Demos a “luxury,” becoming “prohibitively expensive”

Crytek co-founder and CEO Cevat Yerli predicts that the time of free game demos may be coming to an end.

Speaking in an interview with Develop, he explains that putting together a playable slice of a final product is a luxury that’s becoming prohibitively expensive.

“A free demo is a luxury we have in the game industry that we don’t have in other industries such as film. Because we’ve had this free luxury for so long, now there are plans to change this people are complaining about it. The reality is that we might not see any free game demos in the long term.”

Yerli’s referring to recent news of $10-15 pre-launch paid downloadable content, described as ‘very long demos’; an unpopular but misunderstood approach, he says.

“Yes it is quite unpopular, but this is a messaging issue. The problem with any new strategy like this is it initially may appear as a blood-hungry, money-grabbing strategy. But I think there is a genuine interest here to give gamers something more than a small demo released for free.”

He continued: “Really, what this is, is an attempt to salvage a problem. The industry is still losing a lot of money to piracy as the market becomes more online-based. So it’s encouraging to see strategies outlined to combat this.

“I think the whole issue needs to be explained in a better way, because there is good thinking behind EA’s plan. I understand why people are thinking that all EA wants to do is maximise profits out of the audience, but really, what it’s really trying to do is get investment back but while being as fair to the gamer as much as it can. Ultimately, it will be a better deal for the gamer.”

As for a possible demo of Crytek’s next, Crysis 2, the studio’s undecided. “That’s something we need to think about, because we haven’t fully decided on this yet,” he said.

“But whether we do have a demo or not, do I think companies need to release so many demos? I think that we’ll see more and more games not carrying a demo in the future, because it becomes prohibitively expensive.

“Also, given the time pressures in making a demo – in fact given the time pressure of making a quality demo – I think it all becomes really difficult to work with, and I think we’ll see less and less of them in the future.”