Culture

Never Underestimate the Power of Video Game Demos

Dishonored 2

Remember when video game demos used to come on discs? I mean, I bet I spent more time playing that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 demo than I did the actual game.

But the rise of online gaming has brought demos into a new realm. These new demos are, by and large, entire games you can explore for a few hours (in the case of Tom Clancy’s The Division or Watchdogs 2), or a meaty helping of missions pulled straight from the game (in the case of Mafia 3 or Dishonored 2). If you can coordinate your demo time with the weekly discounts on your favorite gaming console, then you’re really in business.

I recently played Mafia 3, and I’m currently playing The Division. Dishonored 2 is next on deck.

And I must say, given the chance actually play Mafia 3, I found my skepticism fading fast. I was sucked into the story right away, impressed with the character interactions and enthralled by that that setting. I was on the verge of picking it up for a mere $30 on PSN, but I missed the sale by a few hours.

Mafia 3

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a year old now. Even though I played the beta back in the day, I found myself enjoying the demo quite a bit — even after having spent a bunch of time with the more recent Ghost Recon: Wildlands. I thought for sure I would be bored or even frustrated with the bullet sponge enemies, but I actually had a blast. I even played a little co-op.

I am absolutely looking forward to Dishonored 2. I loved the original, but I just didn’t have the time to justify picking up the sequel when it released. I imagine this was a pretty common way to feel about Dishonored 2, considering it sold rather poorly for a sequel of this caliber. To make amends, I will definitely pick it up if the demo can prove it’s worth the investment.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Why should reviewers and preview event attendees be the only ones that get to go hands-on with big-name games before they hit store shelves? The purpose of a demo is to give you a taste. And if that taste is palatable enough, you’ll be encouraged to plunk down your $60 and go all in.

Dishonored 2

If your game is great and has nothing to hide, put your money where your mouth is and let us try the thing. I guarantee you, demos can work wonders that no amount of rave reviews can muster. Demos can give players the chance to realize they quite like your game, even in the face of mediocre review scores. Not everyone is a critic, and non-critics might be more likely to forgive some rough edges if your game is fun or speaks to players as individuals.

You just need to show a little faith in your product.