View Full Version : Registration Incentives
08-09-2004, 10:58 AM
Most game demos I've seen lately use a combination registration incentives.
Most often these are a 60 minute limit before the demo shutdown for good (a splash screen a the begining lets you know how much time is left), and a level limit (first one or several levels available, with higher levels locked out), and sometimes a nag screen when quitting showing the benefits of buying.
These three seem to be the most often ones used, so I'm assuming that these are the ones that have shown the best success. Am I correct in this? Are there other incentives that have worked well for you all?
P.S. I don't buy the "You shouldn't cripple your game, because those just turn people off, and they'll buy the game if they're honest" argument. I feel you still have to provide and incentive to buy, or they never will. You have to give them enough of a "taste" to make them "hooked", so that they will buy, but not so much that they get everything they want out of it, and then not buy. Therein lies "the trick".
08-09-2004, 11:20 AM
I've considered offering the player who completes the demo a money-off voucher towards the full version. Winning the voucher would be an incentive to play the demo fully (hopefully hooking them), and everyone likes to take advantage of money-off offers.
08-09-2004, 11:44 AM
Another incentive touted around back at the Dexterity forums was ending the demo on a big cliffhanger so the player had to buy the game to find out what happens next.
A variation of the cliffhanger is 'the tease' where the player gets a taste of something really cool but doesn't get to use it fully (the whole demo should fulfil this criteria). An example is giving the player a powerful weapon just before the demo ends when the player walks into a room full of monsters.
08-09-2004, 12:04 PM
I am thinking about this for my game. I looked at quite a few games and how they handled it. For me, the best solution is a nag screen at startup (play, buy buttons, reg incentives, and demo period clearly displayed). There will be almost no marketting in the actual game. Only a dialog that says: "This level is available in the full version." Lastly, a nag screen on exit similar to the start up nag screen.
My strategy is to separate the selling from the game. I want to let the customer interact with the product, not struggle with the ads. I will limit the demo to a few levels, just enough to try the game and want to buy it. This will take some tweaking.
This is a similar strategy to PopCap and GameHouse. I am making a logic game, so the reg incentive depends on the genre also.
08-09-2004, 12:08 PM
I actually like the Idea of giving a discount on the game if you complete the games Demo, and am now looking into adding this to the projects im working on.
What I will now have is a single Nag screen at the start of the game, Which gives this Discount info, as well as a Buy Now link and some other bits and bobs.
I also plan to add some dynamic content to the nag screen, if the user is online at the time then a Fresh Banner will be downloaded on the fly and displayed to the user, this means that one of my games demos will also advertise anything else we do, which we hope will lead onto further game sales.
08-09-2004, 01:48 PM
If by nag screen you mean a forced wait then that is a big turn off for me. I buy a game based on how good it is not on how nagged I become. Keep customers informed about details like price and how to purchase. Avoid nagging... nagging doesn't pursuade me but has the opposite effect.
08-09-2004, 02:20 PM
...Avoid nagging... nagging doesn't pursuade me but has the opposite effect.
Maybe "Nag screen" isn't the term to use. It's essentially a "Sales" or "Product Brochure" screen. I also believe it shouldn't be a forced wait screen; you should allow the user to skip past if they want. Also those screens should go away after registering (another incentive). There's a fine line between "pitching your product" and "nagging". Hopefully our products "pitch", but not "nag".
08-09-2004, 06:03 PM
For my game I have a basic 20 game limit for the demo. However it is pretty easy for sneaky types to crack this limit if they desire. So I have also restricted a bunch of other features to save them as registration incentives. This includes:
- The ability to host multiplayer games (demo version can still join them).
- Inclusion in the online rankings/high score system.
- The ability to use the Plugin Manager to install new maps (demo version can still preview all the maps available).
- Some game options cannot be used in the demo.
I highly suggest you read this article:
It took a little while for it to sink in, but I totally agree with the main point "Rule 1: What you are selling is merely the difference between the shareware and the registered versions, not the registered version itself."
08-09-2004, 08:24 PM
i believe the most effective methods are 1) pure quality 2) a teaser or cliffhanger and 3) the money voucher (well, i think its just a great idea). usually i will completely ignore nag screens, i see them come up and scream "ah damn, i gotta wait thru this" and incessantly click on the screen hoping it will go away faster. a game will usually get me simply because its good or a teaser (freelancer had a good teaser i think). i havent seen the money voucher yet but i can imagine that working since everyone always wants to take advantage of a deal.
Edit: and of course, missing features are a good thing. pocket tanks had a ton of missing weapons and it was a fun game.
