, in part because the technology will pass you by and in part because you need to release a good few titles in order to ensure that one of them actually pays the bills. You have to fight in an increasingly one-dimensional marketplace (unless you’re Valve or Blizzard, can a large studio expect to make ANY real money if they don’t do FPS games?) with a few HUGE franchises that dominate sales. And hell…if you’re a developer, you could easily make more money with less heartache as a network administrator or some such.

    I think the publishers need to bite the bullet and worry LESS about piracy. Its a cost of doing business, and you can’t really win there. I think the trick is to make ongoing support the big focus. All the patches, free DLCs, online-play with various stat-tracking and league play. If all of that is handled through a reasonbly secure portal, I think you’ll prevent a lot of the pirating…you won’t get ranked unless you paid legitimately.

    Of course if more consumers weren’t jerks and bought the damned games, maybe that would help too. :)

  18. My method of interacting with the non-interqactive and linear experience of a book has receievd extensive demos over many hundreds of books which work in exactly the same way.
    I am also 100% confident that this book will be compatible with my eyes.
    The book also costs a third of the price of starcraft, even as a hardback.

  19. Books and games are not comparable, and many people borrow books from others they have this thing called *gasp* a library! Can you imagine a place where you can borrow and read entire books, watch movies, and read articles, newspapers and magazines for free without paying for them?

    Everyone forgets the library! The biggest “pirate” on earth :)

    Some days man I think copyright/patents would have been better off never existing, and “may the best people who do the best work on the ideas win”. Copyright seems only to exist to protect mediocre businesses from passionate and hardworking people who want to take old ideas and respin them in a unique and often times better way.

    I often wonder how fan projects Chrono Resurrection would have turned out:

    When fans who bought your game can’t make derivative works of something they invested in, something is terribly wrong with the world. How many artists and writers got their start by copying/reworking/remixing cool stuff they thought was awesome? It would be impossible to exist without remixing everyones ideas.

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