Crytek CEO Predicts the End of Free Game Demos

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Crytek CEO Predicts the End of Free Game Demos


Crytek co-founder Cevat Yerli says the era of free game demos could be coming to an end because they've become "prohibitively expensive" for studios to create.

Game demos have been around for an awfully long time. Companies like id Software, 3D Realms and Epic Games were built on the concept. But the times, they are a-changing'; EA recently mused about charging $10 to $15 for "premium" demos and now Cevat Yerli, the co-founder and CEO of Crysis developer Crytek, says he can see a time when free demos will be a thing of the past entirely.

"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," he explained in an interview with Develop. "The reality is that we might not see any free game demos in the long term."

He called EA's strategy for paid demos "interesting" and said that much of the negative response to it was the result of poor communication with gamers."I think the whole issue needs to be explained in a better way, because there is good thinking behind EA's plan," he continued. "I understand why people are thinking that all EA wants to do is maximize 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 the upcoming Crysis 2, Yerli claimed the studio hadn't decided whether or not to release a demo. "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," he said. "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."

It's an interesting position to take in light of Yerli's well-established history as a vocal critic of rampant PC game piracy. He claimed that premium game demos are one possible way to recoup some of those losses; but given that so many downloaders are fond of the "try before you buy" excuse, isn't it reasonable to think that the absence of free demos will only make the problem worse?


Loved the bob dylan joke

But i need demos how else i'm i to predict a game to be a nay or yay

I remember the Crysis demo. The thing was actually very nice. It was had over an hour of playtime(epic by most demo's standards these days), got you introduced to the characters, story, and world, and left of on a big part. Sure the story and characters were a little "meh", but at least we got to learn a bit about them. Plus it provided a good benchmark for system specs.

And I agree, lack of a demo will just cause more people to pirate it under the "I want to see if I will like it" excuse. Which isn't to good these days since most first person shooters all play the same, with a gimmick or two...

*sigh* It seems that becoming a big industry is both the best and worst things to happen to games...

Except I see such a direction only encouraging pirate-to-try for a game.

If anything, demos should become more commonplace.

Video gaming doesn't have an equivalent concept to cinema either, does that mean cinemas are eventually going to fade away?

Not to mention charging for demos will just lead people to pirate said demos. The logic that people will be okay with dropping $10 on a bad tenth of a game is somewhat retarded... I hope.

... sounds like , hey we can sell game demos and the game, bargain.

I'll fix his statement for him (Cevat Yerli)...

' Customer satisfaction and service is a luxury we used to have in the game industry that we dont have in other industries such as film. Because we've had this free luxury for so long now, now the there are [more] plans to change this people are complaining about it. '

Demos were from the days when the developers were so confidant of thier product they didnt mind the public getting to see it before buying it, they knew thier product was good enough to stand under the scrutiny... modern games rely heavily on massive hype and media exposure, having the customers basically falling over themselves to buy the product on launch day.

... plus a lot of modern games release with some serious issues that need to get patched up which would ruin any positive attention a demo would generate if it had the issues.
Look at the state of betas which are thinly disguised demos that come with a escuse if it doesnt run properly.

They can keep thier demos to be honest, even demos these days are hype machines that often do not disclose the full truth about the product... like film ads, often the best bit is in the ads.

NOOOO! Bad idea. I don't understand why demos have to cost companies any money. I played the just cause 2 demo and all it was, was the beginning of the game on a 15 minute timer so you could only experience 15 minutes of game play. I doubt this cost the company any money and probably led to a few people buying that game that might have otherwise not bought it.

I remember days when you used to get demos in magazines!

I hope they don't go...they really do help people (like me) decide if I really want it or not

With the difficulty of deciding whether a game is good or not nowadays, we need demos if we're unsure of the game.

And with steam making getting demos for games I'm interested in easier than ever (one click, wait for download and install, then play)

Andy Chalk:
A free demo is a luxury we have in the game industry that we don't have in other industries such as film.

Really? Then what do you call trailers? Trailers don't really work like that for videogames since most videogames are meant to be played, not watched. I know I will not play a demo, and some of the game I pirated in the passed I pirated because there was no demo and I didn't want to drop the money on a piece of shit game. Later since they were good games I did end up buying them.

And, for the life of me, I still cannot figure this out. PC demos are rare now, yet consoles get demos all the time. It should be the other way around. Not because I'm mostly a PC gamer, but because of one simple thing: Renting. On consoles, you can pay +-$5 to rent a game (and it is the FULL game) and see if you life it. Even if you buy the game, you can still take it back/sell it to someone else. With PC games, CD keys, and stuff like Steam and GFWL where they register it with an account, you are stuck with the game. No taking it back, no selling it to someone else (because they key is already registered and it won't work again half the time), no renting to test it out, or anything...

Why the hell would anyone spend $10 to $15 for a "premium" demo when you can rent the entire game for half that, or maybe even less?

Demos are expensive to put out, yes but they are an inherent form of advertising. Recently I picked up Just Cause 2, which I had no intention of checking out at first, because of it's demo. I can see some of the bigger titles not really needing a demo ( God of War, Final Fantasy, ect) because most people are going to buy them anyway but some of the smaller titles can still benefit from a demo that may get them more sales.

"Ultimately, it will be a better deal for the gamer."

Bullllllshit. Morons.

I predict the end of me buying games that don't have free demos.

If they think that showing a demo is a luxury they don't belong in this industry. Simple fact is in any product there is advertisement, be it a commercial, on the box itself, mail samples, or someone demoing it in stores.

A video game demo is just that, showing off the product to get attention to buyers, you take that away and charge them for it they are going to give you the finger and possibly lash out against you. In this case, steal your game. These lazy ass money hungry companies need to shape up and start thinking about the customer and not the next Hawaiian vacation the executives can take.

