[Discussion] Game Demos

8:17 am - 11/13/2012


Recently, Extra Credits discussed why there aren't more game demos available as there used to be and why "play before you buy" isn't always beneficial to game developers when it comes in the form of a demo. As always, I found the episode entertaining and informative, but some of the points made me a little curious as to whether or not they actually spell impending doom for all game demos.

How does everyone here feel about game demos? What are the differences to you between game demos on previous generation consoles and current generation consoles? (I still fondly remember looking forward to booting up the disc that came with every issue of Australian PlayStation Magazine.) Are there games you'd buy or have bought just because they came with a demo for a game you're looking forward to? Are there games you've bought that weren't even in your field of vision until you played the demo?

The three main demos I've played since buying my PS3 at New Year are Batman Arhkam City, Journey, and Resident Evil 6. Of those games I was turned off Batman, scooped up Journey instantly, and am still undecided on whether or not the gameplay of RE6 is for me (even though I love what I'm seeing when other people play it.) I'm also highly tempted to grab Zone of the Enders HD collection just for the Rising demo attached, but I think I'll wait that one out. Which game demos or even level samples/chapters have you downloaded or tried this year? Have you tried games out at game shows, and if so, has that altered your anticipation level for certain games?
glenngunnerzero 12th-Nov-2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
For games that I'm interested in, I always like to try a demo. If there's no demo I'll find a gameplay video for it, either Giantbomb's quicklook or hit a Youtube search. I only got Torchlight 2 as a demo that I later bought and that was because I was already interested in it all the demo did was make me buy it faster.
I think a more interesting way of doing a demo is Playstation's PS+ 1 hour trial of a game, where you play the game for 1 hour from the very beginning, or simply having a previous entry in the series available for free so people can know what this older game is and if they decide to check out newer ones they can find out what changes have occurred in the newest sequel.

I do remember getting excited for Official Playstation Magazine discs, and being in awe at the fact that we can play demos at home instead of at the store, but this was an archaic way of trial, with technology and the internet being as prevalent lately it really is an outdated method. I think for all the shit I give them for their online components, Sony actually does do video games justice with some interesting ways to try out games.

I forgot to mention games with a heavy focus on multiplayer can actually do free demos before releases with "Betas" that both test servers out with multiple players and allows people a chance to see what the game is like before you buy it.

Edited at 2012-11-12 11:39 pm (UTC)
nevermademe 12th-Nov-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
Demos are pretty useless to me, I think the video went over every experience I've had. 99% of the time I know whether I want a videogame or not way before I buy it. Either it's in a franchise I know or from a developer that I enjoy, OR, if it's a new face, they have an awesome marketing team and get positive scores from reviewers and friends.
I honestly can't remember a time when a demo has sold me or prevented me from getting a game. Maybe if I hadn't preordered RE6 the demo would have made me wait until the price went down (cause rly, even as someone who enjoyed RE5 despite it's flaws, I know RE6 is kinda shit), buuuut I didn't so I got it day one.
I do remember buying Dragon Quest VIII for the Final Fantasy XII demo though lololol.
tcs0 14th-Nov-2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Demos aren't completely useless. They give us a clue on how the games function. Consumer ignorance helps sell games but consumer awareness can too. Just listening to what people say about a demo or a beta helps developers make a better game.
nevermademe 14th-Nov-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
Demos are pretty useless to me. I already know how games function before I buy them and i'm not a developer so idc
ayashi 13th-Nov-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
I frequently play demos for xbox arcade games I am interested in. I would guess it's about 50/50 whether I've bought the game afterward? I find demos somewhat important though for games that I otherwise have not heard a lot about, but I think look cool from the art etc. In general if I've already heard great things or have been reading a lot about the game I would probably just shell out the money without bothering to download first.

The most recent demo I got for a really big title was the Mass Effect 3 demo. I wanted to play it because it was a game I was anticipating hugely and anything I could do to help my impatience to get the game in my hands was good. At that point I had already preordered it. :x
suedeheadspike 13th-Nov-2012 12:20 am (UTC)
I generally don't mess with demos too much, unless it's an XBLA game. I pretty much download the 'trial' for ALL XBLA games for some reason. I've ended up buying quite a few after getting hooked in those first 10 minutes of gameplay, come to think on it...
weber_dubois22 13th-Nov-2012 01:16 am (UTC)
I was never among those fortunate enough to get demos when they were a thing in the PS1/PS2 era days, but I played my brother's old PS1 Demos for Tomb Raider #1 and Madden NFL, and enjoyed both. The last demo we received was the one for Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater back in 2005 (or earlier) when I bought a PlayStation Magazine, and we loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, our PS2 went and died and I've blamed the demo ever since.

Given this particular era and how much they charge for games, I wish they would release demos. Albeit, I'll never have the problem of buying a overly expensive piece of junk (most people do that for me and I evaluate from a distance and decide then), but demos for next gen consoles should be a must given their price tags. No one wants to blow $60 dollars on a buggy piece of junk.
jonjonxd 13th-Nov-2012 02:06 am (UTC)
Game demos have done both for me.

I've discovered a lot of games where I would have not considered buying them without playing the demo. Valkyria Chronicles and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World are two prime examples of this.

I consider game demos to be interactive commercials. They should be designed to sell the product, not just give you a taste of it.

Gravity Rush's demo did just that, which is what got me to buy it on my Vita.

I feel like publishers are shooting themselves in the foot if they don't have a demo for their game. I also consider it to be arrogance. I feel like all that says is "Hey, our game is so great that you should just fork over $60 USD just because we think it's so great". That's just not a realistic proposition to me.

Gamers are very frugal, they even complain about $10-15USD games that will give them a few hours of game play....meanwhile they have no issue spending $15 USD on a movie or going out to eat, which provides less.

I feel like game demos are totally different compared to last generation. Every game should have a demo since the two major consoles are online geared. There is zero reason to not supply a demo for every game.
letalisfortuna 13th-Nov-2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
I think it depends on the game as to if the demo is going to help it or not. Sometimes taking a snap shot of a certain kind of game (say and RPG for instance) isn't helpful because games like that require a build up of narrative in addition to the game play to help you experience the entire game.

I will say this: I hated shooters for a long time and that had a lot to do with me just not being good at them, having a slow reaction time and most of them being poor in terms of story.

I played a demo of Bioshock and loved it, then I saw it on sale for $20 and snapped it up right away. Now, I'm not saying Bioshock is hard on its normal difficulty but for someone like me who barely plays those kinds of games, it was challenging enough until I got used to it and it also encouraged me to go back and play other games I had totally lost out on like Half-Life 2 and Portal. So in this case, a free demo opened me up to a whole genre of game I was missing previously.

The demo is powerful, but it needs to be approached carefully. In some ways, the demo needs to be treated as carefully as the game itself. The essence of the game has to be present in order to interest the gamer. In some cases, I would say a demo is impossible to produce and have it be faithful to the entire game.

Edited at 2012-11-13 06:52 pm (UTC)
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