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Whatever happened to demos of games?

DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdooryou're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
edited May 2010 in Games and Technology
This is something I just thought of reading the thread about the dude wanting to buy Torchlight.

Torchlight is a game that has a demo. off the top of my head, the only other games I can think of, of recent times, that have had a demo have been Jedi Academy, Jedi Outcast, and...I think thas all I can think of.

is it just me, or are game developers just moving away wholesale from the idea of game demos.

I seem to remember when I was a younger gamer, everything had a demo, and they were usually *substantial* demos. The Deus Ex demo, everyone remember that? that was a seriously chunky bit of playtime.

Reviews are nice for games, but I find that nothing really sells a game to me like the opportunity to try the demo and see if it clicks with me. The way I see it, the best way, bar none, to decide on buying a game, is to be able to play it before buying it, and while the option is there to borrow from friends, thats not always possible if your real life friends are not all gamers (Like, no doubt, many of us here).

personally, I really liked the way every game used to have a demo that was released a couple months before the game itself, and I'm not entirely sure when the turning point was.

What do you guys think?

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Posts

  • PeewiPeewi Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Not every game has a demo, but I don't think anything has happened to demos. Recently I've had great fun with the Just Cause 2 demo.

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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    It might have something to do with the shitty state of the industry now, how everything is rushed because profit margins are so small because every blockbuster game has to have a multimillion dollar budget. Or how development schedules are so crammed now and rely so much on post-release patches that the demo version would be outdated pretty much as soon as it was released. Or it could be because as the sizes of games grow, the sizes of their demos grow as well, and not a lot of developers want to pay for the bandwidth required to host extremely large demos that don't guarantee a sale.

    I don't know why, but it sucks. I like demos because I don't really feel comfortable buying a $50-$60 game on day one with nothing other than reviews from "gaming journalists" who modify their scores based on how much ad revenue they get from the publisher.

    Games used to have not only demos, but multiple versions of the same demo. I remember old PC Gamer demo cds where one game demo would have an MS-DOS version, a Windows version, and an MMX version. Some game demos weren't even demos so much as they were benchmarks with mouselook (remember the various Qtests released over the years?).

    It's weird to me, because first we (as gamers I guess) realize we're losing manuals and we relent it, then we realize we're losing complete game releases (as in, games that don't nickel and dime us to death with DLC) and we lament it, then we realize we're losing control of ownership of our own games due to DRM and we relent it, and now we realize we're losing demos, and we're starting to relent it.

    What are we going to be lamenting five years from now?

  • Ratsult2Ratsult2 Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Demos are not going out of style. On the 360, there is a new demo every week. Last month there was a total of 7 demos. Most demos last about an hour. Some, especially ones that include multiplayer content, last for much longer.

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Thanks to the Internet, developers are able to release all sorts of videos about their games. Developer walkthroughs and such, while not the same as playing the game yourself, give lots of information in a way that wasn't available back when all your demos came on CDs and 3.5" floppies.

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  • LieberkuhnLieberkuhn __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    I thought open betas were basically modern-day demos.

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  • AJRAJR You took too long Now your candy's goneRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I’ve played demos/trial versions of just about every game I’ve bought recently. So reading through this thread is a little baffling to me.

  • elliotw2elliotw2 Registered User
    edited May 2010
    They moved over here: http://store.steampowered.com/freestuff/demos/

    (ooh rocket knight demo)

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  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    elliotw2 wrote: »
    They moved over here: http://store.steampowered.com/freestuff/demos/
    (ooh rocket knight demo)
    And then Steam is all like AHAHA YOU'RE EUROPEAN FUCK YOU. :?

  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    A lot of big, hyped games don't release demos anymore, or at least not until sometime after the release. Research found demos lower sales, presumably because people realise it isn't the most amazing game ever and decide they can skip it. With all the hype and no demo they'll just buy it while at hype fever pitch.

    Demos will always be around for games from small developers/publishers though

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  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    As a console gamer I am not used to demos at all, so if anything there are more demos now than there ever were. NES, Genesis, SNES, Gameboy, the best we had were in-store displays. Playstation had those Playstation Underground discs, I just had one that came with the console (that actually got a lot of play time!). PS2 had stuff like the MGS2 demo coming with ZOE, or Dragon Quest VIII demo, or FFXII demo, but they were rare.

    Now I can download DS demos through the Nintendo channel, and the 360 has a bunch of demos available all the time. Things have improved a lot.

    If there are less demos, it's probably because they require a lot more resources/disc space now. You want a demo to be impressive, so it's usually the early areas of the game which pack in the geometry and texturing to leave a good first impression. Personally I am averse to downloading a gig or two of data just for 5 minutes of playtime.
    Rami wrote: »
    A lot of big, hyped games don't release demos anymore, or at least not until sometime after the release. Research found demos lower sales, presumably because people realise it isn't the most amazing game ever and decide they can skip it. With all the hype and no demo they'll just buy it while at hype fever pitch.

