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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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Open Letter on Exclusive Demos

by Rainier on Dec. 16, 2003 @ 10:15 a.m. PST

In the gaming industry, the free playable demo is one of the most popular and powerful tools to interest gamers in the final product. It therefore seems logical to expect publishers will maximise the game's exposure by giving the demo the widest possible release. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and sometimes a demo is given the most restricted release: to one site for several days or even a week. This hurts the industry at large much more than it can help a single relationship. Read more for the full letter ...

In the gaming industry, the free playable demo is one of the most popular and powerful tools to interest gamers in the final product. Production and testing of a demo can also take significant resources out of a development team. It therefore seems logical to expect publishers will maximise the game's exposure by giving the demo the widest possible release.

Unfortunately this is not always the case, and sometimes a demo is given the most restricted release: to one site for several days or even a week. The marketing perception that this creates good exposure for the pertaining demo is actually a misconception, as enthusiast gamers resent having only one, crowded, choice for download. And all file hosting sites, including the ones listed below, will simply not mention the demo _at_all_, thus limiting its exposure to general news sites only.

Promotions like this only help one website, but at the expense of alienating the enthusiast community which makes up a large chunk of the overall audience and download traffic. It absolutely hurts the industry at large much more than it can help a single relationship.

We have already presented this situation to several major publishers who have had plans to do exclusive demos in the past and who have agreed to stop this practice, but it's still happening. Therefore, in an effort to end this once and for all, the following gaming websites (together representing over 19 million unique visitors per month) have agreed not to host any exclusive demos anymore, even after they eventually become public:

While these websites are normally competitors, this competition provides the freedom of choice that enthusiasts want by offering the widest possible distribution of any demo rather than the most restricted one. Therefore, something this disrespectful of the industry as a whole has inspired all of these websites to stand together in this open letter.

We value your readership and ask for your support in sending out this message by not downloading exclusive demos, emailing game companies who release exclusive demos, and letting your opinion be known on public message boards.

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