Data Suggests Playable Demos Can Halve Game Sales

The chart above, part of a presentation by game designer Jesse Schell at Gamelab today, shows data put together by analytics company EEDAR.


The slide shows that an average Xbox 360 game with –

  • a trailer but no demo sells 520,000 units
  • a trailer and a demo sells 250,000 units
  • no trailer and a demo sells 200,000 units
  • no trailer and no demo sells 100,000 units

– in a six month period.

As CVG say, though this doesn’t take into account which games are analysed or whether the big AAA games (like Call of Duty) that don’t run with demos (or don’t have them until after release) would make any difference.

On the Xbox 360, Arcade games have to have  a demo. Would a substandard demo put people off? Can a publisher twist what a game is like with an unplayable trailer?



  1. Did you know that in America when ice cream sales go up, so does the murder rate? Ergo, ice cream creates murderers!

    Data that has not had any scientific rigor attached to it (such as this demo data) is literally worthless and generally cuases more harm than good as people try to explain the numbers without controlling for external variables.

    Incidentally, it has been found that the higher murder rate has a lot to do with increased heat, and thus stress, and thus people acting with less inhibitions. Ice cream is also sells more when it is hot.

  2. True dat, I remember not being impressed by the Burnout Paradise demo until one day it caught my eye in a sale offer and decided to buy it.Never looked back…… arcade racer developed for PS3 to date for me. Demo’s don’t always do justice to the final game but some certainly do and can prevent lemon buying. Difficult to judge at times.

  3. I haven’t bought a game on the strength of a demo for a long long time. Silent Hill and MGS on the PS1 might have been the last ones actually. Demos these days are stupidly large to download, take far too long to load and last about a minute. In the old days they’d keep you engrossed and lead you right up to a point where you HAVE to play more.
    I’m much more inclined to watch a YouTube review or gameplay video for a short while to gauge whether a game is worth buying or not but nothing can best the opinions of friends and peers.

  4. Infamous demo was pants. You didn’t get the feel of the game. However I still bought it and the three titles so far are stunning. This info looks fairly conclusive.

  5. I believe it. I can’t really remember the last time a demo got me to buy a game. There are plenty of demo’s I played where I already knew I was going to buy it (god of war, tiger woods). And I really enjoyed the demo for that new call of juarez downloadable game, but I still haven’t bought it yet…

  6. Don’t do demos.

    Full stop.

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