Honest representation of a game.

How often have game demos caused you to realize you didn’t want that game after all?

In my web wanderings I came across a video the other day. This person is Jesse Schell (click the photo for the link) who says “Game demos can drive customers away”. He is none other than Puzzle Clubhouse creator Jesse Schell, and discusses the “Hype Curve”, “Peak of Inflated Expectations”, and also “Trough of Disillusionment” of marketing a game. Note to developers now and past: Maybe you guys could band together and force the folks who make the lame-ass games out of business. Because if the lack of a demo makes a game improve in my opinion, there’s a serious problem.

Mr. Schell, (who is a professor) says people see a game video, and like their hunter gatherer ancestors, go after it with a plan, and that is why they don’t like demos – once they play a demo they are ‘over it.’  “People see the trailer and they’re like ‘that’s cool!’ and they made a plan. ‘I gotta try that game!’ And then when they play the demo and think ‘alright I’ve tried that game. That was cool. I’m done.’ But the games with no demo, you’ve got to buy it if you want to try it.”

The professor says (he has a chart) that you could easily claim that those higher rates of sales were merely because buyers could not try that game. Now, lets be clear here:  That doesn’t make the game good or better than those without a demo, in fact, it adds to the deceit of lousy game creation. Many developers have made crappy games from day one, employing this as a promotional tact and direction, and being dishonest.

I would say that in many ways some ideas here are entirely representative of what many game developers now believe and accept. They build a game, and from the beginning (or, maybe along the way) it is or becomes crap – so just over hype it and it will sell anyway – who cares about my customers? Many games simply would not sell at all, in the light of honest evaluation, and THAT is why demos make this sort of resounding statement. (dishonest gaming review journalism adds to sales of crap games too.) I might add here that it is likely a certain number of demos are built on the backs of E3 sales demos, and just given the heave-ho out the door.

Demos do not kill sales. BAD demos do. Demos made in a lousy uncaring way, demos representing a poor aspect or representation of the game, demos done in a bad manner, demos that are sloppy. If you have a crappy, sloppy game –well, then it is a GOOD, accurate demo.  In all true representation –  demos can be their worst advertisement. if the game is crap to begin with. Developers that avoid demos strictly because they have a lame game come across as your basic scam artist that supports building complete and total crap, because – why else would one be so pro advertising hype and against letting a consumer actually experience the product in an honest evaluation?

So, why sell a game on an entirely bogus premise to begin with? Is that all that a game development studio really has? Maybe there is gaming related “Inflated Expectations” (Due to advertising or promotional copy released) and, why would that be except for misleading advertising or promotion? If there is a “Trough of Disillusionment,” that is likely because a certain ad agency has oversold some lame piece of crud and promoted it in a dishonest fashion!  A buyers/players hopes for anything can be smashed on ownership when they realize they have been completely and totally mislead (Far Cry 3, I am talking to you). All because the advertising and promotion was a LIE, the game was very much misrepresented.

Customers will realize it is and was “ALL hype” before a purchase by playing THE DEMO. Otherwise, what are they left with recourse wise? If they buy it, they are stuck with it once the package is opened (how very convenient). Once developers  manage to ditch “used game sales” they will finally be selling their treasured one-use bottle caps. This applies especially to digital, as customers are doomed from the moment money gets plunked – they cannot even resell it!  But, that was development intent, right? We basically purchase a boat anchor for our game stations. Otherwise, as an honest developer – you would promote a fair product in a fair way for a fair price.

Gateway to Utopia
Mr. Schell says all people want and go after the same thing – Utopia. Whether food, cars, TV, any type of pleasure is represented as that, and that is why we chase it. Sadly, this is all a part of marketing hype, and misrepresentation of any product from the outset.

Why would anyone have expectations after you (Mr. Developer) have built up a game to be ‘the end all do all’ of all games (when it’s probably just the same old dreck you produced last year with a new coat of paint) Why don’t you just come out and say it? “If we represented our product honestly,  NO ONE with a brain would buy it.”

Otherwise, you will simply show us and demonstrate to us that it is an interesting and fun game, and worthy of our money. Sadly, no matter the platform, I can point out a relative mountain of lame, crappy games that people have purchased, all believing they were going to be good, or at least “fun.”

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