    This makes sense too. Remember the FFXII demo that didn't have a good representation of the game at all? Remember the Viewtiful Joe 2 demo that erased people's memory cards? Ugh.

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  • thunderclumpthunderclump Registered User
    edited May 2010
    People are happy to preorder games if it gets them into a Beta I've noticed (SC2 is getting a hell of a lot of preorders on the back of this). What if by plonking down a £5 preorder you get a key to download the demo? I suppose the key issue here is that if people are prepared to pay for the demo, they probably won't be a new sale, so it defeats the purpose of the exercise.

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  • PeewiPeewi Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Glal wrote: »
    elliotw2 wrote: »
    They moved over here: http://store.steampowered.com/freestuff/demos/
    (ooh rocket knight demo)
    And then Steam is all like AHAHA YOU'RE EUROPEAN FUCK YOU. :?

    If you want the Rocket Knight demo, [URL="steam://install/19060"]click here[/URL]. Unfortunately the region lock on the full game can't be circumvented that easily.

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  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    You are my new favourite person. <3

  • SnareSnare Registered User
    edited May 2010
    I'd say there were definitely more demo's than there used to be. Still some companies do chose to not release demo's and It makes me feel that they know they're game isn't strong enough, and people will try the demo and not actually buy it.

    Also playing the skate demo before release was one of the worst things I've ever done, I totally played the shit out of it, and when the game finally came out, I was bored of it.

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Snare wrote: »
    I'd say there were definitely more demo's than there used to be. Still some companies do chose to not release demo's and It makes me feel that they know they're game isn't strong enough, and people will try the demo and not actually buy it.

    Also playing the skate demo before release was one of the worst things I've ever done, I totally played the shit out of it, and when the game finally came out, I was bored of it.

    wouldnt that make the demo a good idea then, since it made you realise that the game was going to bore you quickly?

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  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Dhalphir wrote: »
    Snare wrote: »
    I'd say there were definitely more demo's than there used to be. Still some companies do chose to not release demo's and It makes me feel that they know they're game isn't strong enough, and people will try the demo and not actually buy it.

    Also playing the skate demo before release was one of the worst things I've ever done, I totally played the shit out of it, and when the game finally came out, I was bored of it.

    wouldnt that make the demo a good idea then, since it made you realise that the game was going to bore you quickly?

    Good for him, bad for the company.

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  • SnareSnare Registered User
    edited May 2010
    urahonky wrote: »
    Dhalphir wrote: »
    Snare wrote: »
    I'd say there were definitely more demo's than there used to be. Still some companies do chose to not release demo's and It makes me feel that they know they're game isn't strong enough, and people will try the demo and not actually buy it.

    Also playing the skate demo before release was one of the worst things I've ever done, I totally played the shit out of it, and when the game finally came out, I was bored of it.

    wouldnt that make the demo a good idea then, since it made you realise that the game was going to bore you quickly?

    Good for him, bad for the company.

    Precisely, why would they put people off buying their game on a whim? I think bringing out a demo shows confidence and I respect companies more for doing it. Giving the consumer a choice whether they want to spend their hard earned money on their game is a brilliant thing.

    Then again there are plenty of games that don't need demos and are still awesome.

  • JucJuc Registered User
    edited May 2010
    they're often time consuming / expensive , and don't always have a sales benefit, at least for the big blockbuster games.

  • Jam WarriorJam Warrior Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I'd imagine the optimum time to release a demo is a while after release when sales are quieting down anyway. You might hook a few more people in but don't risk harming sales on those who were already decided to buy it on release.

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  • Racist JokeRacist Joke Registered User
    edited May 2010
    I actually remember reading about recently that EA I think (don't quote me, I think it was them), was thinking of releasing longer demos for games, but you had to pay like 5-10 bucks for it. I don't know if they are actually going to do it, but just think about that for a second.

    I guess they figured that if the demo doesn't sell them on the game, at least they get some money out of it.

    Edit: Found it

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  • JucJuc Registered User
    edited May 2010
    I actually remember reading about recently that EA I think (don't quote me, I think it was them), was thinking of releasing longer demos for games, but you had to pay like 5-10 bucks for it. I don't know if they are actually going to do it, but just think about that for a second.

    I guess they figured that if the demo doesn't sell them on the game, at least they get some money out of it.

    Edit: Found it

    I think those are more along the lines of small games than big demos.

    if the small game sells they'd find the budget to make a big game with it (which can be pretty expensive), if the small game doesn't sell well, the idea dies and they don't make anything more with it.

    Think of it kind of along the lines of making a conscious decision to make games like portal, and then saying if their portals sell, they'll make half-life sized games based upon it.

    actually I think that's what valve did with portal now that I think of it, although I still have to see just how long portal 2 really is.

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