Sunday, August 14, 2011

Game Demos

I've downloaded a few demos recently and have been thinking about how they shape the purchase decisions I may make with games.  Mostly it falls back to my cheap bastard frugal style and wanting to get the most gaming bang for my bucks.

Without dragging on for another paragraph, just what was demoed?


I've heard about Limbo for awhile now, but have only recently been fired up about it after learning it was coming to Steam/PC.  I've played about 30 minutes of the demo and know it's definitely going to be a purchase at some point.  The game is a great little platformer and is creepy as hell.


 I happened to notice EDGE on the front page of Steam yesterday and decided to give it a whirl.  Being it's from Two Tribes who made Toki Tori, it piqued my interest.  I've only played through maybe 5 or 6 levels, but I think it will definitely be on my purchase list.  The game loads well, has some crisp graphics and is really fun.  It reminds me of the old Marble Madness game I used to play on the NES, though only with a cube.


I demoed Eufloria on Steam over a year and a half ago and this is one case where it helped me determine that I couldn't justify the price.  The game is pretty interesting and between the screensaver-like graphics and soothing atmospheric sound, it can deliver a unique and relaxing experience.  Though for $20 (at the time) it wasn't worth it and basically turned me away from future purchases during Steam sales.  I think it got down to $5 during this past sale, but I had to pass again with all the other games considered.


Sigh, I know, the download service on the Wii that we're all disappointed with in some way.  I'll try stay off my soapbox, but will say that overall I'm pleased that we are getting some WiiWare demos.  Some of those games are such a mixed bag of uh, questionable fecal matter, that I think demos are very important.  (even more so that the prices are generally higher than PC/Steam and there are never sales!!)

So what's the problem?  Well, the selection of demos is limited and they are only offered for a certain period of time.  I guess I'm supposed to watch for Nintendo news and access the shop channel on a regular basis to make sure I don't miss the demo?  What if I'm not interested in a game until later down the road?  Yep, there's the rub.

Certainly a welcome addition, but it's another clear sign that Nintendo just isn't in tune with the rest of the world.  So for now when I happen to see some news or have the shop channel up I'll see if there are any new demos and download all of them to a SD Card for future use.  (it does seem that if you download the demo you can still access it later on even if they remove it from the shop channel.  Just view your history)

BitTrip Series:

 I think I've downloaded about 5 of the BitTrip game demos on WiiWare and have messed with them a bit.  This is another area where I think demos have helped as I have a lot of respect for Gaijin games, but just can't get into most of the Bit games.  I'm not a huge fan of beat/music type of games and unfortunately that seems to be most of the series.  Although the one exception is BitTrip Runner which I picked up during the recent steam summer sale and am really enjoying it.


Another demo which I thought was very good, but haven't purchased yet.  I really like the water concept and it's a perfect use of the WiiMote without feeling forced or really gimmicky.


Overall I'm in favor of demos and usually attempt some due diligence demoing prior to purchase.  Though, I've been pondering if demoing has lead to me holding off on purchases until a later date when the game has a deep discount.  Has the demo satisfied my curiosity and excitement for a new game?  Well, maybe to a degree.  The other factor is a large selection of backlogged games which I'm not doing a very good job at completing.  Sure the game is cool, but do I really need it now or should I just go and try to finish the other 45 sitting out there?  There's no urgency and plenty of time to pick it up during a sale.

I never had a chance to demo SuperMeatBoy, but I very much doubt I would have held off.  Though I did demo VVVVVV briefly and immediately knew that it needed to be purchased at the full $4.99 price.  I didn't care that I missed the 10% off pre-purchase or anything else.

Do you usually try to demo games or do you stick to reviews and videos more often?  Do you think demos help with purchases?


  1. My son actually does more demos than I do. He is always grabbing them to try and in his case it makes good sense. He usually has a pretty strict budget because of his allowance, and he might in fact come away liking several games, but after pitting them against one another, he can decides which one he liked best. He almost never winds up regretting a purchase.

    Me? I should probably demo more. Most of the time I find redeeming qualities to the games I grab, but there are definitely a few titles I might have avoided if I had tried them first.

    Good list of things you tried out - I really enjoyed Limbo when I got it for the 360 awhile back. The only demo I'm pondering right now is the Madden one, but mostly because a buddy at work really likes it and wants my thoughts on it. Thing is, I know I'm buying it already, so I am not too worried about the demo myself.

  2. I think demos are as important in letting people know they DONT want a game as much as convincing them to buy it.

    If someone buys a game and hates it, word of mouth is going to be pretty scathing. If they demo it, it's less likely they'll try and dissuade others from buying (or at least trying) the game themselves.

    Lose one sale, save potentially 10 more. It's only a good thing.

  3. @Chalgyr: That's pretty cool that he puts the effort into demoing to ensure he doesn't regret a purchase.

    I think that rolls right into GamesAndBiz's comment as well regarding the scathing reviews. Beyond the typical 'this game blows' troll comments, I agree that people are more willing to be level headed about a game if they haven't put any money into it. Maybe they just pass along their thoughts on why they didn't care for it and move on without incident.

  4. "Do you usually try to demo games or do you stick to reviews and videos more often? Do you think demos help with purchases?"

    I have tried a handful of demos this generation, but I don't find myself going out of my way for demos, unless it's a game I've heard something about usually.

    The last game I can recall that I purchased because of a demo is Monster Hunter Tri, and before that Mercenaries.
    I played the demo for the WiiWare game Fish'em All and the same week saw a giveaway for it, and signed up and won a copy.

    So, from my own personal experience, I do believe demos help with purchases, and in the case of Monster Hunter Tri, it caused me to not get another game.

  5. As a sort of interesting side-topic, my wife and I were talking about how much easier it is to make 'informed' gaming purchases now. I remember when I was a kid, you have Nintendo Power, Gamepro, Electronic Gaming Monthly as your only resources to try and find out if a game was any good, and even then those reviews came out after the game was out for a bit, and is a single person's opinion.

    Now we have various websites, blogs, comments on 'professional' review sites, trailers and demos - and I think it makes the developers work a bit harder on their titles.

  6. For better or worse you're right, we're so plugged in these days with information. I do remember those Nintendo Power mags and at times calling the tip line for help. :)

    Seems that if it wasn't in one of those select magazines or you didn't get some good word of mouth via friends or the schoolyard, you were rolling the dice...

    (sorry for the reply lag. good to be home)