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EA to create paid-for demos

EA to create paid-for demos

EA is planning to roll out a new system of paid-for demos before game releases, claim sources.

Electronic Arts is planning on rolling out a new system of paid-for demos that will be available before the full game, according to analyst Michael Pachter. EA has since confirmed it is considering similar strategies, but that it will not charge for demos specifically.

Pachter claims that his information came from Visceral Studios (they of Dante's Inferno) boss Nick Earl, who revealed that a new strategy of pre-release DLC was being planned.

"Mr. Earl revealed a strategy to release premium downloadable content (PDLC) as a product for sale prior to the release of a packaged product," Pachter said, according to Shacknews.

"The PDLC [premium downloadable content] would be sold for $10 or $15 through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and would essentially be a very long game demo, along the lines of 2009's Battlefield 1943. A full-blown packaged game would follow shortly after the release of the PDLC, bearing a full retail price.

"Mr. Earl believes that the release of the PDLC first limits the risk of completing and marketing the full packaged version, and serves as a low-cost marketing tool," he added.

EA has since issued a statement saying that it is "number of projects for delivering premium content to consumers before, during, and after the launch of a packaged-goods version of the game," according to Kotaku.

"None of the proposals...call for charging consumers for traditionally free game demos," the company clarified, though it's worth pointing out that Pachter did say the idea would call for longer and more feature-complete designs than a traditional demo.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

53 Comments

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theflatworm 23rd March 2010, 12:53 Quote
I just imagine a bunch of guys in suits sitting around going: 'so, what do they get for free at the moment, and how can we get em to pay for it?' They'll be trying to charge for patches next. 'An extended DLC version with additional bug-fix features' anyone?
null_x86 23rd March 2010, 12:54 Quote
lol que? They are going to release game demos (which in my experience have been free since I was born) for a fee? Ha, good luck with that working.
mastorofpuppetz 23rd March 2010, 12:56 Quote
lol, amazing the stupidity some companies go on with.
l3v1ck 23rd March 2010, 12:56 Quote
Pay? For a demo? It's not April fools day yet!
Demo's are free so you'll try them and then buy the game if you like it. Making people pay will reduce the number of people trying the demo and therefore less people will buy the game.
EA really do live on a different planet when it comes to keeping people happy. First SecuROM, now this.
Bauul 23rd March 2010, 13:04 Quote
I don't think they'd be crazy enough to charge for standard demos. Maybe something like the standard demo is free, but you can pick up a triple length demo for £10. I can actually see there being quite a market for people desperate to get there hands on as much of a game as possible as early as they can.
eddtox 23rd March 2010, 13:06 Quote
Oh, very clever. SO: £15 for the demo, £40 for the "full" game; £10 to unlock content that is already in the "full" game you bought; £5 - 15 for various DLC packs.

Well, I most certainly will not be buying, thank you very much.
Kúsař 23rd March 2010, 13:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Pay? For a demo? It's not April fools day yet!
Demo's are free so you'll try them and then buy the game if you like it. Making people pay will reduce the number of people trying the demo and therefore less people will buy the game.
EA really do live on a different planet when it comes to keeping people happy. First SecuROM, now this.

They plan to "extort" money from console players now. But I think it's only matter of time before they'll apply this for PC players too.
yakyb 23rd March 2010, 13:10 Quote
a fiver to be able to play one season on Fifa
or a fiver for the first 3 levels of AVP
or a tenner for one month on the multiplayer of BFBC2

i may consider that as £30 for a game that is getting mixed reviews / im not sure whether i would enjoy is a little too much
sandys 23rd March 2010, 13:10 Quote
its always worked for Gran turismo, why wouldn't it work for others.
Pete J 23rd March 2010, 13:11 Quote
Demo, short for 'DEMONSTRATION', to give the customer a chance to try the product BEFORE buying.

This really takes the biscuit. Come on EA, your reputation is already that of an evil, soulless corporation. You don't need to continually hammer it home every week with some new dastardly act!
yakyb 23rd March 2010, 13:13 Quote
also how many games have you bought that you have not played past the first few levels because you didnt like it

i have bought supreme commander , WiC , Stalker, Fear2 to name a few if i could have bought a £5 - £10 cut down version i may have saved £100.

hell who would have bought hellgate london after trialling the multiplayer for a week
NuTech 23rd March 2010, 13:14 Quote
This would be great if it worked as a meaningful pre-order. Currently the incentive to pre-order is very low (usually extra reward card points and a very small DLC pack) and many people, myself included, think the whole notion of it is pointless as you don't pre-order other media - so why just games?

