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March 24, 2010

Will EA charge for game demos?

Posted: 10:02 AM ET

In an effort to expand its video-gaming business, Electronic Arts may start charging for certain pre-game content – a possible move that is already drawing fire from gamers.

In an interview with Wedbush Morgan Securities' industry analyst Michael Pachter, EA Group GM Nick Earl said the company plans to start charging for “premium downloadable content” before releasing the entire game at full price. Earl said the strategy would "serve as a low-cost marketing tool” and limit the risk of promoting a full game that may not do well.

Reaction from gamers was swift. Some denounced the move as a blatant attempt at money-grabbing while other urged patience to see what the final plan would be.

A user named Fimmel wrote on GameSpot’s message board, “Do they really think we'll pay to DL the beginning of the game before we've even gathered enough information to decide if we want to buy the game at all?”

Another commenter, Lord Thayer, wrote on Kotaku, “So, is it safe to assume that, if you buy the demo, then upgrade to the full game digitally, that they would take the price of the demo out? If so, I actually think that would be rad. “

Facing a possible backlash, Electronic Arts has tried to clarify its position on demos. A statement from the company said there were no set pricing strategies for the entire EA portfolio and included a curious line:
“None of the proposals call for charging consumers for traditionally free game demos."

The statement also said EA was working on delivering “premium content” to gamers before, during and after the launch of a final game package. It said each division of EA was experimenting with downloadables in an effort to provide “fresh game content in formats players want to experience.”

We’ve asked EA officials for further clarification about what they mean by “traditionally free game demos” and what impact this will have on future game releases. We’ll let you know if they get back to us and what they say.

UPDATE (10:37 a.m.): An EA spokesman responded to our request for additional information. He said, "EA will continue to release demos and we have no plans to charge for them."

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Filed under: Games • Gaming • video games


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Anon   March 24th, 2010 12:13 pm ET

It's EA.... Why am I not suprised by this?


Chris   March 24th, 2010 12:58 pm ET

Yeah, im definatly not suprised. EA is big on this kinda thing.


Alex   March 24th, 2010 2:20 pm ET

i am a person who loves to play demos. thats how i can see if a game coming out will be any good. but if i had to pay for a demo, then i wouldn't get it. i think it is dumb because who would pay to play just a little of the game, where nothing would get carried over to the actual game. i know i wouldn't.


Patrik Wagner   March 24th, 2010 2:26 pm ET

So what's the point of the demo then?? I might as well just wait and shell out money for the full game.

Good job EA, this is the kind of thinking that creates more and more torrents, available to people for free online.


Glenn Walker   March 24th, 2010 3:55 pm ET

I purchased EA's new Battlefield 2 Bad Company game recently. There are 4 maps that come with the game. EA is releasing new maps for the game in April. So I paid $60 to receive a partial game with the rest coming later. Seems to me that EA is already playing this new game.


Skout   March 24th, 2010 4:14 pm ET

So just let them. Who cares? Sheesh, talk about a non-story.

If people want to play the demos and EA wants money for them, they'll pay. Or not. It's a silly discussion. Honestly, if people are willing to pay for demos, they'll create the market.. as preposterous as that sounds.


Frog   March 24th, 2010 6:21 pm ET

And then all of a sudden, nobody plays Demos anymore. lol.


caporip   March 24th, 2010 9:06 pm ET

The Warcraft 2 demo cost five bucks back in the day. It seems to have done well. The demo prompted me to buy the full game. There is going to be a trade off though. More people will wait for reviews and less people will "discover" a game they like via a free demo


facepalm   March 24th, 2010 11:18 pm ET

%^$# EA. Charging for a game that they want tested out, they are full of BS>


Jason   March 24th, 2010 11:19 pm ET

Hey dummies who responded after 10:34am, THEY ARE NOT GOING TO CHARGE FOR DEMO's so get over it and go complain about something else!


