To remind you:
Just downloaded it, gonna play later and report if there is anything to report. What interesting is, that Nintendo is surprisingly good with demos. They kinda only company that consistently does them.
Do you like demos? Would you prefer free trials? (difference is that demo specifically constructed, and trial is a full game but with some limitation) Are you using Steam refund system as substitute? Any particularly good demos you remember?
Rob’s article reminded me of a demo we played a lot in a computer club: “SiN”. It was just one multiplayer map, gameplay was kinda similar to then popular Quake II, but something grabbed our attention. I can’t find gameplay video from that specific level: it was pretty big and open city with skyscrapers. Game was futuristic, but way closer to our world, it was full of color, and it was, well, fresh. Not sure if it holds up or anything, but I don’t remember spending so much time and having so much fun with just a demo. Also, because of that I totally get why some games have just one map.
I love demos or shareware. I mostly played demos when I was younger and wanted to play computer games but had no money. The level offerings of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D were played a lot. Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, the Quakes. I would just run through the same 1 or 2 levels over and over and think nothing of it.
I guess I get why games don’t all have demos anymore, but I kind of wish they did. It seems like there have been a lot of nicely crafted demos recently, like ones that give you bonuses for the main game if you play them, or the unique Stanley Parable and Danganronpa V3 demos that are original content not found in the main game, to some extent.
I don’t think I could bring myself to use the Steam refund system that way, though. I used it for the first time this weekend and almost cried.
Demos were essential growing up, they were my only contact with games other than the infrequent purchase. I wish they were more common, i definitely enjoy playing demos specifically, noticing how they differ from the normal game and how the developers decided to cut off the player from the rest of the game.
The first Bioshock had a demo on Xbox 360 way back that let you play the opening portion of the game. It starts very strong to say the least, and I was completely enthralled even though I was a bit young to grasp the political complexities and undertones surrounding the city of Rapture’s creation. I used what little disposable income I had to purchase the game.
In the years since then Bioshock solidified its place as likely my favorite game of all time, and I am super thankful I had a chance to play that demo or else I might have never regarded it as anything more than another FPS game with nothing special to offer. Demos, and now Multiplayer betas which serve a similar function I guess, are really important for us as consumers who are engaged with an expensive and time-consuming hobby.
No one questions the importance and power of movie trailers, but for some reason the video game demo has fallen out of favor in recent years which is a shame. You can read all the reviews and watch all the twitch streams you want, but having a chance to get a hands-on demo of a game is completely invaluable.
I was playing more demos then I was younger too, but not only because there were more of them. Today, it have to be something very interesting for me to try a demo/free trial/open beta/etc. to justify spending time on it. Goes back to too much games, I think.
:) But you are a developer, right? I assume it is a different feeling for you. I returned 5 or 6 games since that program started. I’m not abusing it, I’m not trying to play 1:59 and then asking for refund, I never was buying something with idea of using this as a demo, but some games just don’t run well. *cough*PUBG*cough*
It’s great for checking for performance issues; I’ve had a few games over the years that I bought that just didn’t run, which I would definitely have returned.
But yeah, using it to try out a game and just return it if it’s not your style would be a bit much for me. Not as abusive as using the system to review-bomb, but developers see the refunds as subtraction amounts from their regular payments and it’s a little disheartening. Knowing that I am creating or increasing that number is heavy.
I used to love demos, but I don’t really pay attention to them anymore. I generally feel like they aren’t worth the time. If it’s a game I’m interested in, I’ll look up some gameplay footage to help me decide. If it’s something I know I want, I’m not going to waste time playing a demo when my progress isn’t going to carry over to the full version. If it isn’t something I already care about, then I’m not going to make time and HDD space for a demo, in order to potentially add to my already too long wishlist of games I don’t have the time or money to play.
I do make use of free trials every once in a while since they typically let you keep your saved progress should you decide to buy the full game, and I like pre-release betas that let you get a taste of the gameplay before the game is out and there’s a wealth of coverage.
I get it. But, anecdotally, I can say that I feel safe to buy something that I maybe not sure about, knowing that I can always get my money back. So, again, I’m not sure how it affects developers overall, but I heard opinion from some of them that it’s not that bad, and can actually bring more buyers.
Oh, I just remembered another story. It was demo for “Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul”, and it was huge for a demo! Starting location, first village and first big area, with at least a dozen quests, and they are lengthy in that game, depending on how you approach them (I was playing mostly stealthy). I’m saying “at least”, because I stopped playing it before it ended. Yeah! I was like, hey, guys, I get it, I like your game, I just don’t want to replay all this content then I buy full version!
I’m all over the place for demo appreciation. There have been so many terrible ones over the years that aren’t great representations or don’t give enough of a feel for the game to be helpful. Recently, I’ve had a string of demos that were either enjoyable or at lease helpful for making a purchase decision.
Bravely Default/Second - Both games had a demo that gave a side snippet of the game. There was enough there to get a feel for the systems at play and the game gave some mild boosts if you’d spent time in the demo so it didn’t feel like a waste of time.
Octopath Traveler - I wasn’t sure if I was up for yet another modern take on a 16bit RPG, but I like what they’re doing with combat. The story… I’m not exactly embracing, but it’s not the offensive flop I expected based on the opening minutes. Playing the demo results in an email being sent requesting feedback so it feels more like a beta experience than a demo.