But, say you paid £10 for a long demo with multiplayer features which was then subtracted from the full game price if you choose to buy it. Now that could be interesting as customers would feel like they have some type of buyer protection as well as value for their money.
BentAnat 23rd March 2010, 13:18 Quote
"Are you sure you want to remove the selected program and all its features? Please select "yes" and insert your Credit Card number below to continue. Or press "Cancel" and enter your Credit Card info below."
Zurechial 23rd March 2010, 13:20 Quote
People laugh at how 'stupid' EA is for doing this. EA didn't get to the position it's in by being stupid.
The stupid ones are those morons driving the market who *will* buy into this.
crazyceo 23rd March 2010, 13:31 Quote
The whole point of the demo is to paint the perfect picture and experience of the game about to be released. If it's a pleasurable experience then more than likely, you'll go out and buy the full game upon release.

By coming out and stating they intend to charge a fee for a demo, it must mean that EA have nothing but dross to release for the foreseable future. They are cashing in now as they realistically feel they are going to be making losses on future game releases.

Would you still be interested if they discounted the full version by the cost of the demo you have already paid for? Personally, no.
littlefarny 23rd March 2010, 13:32 Quote
No, I never paid for demos. I used to buy the Official PlayStation magazine for its enlightened content (long before there was ever such thing as "DLC" on consoles)...

Oh, and read this line in the article; "None of the proposals...call for charging consumers for traditionally free game demos." You'd be getting *extra* content for your hard-earned wadge, not paying for something you already get for free.
BentAnat 23rd March 2010, 13:34 Quote
I would simply NOT pay for/play the game until i see the appropriate score on metacritic or comparable.

In all honesty, a Demo being chargeable is silly. But then, I haven't played a single Demo since Forza 2 - so I'm really not too worried.
As for pre-release DLC that's paid for - that's really a bit like charging you for 0-day fixes... and it's bound to fall down somewhere along the line...
Think DLC not working with the game, etc.
Yslen 23rd March 2010, 13:35 Quote
I hope EA notices the only people who haven't said "NO!" to this idea outright are all suggesting one of two things; that the buyer might save money by not purchasing the full version of bad games (EA loses), or that the price of the demo might be subtracted from the full retail (EA gains nothing).

Based on the responses here, 100% of people are against this idea. Sadly, they'll likely make a lot of money out of this, and soon every publisher will be following suit. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest Activision as the next company to try something similar...
pizan 23rd March 2010, 13:50 Quote
Let's hope Activision doesn't see this. Kotick will be angry because they didn't think of this first.
mi1ez 23rd March 2010, 13:50 Quote
EA seem to be on a mission to go under lately...
kenco_uk 23rd March 2010, 13:55 Quote
Thar not gittin' ma munneys!
do_it_anyway 23rd March 2010, 13:56 Quote
The way this MIGHT work is if the "demo" is an entirely seperate "prequel" or scene setter, utilising the same engine and mechanics to give you a feel for the game, but being an entirely different storyline.

For example, say a game like Crysis comes out and they produce a "demo" that details the events leading up to the main event. Basically, something substantial that allows you to do the easy "training" level and leaves you thinking "wow, I want the real game now", but not so integral to the plot that you can't miss it out entirely.

Think about the last but one series of 24, which had a feature length "prelude". People bought that on DVD before watching the full 24 episodes.

And as a previous person said, Gran turismo prologue's have been around a while.

Having said that, it could always start like this, then greedy suits will dilute it more and more until you really are getting only a free demo. That would suck.
Tulatin 23rd March 2010, 13:59 Quote
Well there is precedent for this in terms of GT5, or even in the past where for $5 you could get the first few levels of Deus Ex on a CD... but really? **** off EA. $10-15 for a "Very Long" demo? At what point in your corporate flowchart did "rape the customer" leave the realm of being a "Don't do it!" and become standard practice?
V3ctor 23rd March 2010, 14:04 Quote
And I thinking that EA was becoming an OK company... damn my hope... I feel used...
licenced 23rd March 2010, 14:06 Quote
Even though they have stated that these paid-for demo releases would not necessarily affect the release of normal, short, free demos, I can't see them bothering to release both.

There are only two ways I would submit to something like this - both mentioned above in various places:
1) If the content is not part of the full game and so adds to the story, rather than simply being the first few levels, or
2) If the price you paid for the content was subtracted when you decide to buy the full game (although this mechanism would lock you into buying direct, rather than from knock-down price merchants like Amazon, so I can't see this one working)

Either way it would still have to get good reviews for me to buy it - whereas with traditional demos I'm happy to download and try for free and it _might_ get me hooked on the game
steveo_mcg 23rd March 2010, 14:12 Quote
Haven't they already tried this with episodic gaming, first chapter was just a "very long demo" then the game was cut....
AltruiSisu 23rd March 2010, 14:44 Quote
The most irritating part of all of this is them knowing there _will_ be idiots actually feeding them cash for this stuff ... there always will be.

