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Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Game Demos - Helpful or Harmful?
10:12 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Once a staple of the computer game industry, game demos have become less and less frequent as companies decide not to release them for a variety of complex reasons. Lately, however, the industry has been experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, as developers once again start to release more demos of their upcoming products.

3D Action Planet has recently posted an editorial, titled "The Art Of The Good Demo," that takes a closer look at the benefits and detriments that the release of a demo, particularly if it is released before the final product, can have on a game's success. While we don't often post editorials as news, this one raises enough interesting and well-informed points to be a worthwhile read.

The main argument seems to center around gamer's perceptions of a particular demo, and how releasing one can be a risk rather than a bonus. From a gamer's viewpoint, a demo is a way to judge whether or not a game is worthy of purchasing. However, this is not entirely fair, particularly if the demo is released during a game's development period, as many features and tweaks have yet to be finished for the final product. A good example of this is the demo for No One Lives Forever, a game that won many awards yet sold poorly, possibly because of its lackluster demo:

Who is going to buy a game when their PC could barely run the demo? Releasing that technology test may have enabled Monolith to ensure the full game ran well on PC’s all across the system spectrum, but it may also be partly responsible for the surprisingly low sales of a game that won many a magazine and websites ‘action game of the year’ award.
This trend still continues even now. Players just naturally tend to judge a title based solely on a demo of an unfinished build. Top-flight titles Red Faction and Aliens vs Predator 2 have recently released demos, each with varying responses:
Red Faction and Alien Vs Predator 2 have both released widely publicized demos, to varying response. That they’ve released demos, first of all, is something that developers should be thanked for. However the two single player demos for these games, have drummed up enough talk of "I’m not going to buy this, it suxors" and ‘This game rocks! I’m going to buy it!’ when looking objectively, they show very little of the games.
When gamers start posting negative comments about a demo, it's no wonder that many developers choose not to release demos of their own works-in-development. A demo can just as easily kill a game's sales as it can help them, regardless of the quality of the final build.

The rest of the editorial raises yet more interesting points, including the growing sizes of demos, the need of some developers to cut things out of demos to "save the best parts," and why multiplayer demos seem to be more successful. For the full article, be sure to check it out at 3D Action Planet, and feel free to share your thoughts in our forums!

Game Demos, Yea or Nay?
3DAction Planet - The Art of a Good Demo

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Archives  News  Game Demos - Helpful or Harmful?