Shocking news: Sony is just as bad at communicating with business partners as it is consumers. At least, that very much appears to be the case! Earlier this week, an update to the PlayStation developer portal – a kind of official forum for partners – revealed that moving forward it will require all games with a wholesale price of $34 or higher to include a two-hour trial for PS Plus Premium members to play.
This is one of the perks of Sony’s new subscription tier, as announced earlier in the year, although we’re only just beginning to get word of how it all works. There was some confusion around the original reporting, shared by Game Developer, which suggested studios may have to manually create demos. We questioned that when the news first broke, and assumed players would simply download the entire game, and be restricted to two hours of gameplay. That’s how it works with EA Play’s current ten-hour trials, for example, and appears to be the case here.
The demos, according to the reports, will be required to be available within three months of the game’s release date – and must be provided for a year. Again, this is all mandated, with the exclusion of PSVR games. Publishers can also create bespoke demos if they prefer, but this requires additional resources, of course.
The problem, according to additional reporting from Kotaku, is that none of this has been properly communicated yet and developers and publishers are a little peeved they’re seemingly being required to provide two hours of their titles to Sony without any compensation. Here’s the rub: PlayStation can sell its pricey, £99.99/$119.99 subscription tier with this added perk – but publishers, as we understand it, won’t see a cent of that money.
PS Plus Premium, it must be stressed, will launch in around four weeks in parts of Asia, and little more in the United States. How this information is only just being shared with partners confounds us!
Of course, this is all potentially good news for us! As consumers, it sounds great to have the option to try virtually every game with a wholesale price of over $34 for two hours, without restriction or limitation. But seeing as there’s an argument that demos can actually decrease sales, we understand why some publishers and developers wouldn’t be happy about it. Either way, this all sounds like yet another example of Sony’s cumbersome communication.
[source twitter.com, via gamedeveloper.com]
I just realised that the reason we may not have a full list of PS Plus Extra/Premium games yet is probably because Sony hasn't locked it in yet.
I'd never even contemplated the idea because it seems insane, but I'd put money on it if publishers are only just finding out about the trials thing, which should have been communicated months if not years ago.
I still don't really understand how trials/demos are a feature of a premium subscription service and not just something that exist already. They're essentially adverts for products.
To me it's like Netflix having a premium subscription plan that includes trailers.
I wonder whether any games will be delisted if there’s a retroactive mandate that publishers aren’t happy about and don’t want to put resources towards.
Edit: looking more closely I realise it won’t be retroactive so won’t affect old games.
While I like this as a consumer I don't think it's right for Sony to force devs into it if they don't want to have a demo.
Have they confirmed with these timed trials whether or not the timer starts when the downloading starts?
@PenguinL Because most publishers don't do it. They aren't willing to let people try their games for free, hence why they might need a financial incentive.
@get2sammyb I wouldn't base that assumption on a few random articles. I know you keep pushing this narrative that Sony are bad at communicating just because you wanted all the info the moment it was announced but that's not how marketing works.
But surely they will get money when their demo leads to people buying their games…unless they think those games aren’t very good of course.
It’s a really baffling requirement. I understand it in theory but there are surely quite a lot of games which don’t really lend itself to it.
As a lifetime PlayStation fan, the way they've been handling things this generation is beyond disappointing and frankly beginning to draw me away from them.
Seems like we're back to big ego Sony, smh.
@RBMango Sounds like they're only just telling their business partners so they're probably still figuring out when the timer will actually start... 🤡
@TraCuz- I don't think this is big ego Sony — more incompetent Sony.
@thefourfoldroot Fair point, but it could also deter sales like you say. I can see why publishers wouldn't be happy.
Surely Sony wouldn't try this on with their suppliers and think it would be ok not to secure agreement before communicating it to their customers. Lets wait and see i guess!
@AdamNovice I hope I'm wrong, but them communicating this to partners weeks before the service launches doesn't inspire much confidence.
