Playable Video Game Demos
Playable video game demos can make or break someone’s opinion on a game. And although demos nowadays can only be acquired via an internet connection, it still makes up a decent percentage of a game’s sales. Demos have to do more than trailers, they have to be polished and play well. They have to leave us wanting more while showing us what to expect from the full game.
Rather than focus on a bad demo, I’ll focus on a demo that does it right. One demo that really sticks in my mind is the Bioshock demo. It was a great introduction to the world of Rapture since it was basically the beginning of the game. I feel like if the demo had just dropped me somewhere in the middle of the game with no context, I wouldn’t be as intrigued. Through the course of the 30 minute or so demo, it gives you two plasmids and two weapons to play around with and audio logs that help dilate the game’s intrigue even further. The Bioshock demo also ends like most comic books do, with a cliffhanger. Offering incentive for gamers to find out what happens next. The Bioshock demo does a great job showcasing it’s strengths while representing the experience one would have with the full game. Demos should showcase a games’s strongest aspects while offering a good representation of what to expect when playing the full game. If a demo fails in conveying either one of these goals, it will most likely end up being a bad demo.
Personally, I like demos. They offer me a chance to try out a game before I buy it. And although in some cases they do not represent the final product, it still carries a lot of weight in my purchasing decision. I think most games are too expensive and I wish more games had demos. And for game developers, I’m sure finishing the game on time is a higher priority than spending extra time working on a risky demo.