To Demo Or Not To Demo? That Is The Question…

Modern Warfare 2

I had been meaning to write a piece on demos and then the guys from Epic Battle Axe discussed it on their weekly podcast so I thought I’d better pull my finger out and get on with it!

Infinity Ward’s decision not to release a demo before launch for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 struck me as odd – I’m usually very suspicious of a game that doesn’t have a demo.

Got something to hide? Just not quite as good as everyone thinks? (Hi Prototype :smile:)

For sure Modern Warfare 2 probably doesn’t need a demo pre-release of the game with the hype it’s had but in most cases a lack of demo is often a sign of a weak game.

PES 2010 DemoPES 2010 Demo: Unfinished

And sometimes even putting out a demo just makes things worse, especially as the demo is usually months old and sometimes not finished properly (hang your head in shame PES 2010).

But there is also a flip side to this argument. There have also been a few games where the demo just hasn’t done the game justice.

Take for example Batman: Arkham Asylum – one of my favourite games this year. The demo wasn’t great.

The makers were obviously trying to show off both the combat and stealth sections but for some reason taken out of the context of the game it didn’t really work.

Batman2Batman Arkham Asylum: Too good to fit into a demo?

I think some people were put off by that demo but hopefully the universally high review scores will have made them think again.

My good friend Hollow Snake always says he thought the Infamous demo had it right – give you all the powers and let you run riot.

Show what you could have if you get the game and stick with it. I can certainly see the logic but I’ve often wondered if that would overwhelm more casual gamers, who might be looking to get into a new title?

inFAMOUSinFAMOUS: The way a demo should be done?

I know of at least one person that couldn’t be bothered to even finish the demo as there were too many control instructions.

I often prefer games that give you the first level (or some of it) to play through, like Killzone 2 or Brutal Legend. (Having said that I think Brutal Legend’s demo is pretty misleading – making you think it’s a hack ‘n’ slash rather than an RTS game)

Either way I’m glad that we are now given a chance to easily access demos and I am firmly in favour of them. To be honest they have been one of the best things about the PSN for me.

So what do you think? Does a demo often do more harm than good? Should it be a grass roots beginning experience or an all out glorious spree of the game’s potential?

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1 Comment

  1. Another example of a demo with too many buttons to learn: “Mirror’s Edge”…. I think trying it out right after having finished “Infamous” made it only worse…
    I think for games that gradually give you a lot of new powers or moves during the game a demo can be a bit problematic. I think a commented game play video gives you a better impression of the game then.


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