Jon   March 25th, 2010 1:31 am ET

This will chase off all but a very small amount of people who will then not be able to experience enough of the game to find and report any bugs they do find which is one of the main reasons for making a demo. Then since less people know if the game is actually any good or not then less people will buy it. Not a smart choice on EA's part and as others said more people will just download it for free illegally yes but only a small percentage of people ever get caught or punished for illegal downloads... so there is absolutely no point in charging for a partial game. On the topic of paying for new maps and extras though they do this partly because they do not know exactly how everyone will like the game when it comes out so they add more that you can pay for based on feedback and once they feel they have maximized the current game's potential they start with the next game.


Kraze   March 25th, 2010 4:05 am ET

Paying for a demo completely defeats the purpose of it being a demo. This world keeps getting greedier and greedier by the day.


Chad   March 25th, 2010 4:48 am ET

Sorry Jon, but demos aren't beta tests. People don't play demos to find bugs and report them to the publishers or developers, they play to make a choice to buy a game or not.

Typically a demo is a vertical slice of a game that has been polished up before a game's release so the players have an idea of what the gameplay experience will be like.

Charging for a demo won't work. For too many years gamers have gotten free demos. To change that system now would upset too many people in too many ways.

The answer to this is simple. If you don't like the method, then don't buy into it.

Like everyone always says "Vote with your money." You want it, buy it. If not, don't. If they don't get the cash, then they go back to the drawing board for new ideas.


Jay   March 25th, 2010 9:53 am ET

You have to laugh when hearing things like this. Companies can do NO more then what you allow them to do. This is America, where the goal is "make money."

Playing a game demo is not a right. I would pay a $1 for a demo. But let's keep things in perspective. There are demos and there are DEMOs. A multiplayer demo that requires running hosting servers can dig into publishers expenses when they haven't even sold one copy of the game yet. A single player demo is another story all together.

But hey, if no one likes the idea, don't cough up the money. Your life will not change one bit.


MrCleanX   March 25th, 2010 12:01 pm ET

I stopped buying EA games a looong time ago.


Phil   March 25th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

Then that "demo" is no longer a demo...
I think people won't buy the game either...


Ortizimo   March 25th, 2010 12:42 pm ET

Well, if this is true then screw it. I'll wait until some other sucker plays it in my neigborhood then I'll see if I like it. I remember when doom, wolfeinstein were shareware then fully unlockable with the key. Doesnt sound this is the same thing since I know lots of keys were around back then to unlock them and play without paying and i'm sure they learned that lesson.

On top of that, arent they moving away from burning them in their original disk and we get to digitally buy and burn, so that at least reduces their expenses on the disk, shipping, box art and materials, etc.


DogtownZBoy   March 25th, 2010 1:19 pm ET

Demos are a marketing tool to help sell the game. Having gamers pay for the demo regardless if it's $5 isn't to going to help with the final sale. If 100,000 people download free demos expect that number to drop down to less than 10,000 who are willing to pay for it. If EA charges than this only promotes gamer reviewing sites like IGN.com, or 1UP.com further, because now more than ever gamers will rely on how these games rank. No one wants a game that is below a 6 rating, however a free demo might persuade the gamer the other way. So if EA charges its failing up. They lose more sales because are taking away more avenues for the gamer to experience it.

Think about it for a second anything you want to try before you buy you have to pay a small fee. You wanna see that movie trailer online. Nope you gotta pay $2 bucks. You wanna test drive that Scion Xb nope you gotta pay $100. You wanna try out that iPod touch at the Apple store nope buy $10 bucks to get into the store. Its lame to think to charge for a DEMO. Our life evolves around trying things out and figuring out if they fit into our lives.


J.Strange   March 25th, 2010 2:12 pm ET

And so EA will continue to milk their games, and destroy the industry....


