EA considering charging for 'very long game demos' - Analyst

Following investor event, Wedbush's Pachter says publisher is prepping $10-$15 prerelease DLC, confirms Visceral's Jack the Ripper as downloadable for XBLA, PSN.

EA has poured significant investment into growing its digital distribution business, a strategy that has for the past couple of years contributed to steep losses. One positive result for gamers, however, has been a glut of postrelease downloadable content packs for the publisher's top titles, some of which have carried a premium. Soon, it appears as if EA will be expanding its "PDLC," or premium downloadable content, approach into the prerelease realm.

The prerelease PDLC will apparently be a bit like Battlefield 1943.

In a note to investors today, Wedbush's Michael Pachter detailed a recent investor event at the publisher's Redwood City, California, headquarters in which group general manager Nick Earl laid out EA's prerelease PDLC initiative. According to the analyst, EA would release what he called "a very long game demo, along the lines of 2009's Battlefield 1943" through Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network for $10 to $15.

"A full-blown packaged game would follow shortly after the release of the PDLC, bearing a full retail price," Pachter said. "Mr. Earl believes that the release of the PDLC first limits the risk of completing and marketing the full packaged version, and serves as a low-cost marketing tool."

Notably, Battlefield 1943 represented a significant boon for EA upon its critically lauded release for $15 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in July. During Battlefield 1943's debut month, EA proclaimed it the fastest-selling day-one and week-one downloadable exclusive title on Xbox Live worldwide, or on PSN in North America. In November, the publisher said that DICE's online-only multiplayer shooter had sold 1.2 million units across the two platforms.

Pachter's note also made mention of Visceral Games' heretofore speculated downloadable game Ripper. According to Pachter, Ripper will be released through Xbox Live and PSN. Rumors indicate that the game will offer a Van Helsing-like heroic take on notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper. EA had not responded to requests for further comment as of press time.

One other point of note from the investor event, Pachter said that EA CEO John Riccitiello "acknowledged that the company had performed poorly over the first years of his tenure, and admitted that the turnaround of the company was taking longer than he originally expected." According to Pachter, Riccitiello went on to say that EA was about two-thirds of the way through its turnaround and one-third of the way toward reaching its goal of transformation into a business that distributes games through "multiple channels."

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Discussion

960 comments
vishakhenzo2005
vishakhenzo2005

yea right paying money for a demo...what next paying money for just a screenshot of a game..???

comachrissie
comachrissie

The definition of a demo is a demonstration of merit, since when did anyone trying to create hype and interest in a game think that making people pay to see what the game MAY look like, COULD play like make any logical sense? Here's a crazy idea, treat your customers like the adults they mostly are and show us legitimate content and quality of story and gameplay mechanics that merits our time and money, don't treat the people who pay your wages like drooling morons with deep pockets who'll scramble over every tiny morsel like so many hobos over the last can of spam. This seems like a transparent move into the Xbox business model of provide the basic unit, make people pay - and at a premium - for every little step above that.

Seiki_sands
Seiki_sands

$15 dollars for even an extended demo is a horrible idea. There is room for pre-release premium content to hype a game, but that content should not be in the game, people should not be made to pay for the same content twice. I'm thinking specifically along the lines of episodic content that serves as a prologue for the game. Imagine getting a 4 hour episode bridging the gap between sequels, an episode that is not in the game to come, but uses its engine, introduces its mechanics, etc.

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

they wanna charge just for demos now? That's crazy >_> I'm glad I no longer game anymore. they treat the customers like crap. @ spike_cloud - the reason them and most other companies are suffering such deep losses is because they make games that suck. games that are 4 hours long and loaded with DRM like limited installs, binding to ONE computer, and online monitering. And you can't even return games that are no good or even defective. When companies treat the buyers better, their business will improve

mjnoir1
mjnoir1

the biggest problem is that the game companies keep seeing the gamer as a cow that needs to be milked as much as possible as often as possible.I don't blame a company for trying to make money but every few months you read about some new scheme that serves to annoy and anger their customer base.

Fatmanfatman123
Fatmanfatman123

I want 5 GOOD reasons why i would pay $15 for a demo. Seriously?

bacardi0987
bacardi0987

I don't know what's dumber. This or taxing soda

OXM-Madman
OXM-Madman

The day I pay $15/£10 for demos is the day demos are 4 hours long.

Spike_Cloud
Spike_Cloud

perhaps none of you see the "steep losses" in bold. They are a company, they are broke, they are trying to make money. It's a stupid reason to ask for money, but I have a hard time getting upset. I myself won't pay for them, but I understand their plight. This economy sucks right now and they are trying to stay afloat. We as gamers need to support the companies as best we can, otherwise we might be seeing a future where only activision/blizzard exists....