*sigh*
DeathAwaitsU 23rd March 2010, 15:04 Quote
The age of the pirate is here tbh. If there was ever a reason, this is it!
dyzophoria 23rd March 2010, 15:16 Quote
isnt april fools a week away EA?
Fizzban 23rd March 2010, 15:30 Quote
What a joke. I'd laugh but its not funny.
leveller 23rd March 2010, 16:04 Quote
EA gone mad.
CharlO 23rd March 2010, 17:32 Quote
Hell it's now the right time, we are paying for advertisment, but with no disguise.
phuzz 23rd March 2010, 17:50 Quote
Ahhh, I see what's happening, EA got jealous that people were hating Ubisoft more than them.
Ubisofts online DRM requirement obviously caught them on the hop and they needed to pull an idea this stupid out of the bag in order to stay "Most stupid/evil corporation in gaming 2010".
It's only March folks, stay tuned, we've got a lot of stupidity still ahead of us!

Coming soon, Ubisoft increase the price of all games older than a year, to cut down on that second hand market, and to increase sales of this years games. EA respond by actually killing a kitten for every copy of Dante's Inferno sold.

Fortunately no kittens were harmed.
ffjason 23rd March 2010, 18:09 Quote
Wow they never cease to amaze me, that's another bullet in their own foot. The games industry just seems to want to push customers further and further away at the moment! Yet they complain it's the customers who are ripping them off....
Sloth 23rd March 2010, 18:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway
The way this MIGHT work is if the "demo" is an entirely seperate "prequel" or scene setter, utilising the same engine and mechanics to give you a feel for the game, but being an entirely different storyline.

For example, say a game like Crysis comes out and they produce a "demo" that details the events leading up to the main event. Basically, something substantial that allows you to do the easy "training" level and leaves you thinking "wow, I want the real game now", but not so integral to the plot that you can't miss it out entirely.

Think about the last but one series of 24, which had a feature length "prelude". People bought that on DVD before watching the full 24 episodes.

And as a previous person said, Gran turismo prologue's have been around a while.

Having said that, it could always start like this, then greedy suits will dilute it more and more until you really are getting only a free demo. That would suck.
In an ideal world where EA isn't completely evil :D

I might actually buy a "very long demo" if it truly was additional content on top of a full fledged game, but seeing fiascos like Bioshock 2's DLC I find it hard to be sure. Who's to say they won't make a full game, then cut out the first two levels and call them "PDLC"? What's more, nothing's stopping them from making level 1 a free beta so all you really pay for is level 2. You have no way of knowing what's additional and what's just content ripped from the real game until it's actually released, at which point a prologue is useless. It has great potential, but far greater risks.

Of course, like you and others mentioned, the Gran Turismo prologues are a nifty little thing. Or if Valve did this it might turn out quite well, for example it would work well with Half-Life 3 (if there was one). I'd immediately buy a smaller teaser/prologue for that series because it's based around a strong story and is from a trusted developer.
Fizzban 23rd March 2010, 18:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ffjason
Wow they never cease to amaze me, that's another bullet in their own foot. The games industry just seems to want to push customers further and further away at the moment! Yet they complain it's the customers who are ripping them off....

Too true man. Seems as though Gamers no longer run the big game company's. Used to be they made games because it was something they loved doing..but now they are being run by suits who don't give two shits about us or the industry. They just want our money. It's almost as though the gaming industry has become a giant strip mine.

We are consistently being spoon fed re-hashed, unoriginal and unfinished games. And then they insult us with DRM, Locked data, and DLC which isn't up to the standard of the modding community. And now they want us to PAY for demo's?!
Pete J 23rd March 2010, 18:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizzban
Too true man. Seems as though Gamers no longer run the big game company's. Used to be they made games because it was something they loved doing..but now they are being run by suits who don't give two shits about us or the industry. They just want our money. It's almost as though the gaming industry has become a giant strip mine.

We are consistently being spoon fed re-hashed, unoriginal and unfinished games. And then they insult us with DRM, Locked data, and DLC which isn't up to the standard of the modding community. And now they want us to PAY for demo's?!
Too true, too true :(.
outlawaol 23rd March 2010, 18:59 Quote
Ridiculous - I don't get where they get these ideas from. Oh, wait... EA... They don't think like a user of there own products... There slogan will be like this eventually; "Free samples! Only $1"
Jehla 23rd March 2010, 19:38 Quote
Did someone mention this was console only for now? I see they are not keen on getting people into piracy then.

