I was part of the Alpha test, and as such, let me say that playing the Alpha completely changed my expectations of this game.
I was NOT expecting this to be a game I would want to purchase before playing the Alpha. While I am a L4D2 fanatic, I just didn’t feel all that excited about Evolve from reading descriptions and watching previews and trailers. I had serious doubts about gameplay balance and if people would play the monster well.
The Alpha flat out blew me away. However now you need to do that to people who never played the Alpha and are not excited about this game.
The main problem is that the subtlety of the gameplay just doesn’t doesn’t come across in gameplay videos. Unlike - say - a COD type game, or even L4D2, all you see in an Evolve video is the hunters jumping around and the monster slamming things and it looks like chaos with bright flashes of light. None of the wonderful subtleties of strategy and tactics come across, nor does the desperate plight of the monster trying to avoid the hunters and feed.
None of this CAN come across in a video. It just doesn’t work. I ran into this problem when I tried - within the limits of the NDA - to get across to my friends how great the gameplay is. I watched the E3 Gameplay video with them on YouTube and realized that they just didn’t get it. Heck, watching the E3 video the first time BEFORE I played the Alpha, I didn’t get it either. None of the brilliance of the game comes across watching a video of it.
In my opinion, you’re going to have a large group of gamers out there (many of my friends included) who would probably LOVE the game once they played it, but will never buy it because they don’t “get it”. The only way to “get it” is to actually play it and have the same wonderful epiphany moment I had. Most people aren’t going to commit $60 to a game unless they’re pretty sure it’s something they want to play.
In this day in age, unfortunately, devs don’t like to release demos anymore. Maybe they’re too much work, I don’t know. But I do strongly feel that you would get a substantially larger number of sales if you released a demo. The demo would not have to be any more than what you released for the Alpha. I think a demo would sell more copies of the game than any amount of advertising.
Please think about it.