Surge - The demo progress would have carried over, but an hour with that game convinced me I did not want a knockoff Soulsborne with a sci-fi twist saving me a chunk of change.
Etrian Odyssey - The demos for these games since EO:IV have carried directly over into the main game. Since I know I’m going to buy them, playing the demo means I can start while the game is still in the mail. Even if buying digitally, the demo acts as early access so I can fiddle around with my party a bit, make a game plan and have the team ready to dive into the second dungeon on release.
demos are good, especially on non-steam systems where i can’t just get a refund if the game turns out to be bad. i’ve been burned too much by spending money on games that suck to not want to try before i buy.
on steam refunds: indie games i tend not to get a refund if i don’t like them (cause it’s like $10 or whatever, fuck it) but AAA games i get refunds for for the pettiest of reasons and i feel no shame.
Demos were the junk food of my Xbox 360 gaming diet when I was a broke teenager. I could not say how many times I played through the demo for Just Cause or Stuntman: Ignition, but it was a ton. I poured hours into certain demos, testing their boundaries and perfecting runs through them to pass the time. I’m glad they’re on their way back to prominence.
I used to use demo’s all the time as a kid, then for years and years I never bothered with them. Oddly now, specifically with the Switch, I find myself trying them again. Only briefly though. Octopath I played for about 15 minutes I think, did the first couple of battles and decided I liked the aesthetic and battle system enough for it to go on the Watch List and very likely purchase when it comes out. There was another one as well, Puyo Puyo I think, that led me to buy immediately.
I hadn’t really thought about their rise and fall before this thread, but I am glad they are becoming more prominent.
Are demos becoming more prominent? I’m not sure about that. What I’m sure is, that almost every week there is a free trial of some game on Steam. Occasionally, on other systems too (that was one of the features of PS+, iirc). And that make sense: giving people chance to try before they buy is good, but company is not spending resources to produce a demo. Win-win, question mark.
I have a bit of a soft spot for demos, if only because there was a few months when I was a kid where my family had a Playstation but no games (that I was allowed to play) save for a few of those JamPack demo discs. I played the hell out of 15 minutes of Tomba! and like 9 holes of Hot Shots Golf though.
Nowadays, I do appreciate companies that put out demos but I don’t really go out of my way to check them out unless they’re for games I’m already interested in. And even then, the PS4 Marketplace doesn’t exactly make demos easy to find (as I found out when trying to locate the NieR: Automata demo at the beginning of the year) so I really only bother with them on my 3DS.
I love playing demos, with one giant caveat: ideally, they should be designed in a suitable context (depending on factors like the genre, the series the game belongs to, etc). Some genres, like multiplayer shooters, lend themselves really well to demos. Just slice off a map or two and figure out how to throw players into matches together, and boom, you have a great demo. Long, story-based or progression-based games like JRPGs take a lot more planning to really pull off.
My least favorite type of demos are the kind where they toss you into an area, display a prompt with a controller diagram, and then leave you to your own devices. I understand the urge to get players into the action, but sometimes you’re left with too many concepts to reasonably understand in a short gameplay session. This was my experience with the Tales of Berseria demo, for example, where I had no clue what I was doing and couldn’t truly engage with the mechanics that separate that game from its predecessors.
Square Enix, on the other hand, has honestly been killing it with demos these past few years. One of my favorites is the Bravely Second (3DS) demo, which acts as a sort of prologue/side story for the main game. It introduces the game’s setting and some of its side characters without subtracting or repeating events from the game itself. The best part is that it’s purely supplemental - if you happened to miss the demo, you’re not left wondering what the hell is going on (as is the case with FFXV and its companion movie, Kingsglaive). It can be bit of a buzzkill when you buy a brand new game and have to replay the content from the demo for an hour or two before you see anything new.
It’s a little unfortunate that demos are used more as a marketing tool than as a tool to help consumers make a purchase decision, but in any case, I’m glad that we still have them.
Personally, I really like what would be called “trials” under your nomenclature. I remember playing the first few hours of a JPRG on a PS1 demo disc and then being able to continue the file on the real game. That kind of thing was real cool back in the day.
Nowadays with the digital storefronts providing DRM, I don’t see as much harm in letting the player try some time-limited version of the full game, since the ability to pirate the game from that trial access is somewhat lessened. The reason demos went away in the first place is devs don’t want to have to waste the time preparing and maintaining a separate vertical slice of the game, and I can def understand their reasoning there.
I heard from an indie dev at a PAX panel that it’s generally a bad idea to put out a demo at launch, because there’s a significant group of people that will buy everything new just to try it out. If you put out a demo, those people will just download the demo and not give you money. Their advice was that if you really wanted to have a demo, to put it out a couple weeks after launch, which is something I see more than I used to, and is similar to having promotional free weekends that coincide with a sale and/or an upcoming big patch.
While I can certainly understand the downsides for developers, I remember really appreciating that every indie title in the xbla store in the 360 days had a demo. Were there a ton of titles where I played the demo and never paid for the game? Absolutely, but I think on balance there were a bunch of things I ended up buying that I wouldn’t have even given a second look without a demo.
Demos are excellent. A good multiplayer demo and friends, that’s months of fun. I also know that at least where I live, people would basically download the latest fifa demo and make their xbox into an arcade machine. Get those kids and their lunch money.