DaRk_NiTeMaRe
DaRk_NiTeMaRe

So, more or less, we'd be paying $15 for a stripped down "demo", and then have to pay FULL PRICE to get the full game. There is no reason for this other than greed. Congratulations EA, you started to lose money, and you thought of a plan that will make you lose even more.

jcopp72
jcopp72

won't pay for any demo

jbahari
jbahari

I am in agreement with most of you, I will NOT pay for any demo.

KaizerJinn
KaizerJinn

LoL... dont know which is more amusing, the article or the comments.. LoL... but everyone is entitle to their own opinion, i suppose...

Kalundume
Kalundume

EA never stops to milk its customers and fight them in the same time. I still wait for their chapter 7 filling. I hope it will come soon. The same concerns Ubisoft, Microsoft and other evil empires of the current gaming oligopoly. Oligopoly is bad for the players.

13Jonny11
13Jonny11

No way i would ever pay for any demo. Stupid move.

Flint247
Flint247

Even if the demos were an hour long, I would rent the game instead of paying for the demo. Renting would be cheaper than this and you would get the FULL game.

wolfgang_amon
wolfgang_amon

EA is very consistent with their BS. Fail, please fail!! On second thought with all the selfishness, ignorance, & stupidity in the world they might have just struck gold. The biggest problem is the selfish people that actually pay for all this stuff & make it successful. It all started with micro-transactions...

madSomnambulist
madSomnambulist

Teaser article name, sigh. Titles of the $10-20 variety offered online have established themselves as a legit part of the industry and it's kind of insulting to 1943 to claim their product even in a massively de-tuned lite mode is better than a game purpose-built for that scale. Way to be a bully, EA. Sounds like the iTunes app tease. Have a company offer a $1 demo of a full game or "Free" game that runs on DLC and assume people will always pick that over the cute $1 gimmick game at the top of the sales chart that way. The fact that the $1-2 dollar stuff ranks higher for top-grossing than any EA game the vast majority of the time? Proof in advance this won't work.

wars45
wars45

thers no way i would pay to play a demo . al just wait to see if it gets good scores then buy it then

themidgethotel
themidgethotel

man, what an evil article header. makes it look like we're going to be charged money just to download a demo.

DaSlyOne
DaSlyOne

@spinmastah I read the article and don't see it the same as you. BF 1943 was a stand alone game, not a demo of a full version game. The analyst was comparing apples to oranges by comparing BF 1943 to a "long demo". Full versions follow a demo, thus the reason they are called demo's. Charging for demo's is ridiculous, it's like charging to see movie previews. The article states that a "full-blown packaged game would follow shortly after the release of the the PDLC, bearing a full retail price". So, the consumer would pay for a "long demo" and then pay full retail price if they liked the game and want to finish it.

spinmastah
spinmastah

Is anyone actually reading the article? or just the headline. This article is presented very poorly by Gamespot. The article basically says that battlefield 1943 was a great "long demo" and they should release more products like that. To me it sounds like the plan is, release a 15$ long, fully functional, maybe multiplayer only section of a game, then if you want to pay for the rest of the content you can for the rest of the price (downloadable of course) This is actually a great idea, imagine if you could buy a game that you just wanted to play online and not have to pay for the singleplayer if you didn't want to!

nick280455
nick280455

EA you dumass, do i have to come their my self and show you how to do it. you dont charge for demos thats the most ridiculous thing ive ever heard.

kevin8se7en
kevin8se7en

There are only 2 ways anyone in their right mind would pay for a demo... One is if the demo price was then subtracted from the full game price. No one is stupid enough to pay $10 for a demo, to then pay $60 for the game afterwords. The second being if the "Long Demo" was a multiplayer demo. For example, a Halo Reach demo that lets you play the Multiplayer Beta (like in ODST), or an Uncharted 3 multiplayer Demo or something like that. Not really a "Demo" per say, but more of a single game feature like multiplayer that gives you a taste of the game. On the other hand, if you sell the multiplayer for $10, a lot of people wont buy the full game, and it will actually hurt sales. Paying for Demo's is a stupid idea... period Also... i can rent the full game for under $10 if i'm not sure I want to buy it anyways. So if i'm not sure I want to buy it.. I can go to my local game store and rent it for $6 and beat it rather than paying $10-$15 just to play a few levels. Gamefly is about $20 after taxes, and you can get unlimited games, so why in the world would I pay for a demo when I can get the full game for cheaper?

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I actually like demos, as they let me make up my own mind, as ultimately thats all that counts to me, just because lots of people think game X is fantastic, does'nt neccessarily make it so in my eyes. But to me, having to pay for a 'Demo' completely defeats the whole object, like someone has already stated, i could simply rent it before choosing to purchase it, go figure.

kvan33
kvan33

Meh, I don't have time for demos. I, just like many other people, can tell if a game is going to be good based on reviews and user comments. One time I ignored all of those things and bought a game anyway...never again! Damn you Sudeki!