Kingsapphire   March 25th, 2010 6:09 pm ET

this is very simple to me. when there's a game i'm interested, i go on the playstation network, and download the demo. if i like the game, i'll go and buy the game. if i don't like it, oh well, no big loss, i didn't have to pay anything to try it out in the first place.

if ea starts charging for demos, i just won't be downloading their demos, and therefore, won't be buying their games. they're shooting themselves in the foot in my eyes.


2g.thR`MassaQuil   March 25th, 2010 7:10 pm ET

this is a terribly bad idea on EA's part...


zibom   March 25th, 2010 10:29 pm ET

HAHAHAHA

Business is stupid as usual. Nobody is going to pay for a demo. We download demos to see if we like the game. EA is trying to get money from people that don't like their games....

Another thing I'm not happy about is the Jack in prices for Download Content such as the Call of Duty "Stimulus Package".

The only thing you'll see is a rise in piracy or a drop in sales.


zibom   March 25th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

Another thing too....

This game featured here is a prime example. It was developed many years ago and very popular on the PC. Then they recently released it on the XBOX LIVE as a couple hour demo that you could purchase. Thats expectable, but I didn't buy it on Xbox because I already own it for PC and the graphics are not up to par with industry standards. But still, they made some money on the re-release because I know plenty of gamers who bought it.

Alot of these companies should either fire their CEO or Marketing consultant because they are why off base from their customers these days.....especially Microsoft.


J   March 26th, 2010 1:14 am ET

Wow.. isn't much of a shocker since it's EA we're talking about. But come on, charging for a demo... that's a waste of cash. Even if they charge 5 bucks for the demo, and oh say 35 for the full game, they are making a extra 5 bucks if you try the demo then download the game. All demos should be free.


Kris   March 26th, 2010 2:05 am ET

So many people are demoing games by pirating full versions nowadays that I do not see this being a big change from the current norm...in fact I'm shocked it's taken this long. Besides, if Sony can manage to charge a couple of bucks for dynamic themes on Playstation (And even manage to SELL some no less), Demo's are worth a couple bucks too.


soulsabr   March 26th, 2010 8:03 am ET

I actually think this is funny. Can you imagine ... pirating game demos? I can't wait to see what they come out with next.


deus   March 26th, 2010 9:47 am ET

read to the end, they arent planning on charging for demos for games that are usually free


gamEr   March 26th, 2010 10:00 am ET

I think it is a good idea because you have gamers like me that play demos to get a taste of the game. If they don’t like it they won’t get it. Think about it that way they sill get a little profit on the game they try and make. It takes a good deal of money to even make games.

The main reason I say this is I’m trying to write a book and it takes money to get things like that done.


Rick stryder   March 26th, 2010 10:03 am ET

who cares EA makes lame games. its all about the classics, i just bought the orginal nintendo and 100 gmaes for $50. charge me for downloadable conent now EA. what does EA really stand for..."eatting ass" because that is what most of their games do is eat my ass.


Xarthos   March 26th, 2010 12:03 pm ET

There is a reason why EA's Command and Conquer 4 is not seen as a big seller. It's the DRM embedded in the game. Here is the real deal: If you make an incredible game that everyone wants to play sales will be out of the park. You don't have to make any kind of lame cert or verification process that continues to verify that you bough the game. I bought starcraft 3 times because my disks went bad or got lost. It's probably true that 90+ percent of everyone listed above me or below me in comments that are gamers also bought starcraft. I don't know of too many people who ever said oh I have to steal this game because its not good enough to buy. For years people have bought it and continue to play it because its a great game. LAN GAMING IS VALUABLE TOO... I won't be shackled to the internet to play games.
A perfect example of hype and demo leading to destruction is Aliens Vs Predator released recently. It didn't do well because the demo showed the consumer that they weren't really getting anything new. I think its clear that the move to charge for a demo is to offset the obvious ruin this will cause when they produce less than stellar games. EA cares about money. That is all.


em   March 26th, 2010 2:03 pm ET

Well I am a pc gamer, so I do not pay for full games ever.

