View Full Version : Timed vs Untimed, Z-Ball and Bugatron
07-26-2004, 05:02 PM
A while back, svero made a post about time limitations on demos vs untimed with Space Taxi II. In his case, the untimed version performed much better than timed. So I decided to run an A/B test on two of my games, Bugatron and Z-Ball. This was one month of specially marked downloads. Here are the results:
% of total Z-Ball sales:
Z-Ball Untimed: 20%
Z-Ball Timed: 80%
% of total Bugatron sales:
Bugatron Untimed: 55%
Bugatron Timed: 45%
Bugatron is too close to call still, but I think the untimed will only increase its lead as time goes by. Untimed worked much better for Space Taxi as well. So it appears that a time limit works for some games and not others, but the question is: why? I have an idea or two, but I would like to hear what others think as well.
07-26-2004, 05:34 PM
Could you post the actual numbers? It's hard to say if the first game was 20/80 because you sold 5 and 4 were sold under the timed demo, etc.
07-26-2004, 05:43 PM
It wouldn't be appropriate to give exact numbers. But more than a hundred of each were sold during the test period.
07-26-2004, 05:47 PM
Ok, I understand. I just was curious if the numbers were large enough to make the %'s not be deceiving. "more than a hundred" is a good indicator. I find it interesting that the two games have such a large difference. I wonder if there's some generalization about what games would benefit from which method (timed vs. untimed demo).
07-26-2004, 06:10 PM
I would say it largely depends on whether the demo is fun to play continously. If it quickly gets boring, and you require new levels for it to get interesting again, an untimed demo is likely to do better.
If however you could quite happily play the same levels over and over again (because the game doesn't rely quite so much on new levels for it to be interesting), then a timed demo is likely to do better.
With Z-Ball I'd say the fun can be had with the same levels over and over, so it's no surprise that a timed demo is doing so well. With Bugatron maybe it's not so fun to play repeatedly.
Interesting figures though, thanks for sharing :)
07-26-2004, 07:55 PM
I think simonh nailed it.
Games that have highly replayable levels (such as Diamond Mine, Zuma, and etc.) probably do better with timed demos. These games are usually pretty straight forward and almost all the gameplay elements are playable in the demo. Whereas games that emphasize level progression such as most action and adventure games, might fair better with an unlimited demo. These games usually have a lot of new weapons, items, or play mechanics that are only available in later levels. A lot of people play these games just to see "whats next".
Maybe a good question to ask to see if you should try a timed or unlimited demo is, "Does my game heavily rely on saves files or checkpoints?" If it does, then probably your game emphasizes "level progression". If it doesn't,then most likely people enjoy playing the same levels over again and you might want to have a timed demo.
Though this is just a theory. It needs a testin'. :)
07-27-2004, 07:23 AM
I'm curious about how much time did you give for both versions. I'm interested in seeing how much time it takes the costumers to react to such changes. or did you used two versions at once (a/b test)?
07-27-2004, 07:41 AM
I'm curious about how much time did you give for both versions. I'm interested in seeing how much time it takes the costumers to react to such changes. or did you used two versions at once (a/b test)?I let them go for one month, but I am still seeing sales from those versions come in... So expect untimed to gain a little :)
07-27-2004, 02:01 PM
I agree with simonh. From a customer stand-point I like to play free demos that have repeatable fun with no time limit (even if its the same level or two). For instance, I have yet to finish the first world of the Platypus demo and still have fun replaying it occasionally. ZBall was fun for the demo levels, but that fun was only repeatable so many times before you "remember" all the levels. I think it all comes down to how much value you are giving away for free vs. the percieved value that a purchase will bring. In the case of Platypus, the full version will not bring me any additional value if I still have not beaten the first world. Just my 2 cents.
07-27-2004, 02:45 PM
Did the users have enough time to play through the Bugatron demo in the timed version? How much will it affect sales for the timed demo depending if they get enough levels to keep on playing until the time runs out versus if they play through the demo after half the trial-time?
Maybe the timed version of Bugatron will sell better if the amount of levels is better adjusted to the trial-time?
07-28-2004, 03:51 AM
Cool those new forums are same layout as dexterity ones :)
My experience is this: games with levels or high replayability NEED a time limit demo. Other games that are particular maybe sell better with restrictions only.
My game UBM which is still my best-seller after 3 months, uses a mixed combination: you have restrictions in the demo (can't load or save and you can't hire new boxers) AND you have also a time-limit (25 minutes of playing, but after they expire you can just restart the game from beginning).
In that kind of game it works well because you "build up" your manager, hire new boxers, etc. Having to start from scratch every time is bad because you lose all the "history" you've already made.
For a simple puzzle game instead, you can replay it 10000 times and you won't "lose anything" :)
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