Garygok
Garygok

I will NEVER PAY for a demo EVER in all my remaining years. As someone below me said, if ever I feel like paying to try a game, I will be renting the full version.

Wallenstein_155
Wallenstein_155

As much as we all bash Molyneux for his high-told promises, I think he might be headed in the right direction with digital distribution. Allow the game to be split up into sections, and each section costs a little percentage of the whole retail price. Consumers will buy the beginning of the game (for arguments sake, let's say $5) and if they seem to enjoy it, they'll buy the next section. However, you could still argue that the first section COULD be free, and have that as a demo (though some games the very beginning would not be an efficient demo). I think the industry should at least ponder the thought Molyneux proposed.

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

It would be a better idea... if they actually charged the $10 for the "large" (must be 2 hours at least) demo, and then, that the final price was discounted automaticly as a download product. That way the company makes happy money while the customer has a widder choice... I would even consider doing it. Instead of people renting games and then paying full price, people have the choice to buy the game if they really like it, and on top have a discount. Anyways... spending money for a demo... hmm... I have like 30 things in mind already that I could spend my money better than buying demos. I could buy milk and bread perhaps? Hey being a student... you have to prioritise on where you spend the $

AStriegel75
AStriegel75

I agree that this is only being presented horribly. This isn't going to be just a 10 minute demo this will be the game but just not be the complete game I do think that if this is just a xbox live game 10-15 for only say half of the product is too much but I like the idea. If you like the game for what you got and don't feel like buying more you don't have to. But, if you love it you have the option to increase your content.

michaelbenoit
michaelbenoit

This is why people are modding there Xbox 360. They are getting ripped off every witch way they turn. You can't blame them for wanting to enjoy all the great games out there while still having enough $$$ to eat. It's sad that 50% of the worlds money is only in the hands 2% of the worlds population, but there saying MORE MORE GIVE ME MORE!!!

MrPush
MrPush

I dont think this is a good Idea.. I think what is a better Idea is like what they did with battlefield BC let users play online and rank up then when the full game comes out transfer their rank and stats from the demo to the full game.. This would be something I would love to see done in more games.

dazandade
dazandade

They can only be greedy if we let them, give them a strong message, spend your hard earned cash else where guys. Power to the consumer....

oKiRe
oKiRe

Did people even read what they are trying to do? 2009's Battlefield 1943 is already a long game demo, as they described.

wondernova
wondernova

@TazSteele im with you dude. also, its not the consumers fault that EA had a bad year financially. why should we suffer?!

bobodopalus
bobodopalus

well i spose its something to get the attention off activision for a while lol

TazSteele
TazSteele

My wife had a funny, but good point....EA should be paying me for Beta testing all these games. LOL Next they are going to start wanting us to pay to join a Beta test. Maybe they should look into the salaries of all these execs making dim witted decisions and start with some changes in that area!

ermac1986
ermac1986

This is illconceived and greedy. When will it end? When will corporations stop trying to milk it's customers of everything they have? It's like the Grapes of Wrath coming to fruition.

maxgil2
maxgil2

lol EA are you serious?..what a bunch of retards...do this you will automatically lose customers...

FidelSarcastro
FidelSarcastro

Wow... that makes a heck of alot of sense. A demo's main purpose is to give gamers a hint of whats to come, to let them wet their proveribal appitites to the great feast that is going to be awaiting them. One of the main reasons Demos work is because they are risk free for the gamer, instead of having to go out and buy a game they are not sure they will like they can play the demo FREE and then if they like that demo they will then go out and buy the full game. To charge for demos will just make people like myself wash their hands of the whole thing, now granted its EA and people already looks at the brand with a fair bit of loathing so it really doesnt change most peoples opinion of them.

Flint247
Flint247

The only time I would pay to try a game is when I am RENTING it. >_>

Lou_Menace
Lou_Menace

I know this isn't about politics...but damn I wish people would stop throwin' the word "Socialist" around like it's bad. Read people...Read.

InherentGamer
InherentGamer

Are u f#*%@ kiddin me ? This is a joke right. Who the hell is in charge over there at EA? I don't know who is more of an idiot... the person who jumps off a cliff or the flock that follows. Someone over there at Ea needs to grow a pair and voice there opinion on idiotic ideas and not be a bunch of brown nosin drones. Wake up America what happened to our radical free thinkin idealist. Are we becoming a socialist country... ?

Iron_dawg
Iron_dawg

ahahaha oh ea so delusional are you.