Finally, a good demo!

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by terin, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. terin

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    0
    Praise be allah! (yeah yeah, I am jewish)

    Thought they didn't listen to my advice, they did it on their own, The Theseus Demo is finally someone who timed a demo well.

    I guess the in game demo is about 8 minutes. I am a firm believer that almost every demo out there is too long, with the exception of a very few.

    This opinion of mine changed from when I started... but now I am a true convert.

    Go download the theseus demo and give your own thoughts on having a demo like this. www.sigma-team.net

    Kudos to them, I think it will do just as well as the original Alien Shooter... but I am not buying because I want Alien Shooter 2 ;-)

    -Joe
     
  2. soniCron

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    0
    I clocked the in-game demo at around 4 minutes. However, since you seem to think it's twice that, I wonder if it's event-based, not time-based. Either way, I found it far too short. I never got "into" the game, so when the demo time ended I didn't much mind. Of course, I didn't much care for the game either, so that could have skewed my opinion.

    You're right, though; demos are often far too long.
     
  3. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    One possible drawback to having very short demos is that people will eventually learn that and not be willing to download and try stuff feeling a bit like they're wasting their time. Include in that the time to install and uninstall the game as well.
     
  4. soniCron

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's why I've got a lot of faith in delivering games through the browser as a trial. There are many limitations to that, but I think it has the potential to reap greater rewards for many (most?) indie games.
     
  5. papillon

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,193
    Likes Received:
    0
    warning - have not looked at the actual link, am therefore giving an uninformed opinion. :)

    A very short demo could work well provided it removed all of the crap involved with standard demos. Clicking through multiple links to get your download, saving it to disk, waiting for your download to complete, running the installer, then running the game, then having to clean it off your computer when you're done with it... This is a pain.

    There are mainstream retail games that offer downloadable 1-hr demos and I won't touch them, because the amount of time involved in downloading and setting up their one gig of data is not worth only being able to play for an hour.

    So then we have a new problem - how do you make your demo as streamlined and browser-based as possible so that I can get that very quick play without wasting a ton of time, and still have it properly represent the full game in both content and engine/compatability?

    I suspect this is the point where someone should start hardselling java or something. :)


    [Edit - In other words, what soniCron said, only I took more time and more words to post it.]
     
  6. EJSainz

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dunno

    I don't know what to say about the demo ... I downloaded and played it, and though I liked the idea and the game mechanics, I think I didn't liked some of the things I saw - for example, the fact that your weapons are less dangerous than those of the A-Team. If that's part of the game, or if it's possible to upgrade your aiming, I couldn't say, and it would probably change my mind on buying it - and probably the answer is further in the game ...

    I think the demos should be as long as they need: long enough to show the full mechanics, and short enough to let the player asking for more. Therefore, the kind of game is very important: in 8 minutes you'll probably never get addicted to a new card game, specially if you can't finish a hand. Other games, such as this one, are quick to show, but in this case I still wonder if the game is deeper than this - if there where more elements such as improvements, vehicles, big bosses ... it's better to show them or the player will get an incomplete idea.

    As a bad example, remember Doom : you could play 10 levels!

    Edit:
    (My granny liked the A-Team - she used to say it was so because nobody died there)
     
  7. Sharpfish

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    1,309
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good point. I know it would affect me if I had to D/L something for only 8 minutes. I think demos are too long in general, but why has the 60 mins become a standard? Was it not found to be the sweet spot by companies more established and successful than most?

    I was thinking about a dynamic demo time - stick with me - that get's shorter the more you play it!

    Imagine testing for playing habbits and finding someone is really hitting the demo (number of executions * time in demo / days) Num of executions being lower but with high ingame times could signify a mild addiction and possible compulsion to buy. Likewise a high execution rate over a short period of time (days) could do the same - obv these would need working out and testing.

    Now, if the demo player is playing it solid then every 5 minutes take 1 minute off the total time. If the player is not showing signs of particularly liking playing the game then don't remove time (or even add some so that they MAY be able to one day progress past level 1 without using up all their time). To be clear I mean to allow those people who install and run a game but don't actually get around to "playing it" for whatever reason, time to get as far as you want them to - ie the "selling point" in the game. If they don't want to buy it and the demo time runs out - they will never buy it - but by allowing them a bit extra (when they have shown that they haven't really hammered the demo and didn't get entertainment out of it) they may come around or discover "how to play it" or "why it is fun" - which can take some people longer than others.

    Of course similar results could be gained just by know how far they have progressed and how much time it has taken and adding/removing limits from there.

    Overall though, it is just an idea and probably is overkill (and possibly unworkable).

    I will go for 60 min total time + level/feature limit for now. Possibly then try a 45 minute version to see the difference made (if any).
     
  8. HunterSD

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    Uh, surely we should refrain from heralding 'finally, a great demo' until the numbers come in?
     
  9. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    Well I'll say this much.. and maybe someone from Realarcade can respond to this.. but it was my understanding that Real had done some testing early on and found 1hr was indeed sort of a demo sweet spot for sales on average.

