Bringing demos to the consumer always seems like a solid way of marketing a game, right? Of course. But publishers like EA have considered putting a separate price tag onto their trials, and in turn changing them. Talk about this new pricing scheme isn’t new. Back in March, Gamasutra ran an article about EA’s plans to release demos at the tune of $10 to $15, citing these demos as pre-release Premium Downloadable Content (PDLC). Given the price, the plan is to create gameplay experiences larger than the standard demo and along the lines of the size of Battlefield 1943.
Creating the bait and hook costs more than one would think. With the size and cost of developing a game growing exponentially, so is the cost of creating that free taste that comes with every Arcade or (almost every) retail title. The whole reason behind the idea of PDLC from the developer and publisher prospective is to recoup the money hemorrhaged in the development of said demo. As of now PDLC will be an experiment with retail released games, but it may have its affect on downloadable titles in the future.
One of the more interesting parts of the aforementioned Gamasutra piece is the way these PDLCs would be presented. In the article Analyst Michael Pachter is quoted as saying, “If DICE were able to follow Battlefield 1943 with a full-blown European WWII campaign game a few months later, it would have been a wild success.” The metamorphosis and blurring of the lines between demo and game is wildly intriguing in the long run.
This new way of marketing games could be a game changer for XBLA. We could see publishers releasing several-hour long prologues or multiplayer modes for their next big thing. The team at Insomniac has dipped their toe in the water with the release of Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty on PSN in 2008 as a way of getting people into the story and gameplay of the series, and I foresee the same happening in the future with other franchises, not just from EAs library. The “Summer of Arcade” could turn into the “Summer of Games You’ll Buy in the Fall.”
Are you prepared to drop 800-1200 Microsoft points for Gears of War: Marcus’ Arraignment? I sure as hell am! As long as it makes sense, this concept could leave a less bitter taste in the mouths of consumers. Leave us a comment below of your thoughts on the matter.