I wonder if GoW rag or forsaken or GoTsushi 2 or spiderman 2, etc, will get the two hour trial treatment, as well.
@get2sammyb @thefourfoldroot I assume that it's (in part) a response to the CDPR/Cyberpunk situation - where if players had access to a demo before launch, i'm sure the whole refund kerfuffle wouldn't have happened - this way Sony is putting the onus on the Dev's to launch a game in a decent state, rather than implement a proper refund policy
Genuinely hard for me to care about this when there is no general refund or trade in policy though (I.e. they charge us but don’t let us own games). In this situation, demos should be mandatory.
But this has nothing which games are gonna include on service.
@nessisonett Agreed. I know it's unlikely but a game like Returnal could easily have been completed within a two hour window. Same with elden ring which has been completed in under 9 minutes ( yes I understand there were a billion hours to get to that point).
Obviously there is the option to prepare a demo to avoid the above but that's time and resources to create , which some developers simply don't have.
I expect we'll see a lot of upcoming indie games at that $33.99 price point.
@Pinkman and Resident Evil 3 remake has a trophy for completing it in under 2 hours.
@Pinkman Some games purposefully start out slow as well or have a large set piece at the start which doesn’t really reflect the rest of the game’s experience. The new Horizon for example would make you think it was a linear game like Uncharted.
@thefourfoldroot Well I suppose this works a little like a refund policy right. Rather than buy the game, play it for two hours, and refund it — you just get a two-hour demo instead.
The downside is that you need a $120 subscription for the privilege!
Developer/Publishers will be terrified cause these days most release broken pieces of s*** at launch so now they’ll have to get it right or lose potential sales.
We truly are back to the arrogance of Sony of the PS3 days, no some ways its worse can see why people think it's a way too stop company's releasing broken and unfinished games, but it's just another way for Sony not to issue refunds.
Hopefully this means AAA games won't be so short that they can beaten in the 2 hour trial window. I mean come on, you've got games like Elden Ring that only take ten minutes to beat.
@PenguinL I haven't played it but it's on the to do list. Not sure I could beat any game in 2 hours though.
Indeed. Next best thing. Although it might impact how companies pace games I guess.
Disappointed it doesn’t count for VR though. If anything games that can potentially cause motion sickness are the ones most in need of this option.
Putting 'demos' behind a paywall is absolutely ridiculous. The whole point of a demo should be to give those sitting on the fence the opportunity to 'try' something before they decide whether to buy. Therefore, it makes no sense to hide this behind a paywall so only those who have access to 'hundreds' of fully complete games they can play at no additional cost can try before they decide whether the game is worth buying. Its not like they are 'desperate' for content and can 'make do' with playing hundreds of games until the game releases and wait for reviews etc to decide whether or not to buy now, wait for price drops or until it comes to their subscription service or skip altogether. Its those that 'prefer' to buy their games, not subscribe that need the 'demo's' the most...
I can understand why Sony's first party studio's may well benefit, after all an award winning game like Returnal really didn't sell well and a 'demo' may well of helped convince people that it was 'worth' the £70 price tag. However, hiding that Demo behind the most expensive subscription will mean that the vast majority of people won't get to try and will still sit on the fence.
With relatively limited SSD storage too, will people bother downloading a demo when they have all those fully complete games they can download and play at no extra cost - its not like you are 'desperate' to find something to play as you have access to hundreds of full games you can try for free. It makes much more sense to offer demo's to EVERYONE - especially those who 'prefer' to buy their games rather than pay a subscription.
It just doesn't make sense to me at all!!
Sony just trying to piss everyone off.
What’s the reason for the difference between the claim Game Pass boosts sales of individual games outside the service, and the claim here that game demos decrease the potential sales of a game? Seems like someones wrong/lying.
As always, focus on the negative and generate angry responses and views. I remember how many articles you create when sony change their store. No wishlist, no image of games blah blah. They fixed them relatively quickly. There will be some teething issues initially and it is totally justifiable to talk about them. But making the a lot of similar news again and again (Like 10-15 articles about no Bethesda games for PS) is ridiculous.
