Games without demos statistically sell better than those with demos - provided they have a trailer to entice players - noted Puzzle Clubhouse CEO and analyst Jesse Schell at a recent DICE keynote (via PCGamesN).
Schell cited video game research and consulting company EEDAR's data looking at cumulative sales of Xbox 360 titles. According to the report, games without a demo or a trailer sold less than 100,000 units on average. Those with just a demo sold about 200,000, those with both a demo and a trailer averaged at around 250,000, while those with only a trailer soared at over 500,000.
"You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half?" said Schell, paraphrasing the hypothetical publisher looking at these figures. "Yes, that's exactly what happened to you."
"People see the trailer and they're like 'that's cool!' and they made a plan. 'I gotta try that game!'" explained Schell. "And then when they play the demo [and they think] 'alright I've tried that game. That was cool. I'm done.' But the things with no demo, you've got to buy it if you want to try it."
Nevermind that ceasing to release demos is a very anti-consumer tack, especially with £40 titles.
What this study fails to take into account is marketing budgets. People are liable to purchase BioShock Infinite with or without a demo because advertising for that game is so widespread and people have experience with the previous games in the series. Less well known games like, say, Nier, may not get the love they deserve because their trailers won't be circulated enough to make an impact.
Still, Schell raises an interesting question: How often have demos turned you off of a game rather than turned you onto one?
Schell makes his point at around the 10 minute mark.