At the recent MI6 videogame conference a study presented by Gregory Short and Geoffery Zatkin, heads of the Electronic Entertainment Design and Research group (EEDAR), found that when it comes to sales of videogames a trailer is far more effective than a demo. Several charts were presented as evidence; the charts compared four methods of marketing a game: demo & trailers, demo only, trailer only, and finally no demo or trailer. These charts showed comparisons between cumulative sales of Xbox 360/PS3 units for each category.
Surprisingly the “trailers only” category showed much higher sales then all other categories combined, with the “demo & trailer” category coming in a distant second. Short and Zatkin went as far as recommending publishers focus on polish in the final weeks of development and only after the game has hit store shelves should production of a demo begin.
I have mixed feelings about this study, because a lot of the games that don’t have demos have immense TV and online marketing campaigns, also these games are, whether because of the marketing campaigns or not, some of the most highly anticipated releases. So not having a demo can in fact help these games by making gamers salivate over the idea of playing the game. On the flip side, many of the games that have demos may not be the AAA games that have the ability to move millions of units, or they may just not have the resources to advertise as heavily as some of the bigger games. These two factors can lead to diminished game sales, thus skewing the results further.