Because Sony is absolutely moronic nowadays.
With all the games coming out, the F2P games, the free games through Plus, everyone's backlog... Who even has time then to play stupid demo's?
It's not 2007. Sony really is insufferable lately
Honestly, I think something like Steams 2-hour refund policy is a better way to do it.
This seems like a odd thing. Steam demos seem to help developers sell more. If your game sucks and you think a 2 hour demo will hurt your sales, make a better game
Honestly I think this is a big hook. If I play for 2 hours and want to continue I will buy the game.
@Perturbator seems like more work… what is the difference?
@Rob_230 thank you!
Sounds very wasteful of resources, both drive space and electricity, just for a 2 hour demo of a game you might not even like.
Plus won't it mess with the stats they get from the trophies as with some games you get a trophy for practically just loading up the game.
This seems shady as heck... monetize the demos by locking them behind a paywall but not share the revenue with the game publishers? ...
So if the required trials aren't made in the 3 months then what, Sony will punish them? Maybe the Devs won't want to make these games anymore for PS5, if Sony forces them by saying required!
Maybe I am wrong.
Why would these publishers get paid for what's basically a refund of a game? Steam does the same thing and developers dont seem to care.
@AdamNovice He's just overreacting 😂
Seriously though, seems like Sony is messing up a lot this gen so far.
This has to be the worse idea Sony ever had
This seems overly exaggerated as being a problem to me, and more like companies worried they can no longer slack off and release broken games with no financial repurcussions.
It applies only to new games that hit a certain wholesale price point. It can literally work by allowing the game to be fully downloaded, and a timed trial like ea play.
It's interesting to note the specific comment about it sometimes harming their sales. Good!! This will now mean that game releases can either be fit for use on day 1 and people would be more likely to purchase it, if the game is complete. If they choose to deliver a busted incomplete game, its absolutely their fault for doing so.
This will only be a good thing. The ones who will possibly lose out are the ones who have business models that allow broken incomplete games to be released and fixed over the course of the next year, or those who make games, laud them as being super fun, and they're actually really poor.
Seems like devs/publishers would have the option to opt out of PS+ in the first place instead of getting themselves into a bad contractual agreement. Big publishers would have lawyers reviewing the contracts before signing and now small devs should at least be aware of the requirement and be able to decide for themselves if they’re willing to go the extra mile and make a trial for their game. If it’s not worth it for the devs, then they should opt out of PS+.
A lot of people seem to be missing the point: sony is monetizing this. I am sure there will be some lawsuits following if they either dont work out a way to share the revenue generated by this with the publishers, or if the whole demo thing simply becomes a free platform perk.
Who cares about demos? I never played them when they were available to me. Its one step closer to falling behind under the reign of dictator Ryan.
Well that was an unforced error now wasn't it? I can understand some devs will not be very happy about this. Imagine if Atlus has to do this with an RPG. Two hours will literally tell you nothing on if your interested or not. Strange choice and even stranger lack of communication.
@feral1975 Good thing there is an option not to download and play the demo, right?
It still sounds like a great deal for me. I'll pay premium for the legacy library. Trials will be a nice bonus. Although fair enough, maybe that should be something that's available to all tiers.
At least this doesn't seem like it will apply to the vast majority of indie devs. Mainly it will be AA and AAA. They absolutely have the resources to comply with this.
Forcing that lot to be a little more consumer friendly doesn't seem like a bad thing at all.
It puzzles me that there doesn't seem to be a financial incentive though. In fact, I was convinced the reason trials were locked behind premium is because Sony would be paying the publishers a cut for the trials.
@get2sammyb Absolutely that's the reason we don't know the lineup of games yet. Some of us have been speculating this for months. What if they promise a bunch of games and a third party pulls the plug on them before launch? The internet would scream, "Sony lied to us!"
