Downloadable video game demos – Good or bad?

This weekend, my roommate, Rio, and I had the pleasure of downloading and trying the new demo for Mirror’s Edge. A video game demo is virtually a chapter or training mode that the video game company (Electronic Arts in this case) has developed.  Mirrors Edge is a ground-breaking new first-person game.  Though it is based on a first-person shooter engine, “running” is your main goal in the game.  After playing the demo, Rio and I both agreed that when the game comes out on Nov. 11, we are both definitely picking it up.

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, a few weeks ago Rio and I also tried the demo for the game Fracture. Fracture is a game that is centered around a terrain deformation system that allows your character to use the surrounding environment as a weapon. Fracture is developed by Lucas Arts, who I am a huge fan of, so I was really excited to try out the dynamics of the game.  Unfortunately,  even though the game possessed a unique idea and engine, when it came down to it the demo just did not work for me.  The engine was hard to control, and the perks of using the ground as a weapon did not live up to the games flaws.  Due to our disappointment in the demo, we both agreed that the game was a rental at best.

As the two stories above indicate, game demos can have both good or bad impressions.  I’m sure there are a number of people who played the demos mentioned above and disagree, but the overall consensus that I’ve seen on message board is that the Mirror’s Edge demo was positively received, and the Fracture demo was negatively received.  Even though demos are meant as a public relations tool to give the customer a chance to try the game and want more, they can sometimes backfire.

So, are video game demos good for a game or bad for a game?  When it comes down to it, I think for the company they are overall bad.  Even though there are lucky companies whose demos lead to big game sales, more often a demo disheartens many fans.  A demo essentially is a great tool for a customer; it lets them decide whether it is worth it to fork out $60 for a game.  But in most cases, it lets them know when a game is not worth the $60.  Overall, I think that a game demo is a great tool for customers and a most likely disastrous public relations tool for video game companies.

Please feel free to post your own thoughts on the video game demo system.  I would love to hear what other gamers think of the whole process.

UPDATE:  For some reason my last two blog posts were not published on the dates they were supposed to be.  I want to apologize to my readers for the inconvenience, I will make sure it does not happen again.

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