The return of shareware
'Try before you buy' software is making a comeback – and developers are seeing green.
June 18, 2003: 1:25 PM EDT
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Shareware didn't start in 1993, but it made a huge splash that year.
That's when id Software unleashed "Doom" on the world. Millions of people downloaded and enjoyed the free, abbreviated version of the game. Of those, roughly 160,000 called id to order the full version of the game, paying $40 plus shipping and handling. By the time Doom II rolled around the next year, though, retail distribution had taken over – and the game sold more than 2 million copies.
Fast-forward 10 years. Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry. As sales hit new records, so does the cost of developing a game. Retail space is tight – and typically reserved for major publishers like Electronic Arts (ERTS: Research, Estimates) and Take Two Software (TTWO: Research, Estimates). Perhaps as a result, shareware is making a quiet comeback - with small, independent publishers and developers putting out some of the industry's best titles.