    The truth of the matter is probably that there is no such thing as an ideal demo time, because it really depends on the game. 10 mins or so for a game like this might be just right, whereas for another game (like Cliffski's Democracy game or a mahjongg title) it might be far too short.

    - Steve
     
  10. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    5,130
    Likes Received:
    0
    It all depends on kind of game. Saying that most demos are too long doesn't mean anything...
    I had 30 minutes demo for Magic Stones, then some users (more casual players) complained that in that time they could just learn the basics of the game. I raised it to 90 min (doesn't matter since in demo you can't pass level 3 so you can't finish the whole game) and sales triplicated.

    For more casual/action games, it could be true what terin says. Only way is to experiment.
     
  11. BinaryMoon

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    0
    The reason they all use 60 minutes as a demo time isn't just because it's a good time (although that's part of the reason). It's a user comfort thing as well.

    People have learnt, or even expect, that if they download a game demo they will get to play it for 60 minutes so if the length of time is changed they feel uncomfortable/ ripped off - and are less likely to part with their cash. This is one of the reasons for sticking with the $19.99 price tag as well.
     
  12. terin

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    0
    Meh

    Well, I wouldn't say ALL demos are too long, I simply said MOST demos were too long. The important thing is to not accept 60 minutes as the absolute fact of life!

    As far as "Shouldn't we wait before we say it is a success?"

    Heck no! I wont stake my entire reputation on the success of this game, but I would definately put a small part of that reputation on it. I say if someone walks around claiming to have a good grasp of the market and can't look at a product JUST released and give a thumbs up or thumbs down they aren't what they claim :)

    So, I say I know my stuff and will put words to it before anyone knows how well it does.

    For anyone who doesn't like the game mechanics... tough :) It isn't my game! Besides, odds are most developers will never hit the sales numbers from the first in the series, Alien Shooter: And I like the game a lot myself.

    So, maybe the moral of this story is: Try varying demo times (if it is a timed demo). If 8 minutes is YOUR sweet spot, good for you! If it is 90 minutes, hey, nothing wrong with that. Every game is different, but on average, I think the best place to start from 60 minutes is to go DOWN. Obviously 8 minutes for a "word" game like Bookworm is way too short, you wouldn't have a clue... but there isn't much to Alien Shooter beyond shooting aliens... it doesn't take you 30 minutes to figure that out!

    -Joe
     
  13. cliffski

    Moderator Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,897
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've found that a short demo (Democracy won't let you play a full electoral term) works wonders. And I have also found that the $19.95 isnt a hard rule either. It depends massively on the game. I've always considered a 60 minute demo to be WAY too long. I've bought some triple A games and played them for less than that.
     
  14. Savant

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Messages:
    1,674
    Likes Received:
    0
    Seriously, the 60 minute demo thing is truly excessive. If you download an indie game from, say, 3 different portals that gives you 3 hours of game time. Odds are that you'll be done with it long (either finished or bored) before that 3+ hours is up.
     
  15. BinaryMoon

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    0
    If your game isn't good enough to last an hour (or even three) then there is something wrong with it and worrying about the length of the demo won't change things.

    That's assuming people do this, and that the save games work across installs. I'm sure people do, but I've never tried and think it's a bit much guessing everyone does. It's not something I'd ever considered before.
     
  16. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    I suppose this is why I break every single one of those taboos :) $9.95 games, 10 minute demos, etc.

    Cas :)
     
  17. BinaryMoon

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    0
    I didn't say it was right, just that that's one of the reasons places like Real, and Shockwave do these things :)
     
    #17 BinaryMoon, Jan 8, 2006
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2006
  18. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hm, I'd be concerned if people had had enough after an hour, too. Actually it's probably better if they don't buy the game in that case.

    Anyway, the download link seems to be broken for me.
     
  19. Chris Evans

    Moderator Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,167
    Likes Received:
    1
    Our not have a demo at all. :)

    For this past week, I've been experimenting by not having any demo for my site visitors. On my Game info page, I just have several testimonials and an embedded Flash video of the game trailer. http://www.outsidetheboxsoftware.com/powpow_adventure_info.html

    So far my sales have slightly increased.

    Part of the reason I wanted to do this experiment is because there's a lot of hurdles between the time someone initiate the download and when they actually play the game. A big percentage of downloads never get completed (especially with demos that are +20MB). Then once they download the game, they actually have to install it. Once they install it, they actually have to play it. I've seen cases where people haven't started playing my demo until almost 8-9 months later.

    Then once they actually play the game, you run into issues which many of you have already brought up in this thread. So I'm attempting to do a hard-sell on my website and circumvent all those issues. After all, people buy tons of products online everyday without "try before you buy". I think it's just a matter of getting the right sales technique down. Plus it's saving me some bandwidth.

    Of course I still have a 60 day money-back guarantee, so if anyone feels ripped off or the game doesn't work they can easily request a refund.
     
  20. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    That'd be fine if you didn't have any compatibility problems but most games I've tried here on Indiegamer have had some sort of problem on at least one machine I've tried them on. Even my Mac games don't work 5% of the time which is surprising. I'd have 35% of my sales refunded overall if I tried that tactic!

    Cas :)
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer