This one conference in 2013 that cursed demos for 6 years

4 min readMay 31, 2022


2013 was another time. Here are the games that were released in 2013.

One of them is still a massive hit. Another marked the end of a wonderful license that hasn’t been yet revived.

At this moment, I was just a student in game design, and I loved Jesse Schell. He was a game designer that wrote a book, made games, made market analysis. This guy was THE reference at the time, and thank you Jesse for making tons of people dream about games at this time.

That said, he changed the market perception of one specific thing : demos. He made a statement about demos in his conference that triggered articles and other discussions about this subject.

This tiny graph, with the worst presentation possible, is amazingly faulty and leaves more questions:

  • How many games are we talking about? One or several?
  • What kind of games?

And other statistical bias:

  • It only shows one platform
  • It only shows 6 month, maybe games were doing better in the long term
  • We don’t have any methodology about how, why and when those figures were taken

If this was on one game, it was a massive error that really skewed the data.

The curse lived on

For years, these figures and this conference about demo went unchallenged. I’ve seen people taking these numbers and never question them. They were repeating here and there that demos did not work.

I still see people worshiping hard numbers, bold views, and beginners look for an easy way out.

What is the best engine?

is probably the question that comes back the more often.

The same answer again and again comes in the comments: the one you’re comfortable with. And yet, beginners always want to maximize their learning, their output. We have questions of the same type in marketing. We tend to affirm our answers because we want to look like we know everything about every subject.

Stoneshard was probably the first game to challenge demos assumption and make a massive hit among Steam players. People barely made demo interesting before that. Everyone would answer that, “look at this conference, the numbers are here, demos are bad!”. It also took some bold move to make a “ghost” steam page that wasn’t really a release and yet take energy from the algorithm.

When I worked at Goblinz Studio, we followed this trend and it was a massive hit for Legend of Keepers as well.

Months later, the guys at Planet Crafter were doing wonderful, and I hinted that maybe making a prologue could be good for the game.

They were doing wonderful before, but you cannot fathom how amazing they were doing after this prologue. It was insane.

The truth is some of these prologue are failing super hard. Yet, some of you will only read a part of this article and believe prologues are amazing.

Thank you guys.

I’m glad we have more figures, and people like Chris Zukowski and Simon Carless exist today. They have a more statistical approach. Those people spend time gathering data. They want to have a broader view before sharing their insights.

You probably don’t notice how much this work is important for the game industry. Thousands of people read us every day, and we have a massive impact on how we influence the industry.

Some of them kind of leave the “numbers sharing industry” like Sergey Galyonkin and join the giants such as Epic Games. They stop sharing insights and helping the broad industry.

I love game designers and people who write, but you guys need to stop worshiping them.




Game Dev Marketer. I share processes, techniques & tricks to do game marketing. Portfolio: