In a new feature, independent developer Lars Doucet writes
that his team's Defender's Quest
was criticized on popular Flash portal Kongregate, but once users got into the demo version, they became the biggest source of revenue.
"We started with Kongregate and immediately had our worst fears confirmed. The game's page was quickly flooded with flames and one star reviews. Our score was around 3.4 and dropping steadily, which means our work would soon be consigned to video game oblivion. Many players complained they had been tricked, and that demos were unwelcome on free game sites," writes Doucet.
Players reacted badly, but the team changed the game's description to clearly denote it as a demo -- and responded courteously to complaints.
"After a few days we cracked the four star barrier, and were featured on the front page," writes Doucet. "We're still getting the occasional one star hate comments (who doesn't?) lambasting us for being a demo, but the score climbed steadily. All of the metrics suggest Kongregate is overwhelmingly responsible for the majority of our total sales."
"After things settled down, we got many comments like, 'Glad you changed the description. I don't mind demos, I just wanna know what I'm getting up front,' as well as, 'I never
buy based on a demo, but I bought this.' So although our demo will never get a top rating, changing the context to manage expectations seems to have helped the perception," Doucet writes.
The full feature, in which he shares statistics for the game's sales
tied to events in its lifecycle, and much more, is live now on Gamasutra.