08-09-2004, 09:34 PM
- First I would like to say that I generally dislike timed demos. As a consumer, I have frequently put off trying demos because I was entering a potentially busy week, and thought I should wait until a week where I could devote more time to the game/demo. Then I usually forget about the demo and never come back to it. As a developer, timed demos are hard because there really is no way to STRICTLY enforce a time limit.
+ It seems to me that the best incentive is just more content (with of course plenty of readily accessible feature/buy buttons): more levels, more weapons, more of whatever will apear to translate into more fun in a particular game.
? As an indie, I'm always looking at ways to leverage my random number generator by procedurally building as much fun content as possible. My next title is nearly finished, and depends upon randomly generated puzzles. My plan is to generate and ship # of these puzzles for the demo. The demo will then randomly pick one of the # puzzles, tell the user that they are about to play ex. 3/#, and that by registering they will have access to unlimited new random puzzles every time they play. My main concern with this strategy is in choosing an optimal #. Another potential problem is convincing the user that the extra 'random' content they are purchasing will be as fun as the demo content. If there are other problems with this strategy, please post what you think. My main purpose in writing this is to hear if there are any examples of games that have handled this strategy in a particularly good or bad way.
Thanks in advance, LiquidAsh.
08-10-2004, 12:11 AM
LiquidAsh, regarding timed demos, my thoughts exactly. A timed demo will require me to find time for the demo so I can explore it fully within the limited time provided.. most of the time I don't have time or can't be bothered with the result that either I forget about it or else just uninstall it. This is probably just me but I also have this thing against not wanting to see a demo tell me "you're time's up you cannot play me anymore" so even if I do run the demo I quit within the first 2 minutes or so and uninstall almost out of spite.
Obviously this is how I personally feel about timed demos. However, if they actually boost sales, one should always consider them as an option.
For our game, Perihelion, we are limiting the levels and providing nag.. I mean.. sales incentive screens with enticing screenshots of subsequent levels. We want to tempt the customer by letting him / her play the demo until he / she is no longer satisfied and wants more.
Case in point, when I played Platypus I was more inclined to purchase it by looking at the nag screen's screenshots rather than the timeout. If the demo weren't timed I would probably play the demo over and over and chances are I'd eventually purchase it.
In short, to me a untimed demo is like a salesperson that doesn't give up on you purchasing something off him / her eventually.
08-10-2004, 08:34 AM
There are three kinds of time limits out there that I'm aware of.
The first one is a day limit in which the demo expires in a certain amount of days after the demo was installed ("You have 15 days left before the demo expires"). I haven't seen this one used with games, but I have with other software (also it can sometimes be circumvented by setting your clock back). I really dislike this kind of time limit, because sometimes I install a demo, but then can't get back to using it until it's expired (I didn't much of a chance to evaluate the game/software).
The second limit keeps track of how many times you've played/loaded the game ("You have 10 plays remaining"). I don't like this one as there have been times where I've just loaded the demo, and then I get called away for something and had to shut it down. Thus I just "wasted" a play. (Again, I didn't get as much of a chance to evaluate the game).
The third time limit keeps track of the amount of time spent in the game ("You have 55 minutes remaining"). If you play for 10 minutes, and then can't play the game for another month, you still have 50 minutes (of the original 60), to play the game. This one is a bit better, but I'm still not sure if I like it though. Hopefully it tracks time actually spent in the game, and not time spent at the title screen or fiddling with the options.
This last time limit was the one I was referring to in my original post, and it seems to be a popular one now. (RealArcade uses this on every game) I'm still not sure I like time limits. Has there been some research on whether this helps sales or not? I could see this going either way. Some it might turn off, and others it might make them open their pocketbooks sooner. What's been everyone's experience with this? Several years back, I rarely saw time limits on game demos; they were always just content limited. But now I see time limits all over the place. Is it because of some research that's been done (even trial and error)? Or is it just because it's viewed as the "new thing" to help revenue? I suppose for games where you can't limit content easily (like a checkers game), then a time limit might make more sense.
08-11-2004, 12:04 PM
Okay I'm kind of answering my own question here, but I dug up this slightly older thread here (http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=4) that goes into some more details on time limits. It appears that some research and experimentation went into it. The theory that came out of this is -- "It depends on the game whether time limits help registration. If the game has high replayability, even with the other limits, then a time limit can help. If the game depends largely on levels and progression, then a time limit won't help".
08-15-2004, 11:13 AM
One problem with time limits is you get everything for a certain time. If I could borrow a sports car for an hour for free, I feel I would have less incentive to pay for it not more. This is just personal preference because I prefer feature limits in demos.
08-15-2004, 01:31 PM
I'll let you know when the Random Demo Configurator in Super Elvis does its magic :)
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