The Death of the Demo – Megabits of Gaming Feature

The Death of The Demo – Posted 13/08/12 on Megabits of Gaming

I come from the era of video gamers who received demo discs with their monthly magazines. These discs always contained something new and exciting, and occasionally a little gem you perhaps had never heard of. There was a certain element of excitement as you knew something new was coming in the next issue of PlayStation magazine, and you were just itching to get your hands on the free discs contained within.

I still have many of my PS1 demo discs stored away somewhere. Why? Because these demos were so amazing, that I would play them for hours on end until I could afford to buy the full game. I remember playing the demos for Command & Conquer, Spider and some brightly coloured trippy game with a bouncing rabbit in it. These were a small piece of gaming glory that would leave you salivating for more. Playing a demo was like buying a small piece of cake, taking a bite and then running back to the buy the rest of it to experience its full flavor.

The glory days of the demo

The glory days of the demo

Unfortunately, this golden age appears to be coming to an end. The last few times I have picked up a gaming magazine I have been left disappointed. Sure, it’s had a disc and a little cheat book with it, but the contents of the disc really are nothing special. Within this thin circular container are a few trailers, perhaps some gamer avatars, oh and a demo for a game that’s been out for months. I feel both sad and robbed of my cash at this point. The excitement of the latest demo disc is gone, and replaced with the sloppy seconds of a game that apparently needs more promotion. It’s like the demo disc has turned into a cutting room floor compilation, housing whatever content could be put together at the last minute.

It’s not just the magazines that are failing to provide though. Even the Xbox Live Marketplace has considerably less frequent demo releases than it did before. There has also been a trend that has seen demos of games being released after the completed game has gone to store shelves. This feels like a very sneaky way for developers to boost sales and pique interest after release date, while frustrating those that bought the game blindly when it first came out.

This is what the world of demos has come to

This is what the world of demos has come to

It seems that only the most profitable games get a demo, while smaller games are left behind. Is no one making these little playable previews anymore? Do we really have to bury the demo and instead start a relationship with XBLA trials and just hope that each new release is going be mind-blowing? I for one am sick of paying £40 for a game I never got to play a preview of.

Duke Nukem and Deadly Premonition are just two examples that really could have done with allowing people to dip their toes into each world, and spare gamers a bit of cash. There are more than 300 downloadable demos available on the Xbox Marketplace, but this doesn’t really seem to be enough. Perhaps the world of gaming is too oversaturated with releases that creating a demo for every game would be nigh on impossible, but some form of attempt from the industry would be nice. Every film gets a trailer before it is released, so why is it that games don’t get demos anymore?

It feels like we have to rely on the opinions of website magazine previews in order to build our own judgment about new games. Gone are the days when we could do this for ourselves as a consumer.

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Plodding along

I disappeared again didn’t I? Well, I went back to my home town last week for a quick visit to the family before I started uni again. I was going to do a post on my top 5(ish) video game songs last week, but Firefox on windows decided it didn’t want to play YouTube videos, so that idea was out of the window. I hope to get that one posted within the next week now that I’m back on my Mac.

I suppose this is more of a ‘what have I been playing?’ update more than anything else because I’ve been away. So here goes;

I decided to download Final Fantasy VII on my PSP before I went away so I could play it on the train. I didn’t really end up playing it at all, but I did play it quite a bit before I went away. It’s weird that I first played that game 15 years ago, and now I can play it on the move. It was such a wonderful nostalgia trip for me, FFVII being my very first video game. I didn’t even play it while I way away though, I was too busy playing another one of my all time favourites;

Ahhh, blissful nostalgia

Ahhh, blissful nostalgia

The Sims 3. I’ve had all the Sims games, including their expansions since the beginning. I love them. I love playing God, I love creating Sims, and I love building massive houses that my Sims will never be able to afford unless I use the money cheat. Yes, I love The Sims. I probably spent a good couple of days playing through various different Sim families I had created, as well as spending hours on building mansions. I don’t have all the expansions for The Sims 3 yet, but that’s only because I haven’t been where my PC is in order to play it, and of course university (and the Xbox) is far more important and interesting.

There's nothing quite like a Sim family

There’s nothing quite like a Sim family

Aside from that, I’ve been playing Risen 2 Dark Waters for Megabits of Gaming, so my review of that should be up pretty soon. I won’t reveal anything about it on here, I shall only say that I did a 6 hour sessions today and although it was initially frustrating, I enjoyed it in the end. I shall also be re-posting some of my features I have written for them soon, so keep an eye out for them.

The only game I have on pre-order is, as mentioned before, Persona 4 Arena. Very much looking forward to that, and hoping that will arrive at the beginning of next week. As much as I want to pre-order Borderlands 2 I simply don’t have the money, nor would I have the time before starting university again properly.

Finally, I have been nominated for an award by Ninety Nine Percent Gaming which I’m pretty happy about, so thanks! Apparently I need to nominate 15 blogs that I admire, but I don’t really follow 15 blogs so I might need a bit of time before I get to that.

Until next time.