Charging for demos on the PC is like putting a collection box next to an unwatched local attractions pamphlet rack and telling people they need to pay £3 for each one.
Jenny_Y8S 23rd March 2010, 20:02 Quote
This worked for me with the TV series carnivale. The box set was like £50 at the time, or I could get the first episode for £4. I bought the single DVD "demo" I loved it and bought the box set.
As someone who never has as much time to plY as the cost of my pc and it's games deserve, smaller cheaper games sounds good to me
Lightning98 23rd March 2010, 22:06 Quote
I used to like EA back in the days of NFS 2 & 3... but that was ages ago... now most companies only look at one thing - money.

The continuing trend of BAD PC games in the last 3 or so years had made me use the following attitude, i consider torrenting as "demos" , you try it... play a bit, and if you like it you buy it...

I never did like the demo games they made, i don't think i ever installed one?
But then again, opinion of this are in contrast when you ask someone in US or someone where i live.
GravitySmacked 23rd March 2010, 22:11 Quote
Only EA could have thought of this.
VTHockey411 23rd March 2010, 22:33 Quote
Just to clarify, Pachter spoke to Kombo today and said that EA isn't charging for "demos". He says that the games will be the size and scope of Battlefield 1943 and that they will essentially be standalone products that preview what a game will be like but shouldn't be regarded as demos because they are much more significant and hold up on their own.

Check out the article here, then maybe you'll think a bit differently.

http://www.kombo.com/article.php?artid=14320
metarinka 24th March 2010, 06:59 Quote
I think people are missing the point. This business strategy works perfectly well in one other market that most people have bought into

Music

buy a single for 5-10 bucks or the whole album for 10-20

I think it's like that. Imagine a really hot in demand game, like halo 3, MW2 etc. If you could buy a rather complete multiplayer (say like maybe half as many maps or what not) a month before the game came out for $15, how many would jump all over that? Also work in epic story telling games if you release a short "pre-lude" or back story campaign before the game came out to get people worked up about the story.

I'm not saying I would buy into this model but it could give die hard fans something to play, and let people try games without a $60 commitment especially if the full price game was discounted against that purchase.
Pete J 24th March 2010, 08:47 Quote
Ah, but you have usually heard the single on the radio first, right?
Tsung 24th March 2010, 09:56 Quote
This has already been done; GT5 "Prologue" on the PS3..

In a way it's a brillant idea, those die hard gamers out there who must be the first to play the game will lap it up. Sure they will moan and complain publicly but as soon as it's available they will buy it. (Don't belive me look at MW2, the number of people saying they would not buy it, joining the steam group "I will not buy it" and then go and buy it anways). To entice them further the game could have a levelling system where you can carry your level on with the full release, or a few extra skins / items for the full release. ;)

So now the development of a game will be.. Fully develop the game.. Rip out 80% of the content for the "pre-version", replace 60% of the content for the "release version" then put the final 20% out as a DLC pack months later . Brillant money making scheme...
Jezcentral 24th March 2010, 10:23 Quote
If this increases choice (e.g. free short demo, long paid-for demo, full game) then this is a good thing. If the paid-for demo gives us money off the full game (like the Creature Creator in Spore) then I don't see this as a problem, either.

Mind you, I don't play demos very often.
Fizzban 24th March 2010, 10:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTHockey411
Check out the article here, then maybe you'll think a bit differently.

http://www.kombo.com/article.php?artid=14320

Thanks for that link. This may work, it may not. We shall have to wait and see. I'll reserve judgment...for now.
lp1988 24th March 2010, 11:16 Quote
If they use it as a sort of DLC I can see the point, give the people who by this som extra content
eddtox 24th March 2010, 11:39 Quote
All of Pachter's waffle still boils down to one thing: it's a demo. A long demo, but a demo nevertheless. This is in the same league as making prople pre-order a game before they can beta-test it.

They are charging for stuff which used to be free, and no amounr of pretty wording is going to change that. There is a reason why demoes and betas used to be free: they helped the developer, both in terms of marketing and in terms of QA. Now, some wisecrack in a boardroom has figured they should charge us for helping them. Greedy pigs.
B1GBUD 24th March 2010, 14:37 Quote
EA = F*ckwits
DarkRose 24th March 2010, 15:25 Quote
No way in the nine levels of Hell.
I am not about to spend money to decide... if I want to spend more money.
I won't even buy a game anymore that doesn't have a demo because I've ended up with crap I didn't care for...
Paid demos? No sales here.
ryall 25th March 2010, 10:15 Quote
Hahahahaha please let me pay for your advertisements.

And that guy above using the music industry as an example of a good business model; would that be the same industry that uses legislation and strong-arm law suits to FORCE their customers to purchase their products? I really hope you were being ironic...

The games industry complains about piracy ruining the scene, yet they do increasingly dickish moves like this and wonder why people are pissed off enough to steal their product. Just like everything else the only ones to suffer are the honest paying customers, this won't affect pirates in the least.
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