Xbox One drops demo requirement for downloadable games

On Xbox One, games are just games. Whether it's a downloadable retail game or what would formally be known as a Live Arcade game, they're all the same in the Xbox Live Game Store. One consequence of that decision is that there is no demo requirement for games on Xbox One.

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On Xbox One, games are just games. Whether it's a downloadable retail game or what would formally be known as a Live Arcade game, they're all the same in the Xbox Live Game Store. One consequence of that decision is that there is no demo requirement for games on Xbox One.

"Not all games will have demos like Xbox Live arcade games have had on Xbox 360," Microsoft's Marc Whitten said.

Microsoft's new policy matches the one PlayStation has had for the entirety of PS3. That decision has sometimes been criticized, as games would less frequently offer demos on PlayStation Network. "That said, we are going to work on lots of ways to make it easy for you to find and try new games on the service," he told IGN (via OXM).

Retail games will also be offered digitally on Xbox One. However, unlike Steam, games cannot be preloaded before release. "Not at launch, but you'll see us do this and much more over the life of the program," Whitten pointed out. You will be able to play games as they download, however.

From The Chatty
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    September 3, 2013 11:30 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Xbox One drops demo requirement for downloadable games.

    On Xbox One, games are just games. Whether it's a downloadable retail game or what would formally be known as a Live Arcade game, they're all the same in the Xbox Live Game Store. One consequence of that decision is that there is no demo requirement for games on Xbox One.

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      September 3, 2013 11:49 AM

      Corollary headline: Pre-release game demos officially dead.

      I remember back when PC game demos died off in the mid-2000's, primarily because developers were going heavier on multiplatform releases, and therefore had to have the resources go to console cert and other things. There was also the potential for the pre-release demo to soften the sales response for the game itself; the Soldier of Fortune 2 multiplayer test is a prime example, as its online population overshadowed that of the retail game, even years after its release. The Unreal Tournament 3 demo was another example; it showed how bad the GameSpy integration was, how console-focused the menu systems were, and failed to demonstrate the game's then-hyped "Warfare" mode (which actually wasn't that good). I remember a lot of Shackers (myself included) coming out of that demo with a "no buy" verdict (and the joke was on us, because the UT3 demo was signed with the same code signing certificate that resulted in Gears of War PC becoming unplayable ( http://www.shacknews.com/article/57039/epic-explains-gears-of-war ) ...except Epic didn't patch the UT3 demo.

      With no more demos, that meant that consumers wouldn't be able to find out if the game was horribly broken before release (yes, demo code wasn't usually final, but it was pretty close, and would give a hint as to which bugs would be fixed before release, and which bugs wouldn't). We were stuck either preordering on blind faith, or waiting until post-release for the press reviews to come out. Demos were still being coded for XBLA, since it was a platform requirement, but that's gone, probably due to numerous developer complaints of having to spend that much development time to fulfill a requirement they barely cared about anymore, and had license to abandon on the PC since there was no platform enforcement.

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        September 3, 2013 12:20 PM

        This trend is probably not good for players but makes business sense for publishers. In the movie biz, there's the concept of "buying your gross" — when you've got a stinker on your hands you limit or eliminate pre-release access and run a ton of ads, hoping to get people interested enough to buy a few days worth of tickets before word gets out the movie is a dud. If you've spent millions of dollars to have a developer make a game for you and it turns out the game is bad, releasing a free demo is only going to make more people realize they don't want to spend money on it.

        On the flip side, games that are good have a business incentive to create a demo and get you hooked. Ask any drug dealer — it's easier to get a buyer to take the first hit of something that will hook 'em if that first hit is free. Ergo, I don't think demos are going to go away entirely ... but publishers will only roll them out when it makes sense for them to campaign to get a taste of the game in front of players who would otherwise dismiss it. Game buyers — like any kind of buyer — just need to be discerning and informed.

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          September 3, 2013 1:12 PM

          So how do you couch "buying your gross" in video games? The end result of that seems to be situations like Kinect Star Wars, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Steel Batallion: Heavy Armor, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and so on, where the standard pre-release hype train ensues, while in the background, the publisher is essentially hand-picking pre-release press review copies to send out (or worse: sending out NONE, forcing news outlets to buy on launch day and release a late review). Also, word gets out really fast; I specifically remember the marathon thread of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, where a review leaked out, and it was a mediocre score. It got pulled and cleaned up, but once the embargo lifted, there was an avalanche of unsurprisingly middling reviews.

          The classic box office theory of "buying your gross" relies on word of a stinker not getting out in time, which these days is folly, aside from preorders. Publishers have been guilty of driving up preorders for the past 4 or 5 years, and I don't know whether driving preorders have been trending upward in the past year, or holding steady, but I feel like there have been a lot more instances of gamers getting burned by a stinker in the past two years than in the other years of the 7th console generation. There's no true regulation yet, but there have been efforts to get the Better Business Bureau involved, and EA is trying to make a marketing play of "yes, you can return games!" (with a ton of strings attached), so the full-on "caveat emptor" attitude is eroding.

          Which is a good thing, because video games are the most expensive price-per-base-SKU entertainment product, and many publishers are seeing $60 as a base level to start pouring on upsell opportunities, and not as a significant financial hurdle. That's excluding free-to-play, which is its own dirty ecosystem (search for the term "whales" in context of free-to-play business strategy).

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      September 3, 2013 12:07 PM

      There may not be a requirement, but I would think publishers would be dumb to not have a demo at all.

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        September 3, 2013 12:10 PM

        It doesn't mean publishers won't do demos for their games, but for XBLA style games, it's no longer a requirement.

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        September 3, 2013 12:11 PM

        research suggests otherwise, and results on PC and PS3 bear that out

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        September 3, 2013 12:12 PM

        they'd probably prefer not do. time spent making one, etc. especially if the game is a turd.

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      September 3, 2013 12:21 PM

      Demo's are still important, but I prefer the method Valve did with Half-Life 1 nearly 15 years ago, a standalone episode known as Half-Life Uplink, a pretty satisfying experience--even today.

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        September 3, 2013 1:15 PM

        Awesome as that was, I don't think it's fair to expect developers/publishers to pay to create exclusive content just for demos. Games are already short enough as it is...