This will not effect me.


Gvii   March 26th, 2010 11:31 pm ET

EA, one of the kings of pushing crap out the door way before it's completed. I love the internet, but one of the bad things it brought is this publisher mentality of release it now, patch it later. Pretty much why I don't bother with jumping on stuff on release day anymore. I remember when I used to get excited about release parties and whatnot. Yeah, those days are long gone. And it's just fantastic that it's bleeding over even into console releases as well. Albeit to a far lesser degree, but it's still rearing it's head.


Johnson   March 28th, 2010 4:35 am ET

It's a warning that 2012 is coming out


katanga timothy   March 29th, 2010 6:45 am ET

demos ain't supposed to be charged. what if the demo is fake and you gfotta pay. EA noways. this ain't good at all


EmmiB   March 29th, 2010 11:42 am ET

I'm kind of surprised at all this, and confused. How is the proposed premium content different from the current premium content of add-ons and such? How?

http://emmithinks.blogspot.com/


dion   March 30th, 2010 1:44 am ET

I see all this coming...as it stands right now you dload the demo and play it THEN find out that the regular game needs a revision update which file size is in the one gig or more area! Then you find out that you dont get all the unlocks or other goodies unless you play it for X amount of days or months. Look I paid full price for it so I should not have to play to get additional features. Reminds me of a game in which if you could not land the jet onto the carrier THEN you cant play at all. Jetfighter?
SORRY..doesn't work that way. AS one person said..vote with your pocketbook. Its simply stupid the way this thing is going. Lets keep the DEMO a DEMO – something that represents the full version of the game.


Marcel   March 31st, 2010 4:29 am ET

I don't want to pay extra for a demo,but rather wait for the full version instead. Before i buy a game i usually go to youtube and watch the pc in-game gamplay vids. It usually helps me to decide to buy a game or not. What if i dont buy the demo and buy the game instead because it looks cool and i want to save money, but the game is crap, then i will be disappointed in EA and wont buy a game for a while from them. But there is a bigger picture in this. The Demo money is a fail-safe for when they make a sucky game. So please watch previews on the net first before buying demo's, otherwise you'll just increase the crap-demo selling market. I know they don't mean it, but they will probably get more money in via idiots buying just for the fun and disappointing themselves later. Remember, you want a game you enjoy, not something that will that will make you angry at EA. if you buy the demo, there's a good chance that you'll buy the game as well. You spend enough already, why not just go the whole way and get the original crap. I love EA games, but i will never buy a demo. I don't pay to do a test drive with a car.


Jeremy   March 31st, 2010 11:46 am ET

Just another reson not to buy EA games lol


Khan   March 31st, 2010 8:01 pm ET

They aren't charging for a demo. They're charging you to be a beta tester. If the beta goes well, they'll release a game around it. That's what I'm thinking EA is considering doing.

Either way, they plan to charge you for something that was once free. Don't think I'm surprised about it. I mean, they charge you the same for a digital download as they would for a hard copy.


Battlefield Player   April 1st, 2010 10:34 am ET

Are you kidding?

"Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Sales Top 2.3 Million
DICE's sequel has moved enough copies to make it EA's best-selling March release on record."

2.3 million x purchase price ($59.95) = 138 million dollars!!

AND THOUSANDS of gamers like myself, who paid $59.95, cannot connect to their multiplayer servers. This has gone on since it's release, almost 2 weeks ago. 2 WEEKS!!

most of these customers are loyal gamers who have purchased every version of the "Battlefield franchise" and we have been left in the cold.

totally unacceptable. If EA repaired my truck, I would be walking right now and be out sixty bucks!!

BOYCOTT EA GAMES AND DEMAND BETTER PRODUCT!!!


James M   April 1st, 2010 8:45 pm ET

Yup, I wont be playing any EA demos anymore. Are they seriously that stupid? I am not paying 1 red cent for 5-10 mins of gameplay.


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