I always thought having a demo/beta was better than not having one, but I’m starting to question that now after playing two 3DS demos back to back and reading the recent letters.
First up was Stella Glow, the demo took around 90 minutes to finish and unfortunately most of that time was spent watching (and listening) to some pretty dull dialogue. The game was OK, but the fantasy setting and gameplay failed to grab me, no sale for this title.
Up next was the Bravely Second demo, which if you are not aware is basically a self-contained game with its own world and story and not your usual slice of the main game with a predefined end. I’m close to putting eight hours into it and I still haven’t finished it (I reckon still another couple more hours to go).
After I got my head round its job system it’s a great title, but I think the developer took the demo idea too far. After 10 hours play I don’t feel I need to play the main game, I’ve had my fill Mr Square Enix, I’ll spend my cash elsewhere now. I’ve played and paid for many titles with equal or shorter running time than that.
All consumers have a right to try the product before they buy, but if you skip this in the game industry and just buy it, take it home and then realise you don’t like the look of it, returning it is much more difficult than if you had just bought a pair of jeans and returned them for the exact same reason, especially in the digital realm.
Maybe this is the part that needs to change, so that if a demo or beta doesn’t blow you away first time you still might be inclined to make that purchase knowing that if second time round you still feel the same then getting your cash back is a simple (guilt free) process.
GC: And that’s why most publishers don’t release demos anymore. (Not that you’re doing anything wrong, but experiences like this are exactly why they were stopped.)