If I need to buy the demo, why wouldn't I just buy the damn game?

Demos are to video games what featurettes are to movies. It's the same, a little bit of the content, only in the case of videogames, it's interactive.

Besides, whatever the big mean mega-publishers like EA, Activision or whoever do, there'll always be the smaller ones, the private ones, the indies, etc.

And yeah, no free demos will (or would) make piracy worse.

So no, free demos aren't going anywhere.

Bullshit, demos are easy to make. Just take a tiny part of the game you made and throw it out for free. I fail to see why that's so expensive. The companies are just trying to milk consumers for all their worth and this seems like a good new way to do it.

Yeah that's a great idea, let's charge people money for something that is supposed to get them to spend more money (by buying the full game)! What a brilliant idea! ...In a parallel universe. There seems to be a lot of posturing and varying degrees of stupid coming out of Crytek these days, which is a shame because CryEngine3 looks so nice.

Oh god..... why not do it like this you get a demo and can play 20 minutes every hour (reading text,listening to audio,watching video or cutsceen or pausing the game stops the clock). You can spend 5$ and get a full demo. Then when buy the game and log in(with the key code that comes with the game) you get 4$ of network credits back to that account.

Yeaaah. Tell that to the guys from Batman: Arkham Asylum. Their demo made me pre-order the game a week before release.

...And of course, I played like 10 times through Diablo 2 demo since I couldn't afford to buy the real thing. Still, demo version are of course really, really important nowadays - people don't enjoy spending $50-60 on a game blindly.

Demos are expensive because they have to be bug tested and QA'ed. They have to run the full gamut of a full release, except they only offer theoretical returns.

Now, I'm confused how demo bug testing and QA don't translate to the full product. Unless the full product changes drastically between demo release and full release... but that would just be a case of poor planning.

Honestly, I haven't seen the point of demos for recent games for quite some time. They're bloody huge, and there are still people who have bandwidth restrictions. Before I switched ISPs, one demo would cost me about $15 in additional fees on my bill.

In order to have a premium something you have to have a regular something. EA is offering Premium Demos for a small fee. If they don't offer a regular demo, then are you really getting something premium? When they fail to release the "regular" demo, you are now paying for a regular demo, which is what I don't think EA is saying. I wouldn't pay for the right to demo a game, same as I wouldn't pay to watch a trailer for a movie. If they don't want my money because they don't want to advertise a game, then my money they shall not receive.

Gabe, they're trash-talking you again. Give us a Episode 3 demo sometime soon, would ya? :)

Unless the money you spent on the demo gets knocked off the final copy (unlikely I know) I will not be paying for demo's, free demo's have played an important part in my gaming history and in the case of Splinter Cell Conviction (Utterly stupid AI = no buy), hopefully, my gaming future too.

If companies start charging for demos what's stopping the soon-to-be buyers pirate said game and try it out? Nothing.

How is it so expensive to create a demo? Just cut out a small slice of the full game, and there you have it. Cheap, fast and easy.

I think it'll never happen. C'mon, demos are previews for players rather than reviewers, and if they want money, well impressionable gamers buy the game after a flashy demo...(if it's bad then they deserve it)

How will I know I want to buy it if I don't get to sample it?

The only way I could see it working, is if the "demo" was based on the same engine, and had the same mechanics, but was actually different to the core game itself.

Kinda like an episodic prequel or a stand-alone expansion, (like the demo, actually adds extra stuff to the game when you have both).

Using a game like Call of Duty as an example to explain, the "demo" as it were is the multiplayer part with unique maps unavailable in the main game.

The demo is significantly cheaper, but it has the limitation of a lot less perks and extra weapons the main game has, as well as having no single player stuff, nor the 10-15 maps the main game has available.

The benefit of combining the two would then be having access to those maps with all the extra stuff the main game has.

It would also be nice, if after a consumer has purchased the "demo", they get a code/voucher (or other redeemable), that they can use to either get a discount on the main game, or the code/voucher gives access to extra dlc.

But knowing the big corporations, its likely that a demo that you pay for will pretty much be a demo that you pay for! XD

"I understand why people are thinking that all EA wants to do is maximize 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."

Oh yeah, having to shell out a quarter of the full game's price to get a minuscule idea of what the game's like so EA can milk their games even more than re-releasing the same ones every year with tiny improvements and the year tacked on to the title will be a much better deal for the gamer than, say, allowing gamers to have a free taste of a game to see whether it'll stink or not. No, now we have to depend on critics we may not trust the opinion of telling us whether to pay the full admission price before finding out if it's crap.

Thank you EA. Thank you so very FUCKING much.

No demos? NO DEMOS?

What the fuck. Do you know how many demos sold me on a game I had ZERO interest in or was on the fence with?

Just Cause 2, Red Faction: Guerilla, Dante's Inferno, Bayonetta, Batman: Arkham Asylum. To name a few recent ones from less than a year ago.

Its simple. If I cant play it first, I don't buy it. This doesn't always mean demos. Sometimes I'll rent or borrow or something, but a large percent of the time, its a demo that makes me decide wether or not to purchase something. There's no way I'd pay for a demo, only to decide I don't like it, then not purchase the full game.

Now, if they start charging, say, $15 for a demo, you should get sent(or be able to print out) a code that gets you $15 off the purchase of the full game.(EDIT: Crap. Didn't see someone already posted this idea.)

I dont see how demos are so expesnive to create, most of the time they are simply a freaking tutorial level.

pay for a demo? no thanks.

Consumer CEO TsunamiWombat predicts his company will soon stop trading in Crytek products as a result of this policy. Also, Chicken for dinner.

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