It would be nice to see what's currently set in stone though.
This was a terrible move from Sony.
No one asked for demos/trials and they are demanding something from devs that are of Sony's interest alone (to give some value to their service).
I believe that this situation may put away some developers and this is bad for PS fans since may lower the number of titles available.
Might as well hire Donald Drumpf to the PR team.
@Blackmagehobbit Steam gives you 2 hours to play every single game on their platform and you can request a refund and they have more games than Playstation. If you think this is going to impact games on the platform you're delusional.
getting really old now the site seems to be very negative against anything they do!! Bet the facts of this story are very different as well.
Sony want to charge for demos & publishers want to be paid for them take me back to the good old days when everyone wasn't so greedy
@TraCuz- same love my playstation but Sony are really starting to p*** me off with their s*** I have no interest in gamepass but Xbox backwards compatibility is very appealing to me & my one S doesn't sound like a jet engine like my PS4 pro does
@BoldAndBrash I like demos the re7 demo was great & really got me hyped for the game
Let's put it this way if cyberpunk had this two hour demo/trial then it wouldn't of sold 17 million copies, but at the same time wouldn't of conned 17 million people either.
It may make some of the big gaming studios release a polished game once people can try before they buy.
This is good news for consumers but yeah this is definitely going to irritate some developers, but that is their problem to worry about.
@PenguinL Because if the game is bad, gamers won't buy it, like with baland wonderworld demo lol. On the other hand, good demo will make gamers buy the games, like with nier automata or kirby switch demo.
I honestly fail to see what the problem is, most studios have a demo build for presentations and stuff like that, it will cost them almost nothing to release said demo.
@get2sammyb this has been my thought for awhile now. I'm sure a lot of 3rd party games aren't set in stone yet so they have to hold back info till ready. We may not see the lineup of these games until it launches.
@get2sammyb Pinch of salt Sammy (given its twitter), but have you seen the update shared by Nibellion on Twitter that suggests that apparently the Playstation store team will curate the trials themselves?
@Rob_230 Oh what do you know Sammy and the rest of the clowns on this site overreacted from a rumor with little information!
For people that don't want to open the link Sony has a team that will curate the 2 hour trials FOR developers, no added resources needed for devs. Also it hasn't even been announced for 3rd party partners yet. It sounds basically like the 2 hour refund system Steam has, except you'll be stopped from playing the game at 2 hours and given the option to buy it.
Poor old Sony just can't catch a break at the minute. They've got a great product and some excellent studios but they're ran by f****** idiots 😆
@Akila_24 More work? I don't see how, it just means you can try anything for 2 hours and get a full refund if you don't want it. Essentially it means you can demo any game, and the devs don't have to make a separate demo.
@TraCuz- yeah, it’s sad seeing this happen.
This generation my PS5 is just for their exclusives. I play all Multiplayer and Third Party games on Xbox.
Why? Because they didn’t mess me about with upgrades between generations. I just bought one game disc and it gave me both Xbox generations of that game. I didn’t have to buy a PS4 and PS5 disc separately (or risk there being no upgrade).
Also, I bought Game Pass Ultimate for three years stacking Gold Live and upgrading all the months for £1. Easy upgrades for subs is something Xbox allows but Sony doesn’t.
Things like this article and their handling of things of late don’t make me regret that decision.
I still love my PlayStation 5, but last gen it was the other way around. My PS4 was my go to console for everything except Xbox and Nintendo exclusives.
What a mess this is looking. Some games are only 6 hours developers aren't going to give 2 hours away for free!
Just add this to the ever growing list of Sony cock-ups and own-goals. To be honest, it's like watching a slow motion implosion... My guess - Sony have just jumped the shark with this one.
Edit - the more I think of this... this is a monumentally stupid thing to do. They are going to screw over every large developer to create a niche PS+ tier that almost no one wants.... and don't even work with or compensate the publishers for their efforts. I am seriously thinking now of going X Box before Sony fully starts sinking.
