EA Sports today finally addressed the topic of an upcoming demo for Madden NFL 15 by telling Polygon there will be no demo at all. This is another in a line of traditional promotional steps that the company has deviated from with Madden 15 but certainly the one that will stand out above them all.
The demo has become a staple for annual sports games as a way to demonstrate improvements year-to-year that can be difficult to communicate particularly as consumers have become more skeptical about marketing claims. The idea that a company wouldn’t want their game played early creates suspicion – just like how movies that don’t screen to reviewers are usually being hidden for a reason – that they’re preventing it to avoid poor word of mouth.
While MLB: The Show was the first to really start skipping demos (MLB 10 and 12-14 have not had one) that series had a level of credibility with the hardcore crowd that most other sports games lack. The only others that have bypassed them have been the likes of MLB 2K13, games that respective companies knew were bad and hoped to steal some sales by preventing as many people from discovering that until after buying.
In recent years Madden demos have gone out two or even three weeks in advance of release. That has projected a certain confidence in the product which will be lacking this year due to this news. It doesn’t mean that the improvements to the game won’t be valuable and justify another purchase for many. However it will be absolutely fair for people to question why they aren’t allowed to determine that for themselves.
It would seem unlikely a coincidence that the decision to pass on producing a demo follows on the heels of the recently announced EA Access program. With that they don’t have to use resources to create a separate demo and they can essentially have consumers pay to try a game early. That’s if they’re on Xbox One of course. PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PS3 owners are out of luck completely. It’s especially scary for those on the last-generation who may not even get to see a single video or screenshot or have any idea on the feature set before release but it’s less than ideal for everyone.
Unfortunately this could be the start of a shift away from demos and to EA Access for all of the company’s games. The demand for the subscription service could increase due to this news and put additional pressure on Sony to offer it as well. They claim to have nixed it due to a misplaced and hypocritical stance that it doesn’t offer proper value to consumers. EA still refuses to clarify exactly when Madden will go up on Access and what if any time limit there will be on playing it.