Just read a good little article (via Binary Joy) on how to improve your conversion rate via the trial. The trial is ultra important for Indie games and I’ve seen so many bad ones, but I’ve also seen some great ones. The Fairway Solitaire trial was carefully constructed to hook people in and it worked well – many people said they were really enjoying playing it and then suddenly the time was up and they just had to buy it
Here are the main points that I feel are important:
- Make the trial easy so that it can be finished no problems. (Yet still ramp up the challenge a little bit). Get your mum and friends to play it. If they reach the end of the trial and want to play more then you are onto a winner.
- Make the trial rewarding straight away (not after half an hour or something). Fill it with bonuses, trophies, sparkly effects, fancy screen transitions and great sounds.
- Make it interesting by introducing new gameplay features rapidly and don’t let up. You need to give the impression that the game has only just begun when the trial ends and that there’s loads more they are missing out on.
- Don’t repeat any graphics/design elements. Everything should be new in the demo even if straight after the demo stuff starts getting repeated.
- Keep the story quick and punchy, people don’t want to wade through wads of dross just to get to the game.
- Have good quick simple hints (or gameplay that requires none).
- If you have a map or level system, make sure that your demo doesn’t show the player that they’ve completed more than 1/3rd of the game in the hour trial! Otherwise there is little point in them buying it. Just make sure gameplay is 4-5 hours absolute minimum for an average player. (Fairway had about 25+ hours for the best of players)
- Get them hooked. Ideally they should play the hour demo and then buy it at the end. If they only play it for 20 mins then never again, you’ve lost a sale, or if they play it in dribs and drabs they have little incentive to buy it. If you can make it appeal to all family members then the main player may buy it just so the other family members can join in the fun.
- At the end of the day, you’ve got to look at what you’ve made objectively and think “Would I buy this if I was this type of customer?”. If the answer is no, rework the demo (or abandon the game )
- Check out other top games to see what is so good about their demos.
Hope this helps.