@Dpishere how is this good news for consumers? Only those that purchase the highest tier on PS+ you mean... So the entire industry has to give away 2 hours of their products to support what could be about 2% of the console install base? Yeh... makes a lot of sense. What would have been good for consumers is to offer a 2 hours money back guarantee (hell even a 1 hour would have been ok) - or at least make sure that the publisher/developers were on board. It''s also not good for consumers to see their console provider self-implode (which is what we're watching Sony doing in slow-mo)
@MemSec the difference between the GamePass model and that proposed by Sony is that Game Pass is opt in... no one is forcing anyone onto Game Pass. Sony is literally forcing all devs of games over a certain price point to participate or not sell on their platform... for a very thin slice of the user base (on premium tier). On Game Pass, developers actually get paid to have their games on GP... and it seems generously so. Here, Sony gives the devs nothing. The other issue is that a 2 hour time limit doesn't necessarily give you enough time to really see if you like a game. I can tell you I was pretty pissed off at the first 2 hours of HFW... whereas GamePass model is that you get into a game - not complete it - and therefore have to buy it to finish it (is my guess at least).
@Oz_Momotaro Are you seriously this worked up over ***** 2 hour trials of games? You realize Steam basically does the same thing except you have to pay first and then you can refund the game if you don't play it for more than 2 hours. If you had any brains you'd look at the comments and see that someone clarified that the developers/publishers have to do nothing. Playstation will curate the trials for games for them, also it hasn't even been announced to 3rd party publishers yet so they probably have the option of opting out. Either way there's no downside here, it sounds like it's basically going to work similar to Steam refunds except here you don't pay upfront and you'll be notified when your 2 hours is up. Some of you act like the world is ending over the dumbest things. Sony's put out a pretty great lineup so far and all you guys do is whine over the minuscule things.
They will never beat gamepass which will in the end win the war for Microsoft its unbelievable value. In a world where bills are going up, food is going up people can't afford £70 for new games. Exclusives on day one including in gamepass is amazing
Blame Jim Ryan.
@mucc so random tweet means all is good. You're a legend.
I’m confused…so the game trails are for every single game that’s over £35 on the PS4/5…or for games that are specifically got for the service? As sometimes it reads differently.
If it’s for every game then it’s definitely good for us gamers…whilst it lasts. But devs not seeing a penny for building up their premium service…that’s going to be interesting to watch play out.
There’s so many unknowns with this… like will ps5 versions of these game trails actually be on the service?
Also, it’s always a shame when I read psvr titles won’t be included in their subs. I guess it makes sense when most are so short and lean more on ‘experiences’…although I was hoping that’s psvr2 games would be offering a lot more standard game length play throughs and less of the ‘experiences’
A huge win for gamers, a huge loose for copy/paste developers.
Welcome to the era of 100 minutes unskipable intros. 😀😀😀
I still don’t understand how demos and time trials are supposed to decrease a game’s sales and yet we’re told that including a game on GamePass for a limited time increases a game’s sales.
Having a game for a limited time on a streaming service is loosely like a glorified demo. Smaller games apparently want the increased exposure of playing for free, then if you don’t finish the game before it gets yanked, or if you like it enough to play it again, then you buy it.
Methinks one of these two principles is incorrect — Either time trials help promote a game to sell more, or GamePass doesn’t help games sell more.
I'm shocked Sony did not think of a proprietary way to time the gameplay to the trial hours and is actually expecting developers and publishers to do this work while Sony keeps the income all for itself... This is really madness.
Recent updates from developers suggest, that there is no extra dev time required from them, Sony themselves make the timed trial available.
Also my argument was solely based on the ability of boosting individual game sales. I simply can’t accept it, that a 2 hour trial where you don’t like the game leads to a lost sale - while concerning the same game, with potentially more “free” game time, will somehow boost game sales if you can’t complete it. If I don’t like a game after 2 hours, I’m not only not buying, I also won’t play it any longer. Also it seems 2 hours are the minimum, but the timeframe can be extended if necessary.
