Indie game storeFree gamesFun gamesHorror games
Game developmentAssetsComics

A demo is not a guarantee for having commercially success.

But having no demo on itch, and only a paid game is almost a guarantee for having no commercial success.

At least this is my opinion on the matter.

You would need to be an established creator of games that people would buy from you without trying before. And even there, I have had bad experiences with buying sequels and such.

 Maybe some very good game play videos or other forms of marketing.

I imagine two scenarios:

1. Someone finding your project by marketing. Word of mouth. Have previously played your games. Youtube. Seeing someone play it. Whatever. The point is, the user knows what to expect. And might be inclined to buy, before even visting the page.

2. Someone finds the project by chance. No knowledge. A paywall is a hurdle. A demo version lowers that hurdle. A web playable version or demo version lowers it even more.

(1 edit)

But they already know me a little because I made fangames and other smaller games, and yet they don't even bother to have interest in the latest project. The first scenario is already in process, only now it has not given the necessary impact, and the second, my game has alrealy demos from previous versions, but it seems a little contradictory to me that at the beginning you say that a demo is not a guarantee of success, and at the end you say that it helps reduce that hurdle.

Sorry, that is semantical and basically a part of math, so my language skills are lacking here to express myself. Also, it is art and without a huge marketing budget, it is also luck based.

Hmm. What would be an example to show by other topic, what I meant. I can only think of not quite good enough examples. Maybe this one:

If you wear a seat belt while driving your car, you increase your chance of survival in a crash. But this will not mean, just because you wear a seat belt, have an airbag, drive safely, etc, that you will have a crash - or survive said crash. Other people might have a crash without trying and even survive without buckling up.

If you have a demo version of your game, you increase the chance, a potential buyer will check out your game. But this will not mean, just because you have a demo, a good desription, nice screenshots, and adverstise yourself on youtube and social media, you will attract (paying) players. Other games might go viral without trying and even have commercial succes without advertisment or demo versions.

(Driving reckless would be a marketing budget. As I said, the analogy is not good. ;-) )

Also, this is only my opinion. Maybe look at top-sellers on itch, if you see any patterns. My first impression was, that the current top sellers went viral on youtube.

For your game, it might be as simple as people not wanting to buy it in early access. You have more ratings than some games that are here and on steam and are moderatly successfull on steam. Or maybe the people that previously followed you, were looking for other things or are more interested in free games.

tl;dr reducing a hurdle does not mean that people will run the track to begin with

And if Early Access doesn't work, why have other Early Access games like Palworld worked? 

It seems to me that according to a marketing expert's blog, one of the keys to success is that they last at least 10 or 15 hours.

You talk about this game? I read about it for a whole half minute and believe that your situation is not comparable.

It is like asking, why you can't cross the sea in a barrel, because barrels float and ocean liners float too and they can cross the ocean.

The floating is not the cause, it is just a helpful thing. Same as it is not the early access that gives success. Same as having a demo version gives not success. But take away the floating or the demo version, and you gonna have a hard time. 

Early access is a money grab with usefull side effects. You either satisfy demand for a game that was advertised or you use it for extended beta testing and to get some money. Also, free marketing. And releasing in "early access" gives excuse to have even more bugs in a game that people would be angry about, if it were regular release. And that palworld marketed for a about three years before going early access and we talk about a game with a budget of around 10 million dollars.

The play time is another such thing. Just because you inflate your play time to 15 hours does not make a game successful. But on the other hand, very short games are deemed by some players not worth the purchase. But it depends a lot on the genre. For a crafting game, 15 hours is a bit on the low end. Those can easily have 100+ hours of play time. And if you do it wrong, people might detest the grinding.

Now, there is a bit of wisdom in the play time. But you need to view it backwards. If you managed to make a game that people want to play for 10+ hours, that is probably a good game and might have commerical success. So if you only look at the commercially successful games, you will notice that there are many games with a play time of 10-20 hours - and might jump to the conclusion that the play time is a cause. It is not. It is an effect or maybe only a side effect. Because you do not take into account all the other games that have this play time and are unsuccessful.

And that is my conclusion about all this. There is survivor bias at work. We notice the games that are successful and see things they have in common, but that statistic will not tell us, what is cause, what is effect, what is correlation. And the marketing budget is often forgotten.

(1 edit)

You Know? For every long paragraph you make, you are right. The success of the game doesn't always come from investing a lot in marketing or its quality, but in an unpredictable way and it is the consumer who decides to buy or not, among other factors.

Many so-called marketing experts or even the developers themselves have the mistaken idea that to be successful, you have to superficially follow trends without understanding them.

Before moving it to Early Access, it was only the alpha and beta demos with free donations, but I realize that even with that model it didn't work much.  All this boils down to is that it's not the kind of game that people want?

I may not be right, but I try to argue soundly. The thing with the demo version I advised for, was because of observation. I noticed games with paid only content having less ratings and followers and comments than pay what you want games. This still might be a fluke, because of what games I did browse. Maybe there are paid only games that fare better, because they are paid.

Having success as an indie game developer is a bit like having success as an indie musician/singer. There are just so many people trying it. It is hard. Even if you do everything "correct", you might still not have success and frustratingly see projects that did many things wrong yet still are more successful.

Oh, and you observed first hand what a demo version could have as an effect. People posted videos on youtube while playing your demo version. Maybe you got some followers due to that.

Of course, those demos that I published have been useful to me for something, to obtain feedback and visibility (which I could at least).