How long should my demo be?

So this is aimed at published authors but I guess anyone can voice their opinion. My question is simply is it better to release your entire game as a demo or just a portion of it?

On one hand releasing a full demo would allow you to iron out more bugs and typos but does this reduce the amount of sales?

Alternatively an author could release a shortened demo which would obviously require people to buy the game when released to finish and see the ending but this would not allow the entire game to be throughly tested.

I know personally sometimes I have bought games that I have only played through once. I wasn’t around for their development but if I could have played a full-game demo I’m not sure I would have bought the game.

Does anyone else have opinions on this?

1 Like

Depends on what you want, really… Some of those posting demos/WIPs here are just writing for fun and/or aren’t very interested in whatever they might earn from it and so gladly post their works from the beginning to the end until it’s finally made available for purchase at the CoG site. Heck, even some of those who are more interested in earning something out of it may do that, because it means members of the community can offer help with correcting various kinds of errors, give suggestions on how the story could get better, voice concerns about possibly controversional situations, that sort of thing.

Possibly you can think about it from these perspetives:

Are you doing this just for fun or wanting to earn a little cash? If the first, then you might want to post as much of it as possible, but if it’s the later, you might want to limit how much of the game/wip/demo is revelaed before it’s fully released on the CoG site.

Are you confident in being able to create a good game without any help/input from the community that could make it better? If yes, then you have less reason to let the demo go on for all that long. If no, well…

Want to both the cake and eat it? That is to say, you want the community’s help/input but want to leave some surprises so they’ll still be inclined to buy the game after playing through it? Either make the demo/WIP mostly open; letting the players have access to most of the chapters but the last few ones - and maybe do so while leaving a bit of a cliffhanger (but perhaps not too much of one to prevent table-flipping incidents). Or don’t make the demo/WIP part(s) that everyone can have access to all that long, but make use of a handful of choosen beta/playtesters for help/input…

Just my 2 cents, more or less :sweat_smile:

1 Like

My personal opinion is to have a part of the game available to all people as a demo, then have a select group of testers play the whole game. This way, most people will have to buy the game, but the whole game will get proofread to make sure things are the way you would prefer to have them.

Edit: Sorry if this comes across wrong.


@DarkSpeck thank you, this is very helpful. I’m not really about the money as I know there isn’t much to be made through a hosted game. Sales and feedback were just the only two things I could think of that would differ between the different types of demos. I was also wondering if there was another aspect that I was missing as well.

@NoGo Yes, I’ve also thought of this possibility. There are a few things that I’m not sure where to cut off however. For one how many people? Obviously you can’t send the link to everyone as there would be no point. But the fewer people the fewer mistakes are caught and less brilliant ideas are shared.

I’ve found it easier to keep offering the whole game to the community and see the feedback you get. To complete an entire game takes a long time and if it’s your first piece there’s going to be a lot of thing you could improve on. The community here is really good at helping with that whist being extremely supportive.

The only issue I’ve found is that people are generally a lot more positive in the forums than you’ll get from people who will buy it in the future so you really have to push for negative feedback.


I am new here, but what I am thinking about doing with mine is giving people a prologue and some of the first chapters and getting my friends to play through the full game. Is this a good idea?


I prefer longer demos to fully understand what I am getting in to, but I can’t deny that having the full game at my fingertips does dampen my enthusiasm. For example, Guns of Infinity. It was fully demo’d on the forums, and I played it extensively. Unfortunately once it was released I was kind of worn out on it and as a result I’ve yet to buy it.

1 Like

It’s a fine idea. As we’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think there’s any compelling reason not to give the forum the full game to playtest (and then pull it once you publish). The number of customers you might lose by playtesting it is minuscule compared to the benefit you get from having many eyes on your game. But you don’t need to make the full game public – though I believe if you want to publish it with CoG, you will need to have run a beta on the CoG Forums.

1 Like

Thank you very much.

I’m writing my first game at the moment, so apologies if this comes off as a totally novice question.

How long should a playable demo be, both in terms of overall word length and per playthrough?
If I submitted a piece in the work-in-progress thread, I’d want to provide enough writing to represent how the rest of the game will turn out. But if it needs improvement, I’d want to be able to incorporate feedback and advice going forward without having to rewrite large chunks.

Any suggestions/advice on this will be greatly appreciated, thanks!

Honestly, there’s no ‘right’ answer here. Just write what you’re comfortable with writing and when you feel confident enough to put it out to the public for feedback then put it out.

Obviously, the more stuff you have in your demo, the more likely you are to get ‘better’ feedback since there’s more content for the readers to give feedback for.