I believe devs and publishers absolutely should be forced to provide the trials. Either that or Sony should do what steam does and allow refunds if you played a game less than 2 hours. This isn't about making money off the demo somehow, which is obviously all publishers think about...this is ensuring that you can't release a broken experience and get away with it anymore.
@MemSec I agree that the default trial is simply the first 2 hours of gameplay... but a lot of devs have intentionally slow beginnings (my comment on HFW) or they switch the game up. To be honest, I believe the line that trials lead to lower sales relates mostly to smaller indie devs than big AAA games - whereas a lot of the indie devs love GamePass. I think for them the extra exposure is worth it... and yes, that may be true also for the Sony offering too. I do think there is a chance that people fall into the trap of just sampling games (rather than jumping into them fully). I know I've got a backlog of games up the whazzoo and I constantly feel the desire to jump out of games and try something new... And don't get me wrong - I do think there should be the opportunity to test drive games and to avoid stinkers, however, I also think that Sony forcing devs to give up 2 hours of their content without compensation is not right either - or locking it behind a premium paywall.
@Phelaidar the did - and they do - they trialled this a few months ago in some European territories. I think the problem them had with this was the time limit included download time (from memory).
Of course let’s try spin games trial into negativity because why not?
Some devs are not happy. Damn you Sony haha
I get your point. But just playing devils advocate here: why defend devs with predatory tactics, taking advantage of impulse purchases, not providing a product worthy of your money? I’m sure devs with a good product don’t have to fear much.
Also the ability to try games before purchase (if it’s a good product) rather increases sales because of a larger sampling size. I’m sure anyone who after trying and not buying the game would never have purchased it blind.
Just my thoughts.
@thefourfoldroot That would be true if demos are a good indicator of the quality of the game, but that's often not true.
I've played plenty of demos where the game seemed rubbish, only for it to turn out to be good at release. It can be hard to fit big complex games into a short demo. Either you make the demo a tutorial (which is boring) or you throw a pile of mechanics at the player which haven't been introduced.
This is especially true if it's just the first 2 hours! Imagine if you played the first two hours of Persona 5. You wouldn't even have reached a proper combat section!
If they don't like it then they can reduce their prices below £34/$34 👀
@MemSec I get the anti-dev feeling, but don't forget that those "devs" and publishers are the fronts for normal joes/joannes that are just doing their job. Whether they still get paid or not, it's also about respecting their work. As I keep saying - where else in the world would we ask/require someone to give away your product for free (even limited time). In many cases it makes great business to do so - but it should be an opportunity, not a requirement. If a requirement, then it should be part of the console e-shop pricing plan. There's no evidence that this is the case.
Yes a lot of big devs are asking us to pay a lot of money for crap (and then charging us for MTX as well) but that's a different argument. We should be able to fairly assess what we're buying (aka test drive) - but I just don't like this idea that we're building an expectation that games should just be free (one of my complaints with GP and the F2P model).
Edit - just to clarify, I think timed trials should be an industry standard and not hidden away behind a pay wall... but I think Sony (or MS) should also contribute some money to publishers/devs to pay for it... it may be that this is balanced by an increased take (on sale) but I think we need to accept value in what's being provided... to the people that are providing it (even if a lot of pubs are douches).
I remember they tried to blame demos for low sales and not that their game wasn't good.
There are many games I have played less than 2 hours after purchasing them so I think with these trials there’s a high chance they will actually hurt sales
@RBMango if its like EA Play on xbox the time trial starts once you boot the game up and only reduces when you play that game.
My point is that it's very wasteful so many people downloading the whole game, for 2 hours worth of content. It's better to just have a small section as a demo for those developers who want to do that.
Unfortunately it seems normal demos will cease to exist and so you will be forced to pay to demo a game, it's bad practice.
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