Whatever Happened To Video Game Demos?

Whatever Happened To Video Game Demos?

If you’ve been gaming for several decades, you may remember a time when video game demos were commonplace. In fact, every major developer would release a free demo before the launch of their new game. Such demos were often sold with gamer magazines or were available to download online.

Nowadays, you’ll almost never see a demo for a major video game release. Gamers no longer have the ability to try out lots of games for free. It’s a case of buying a game and hoping that you enjoy it.

Do video games still exist?

Demos aren’t completely dead. Many indie game developers still release demos as a way of promoting their games. When it comes to online casino, you’ll also find lots of free demo games designed to get people hooked without having to spend any money. There are lots of platforms in which you can find these demos.

Major video games however are rarely accompanied by a demo. Unless you’re attending a video game convention, you’re unlikely to be able to get a taster of a major game before it is released.

What happened to demos?

Video game developers stopped producing demos for a variety of reasons.

During a presentation at DICE 2013, it was suggested that demos of major video game releases were more likely to harm sales. While they helped gamers out by helping them determine whether a game was worth purchasing, they could possibly put off other gamers. This is because producing the perfect demo is a precarious balancing act – it needs to be action-packed enough to encourage gamers to buy the full version, but not so extensive that it satisfies a player enough that they don’t feel the need to buy it.

With the rise of the internet, demos also started to make piracy easier. Demos would often be protected in the same way as full games, which gave hackers a chance to decode the security features and work out weaknesses. Games like Resident Evil VII were heavily pirated as a result. The rise of piracy also made gamers less willing to play demos when they could wait and play full games for free (although this age of piracy seems to have faded now).

Is there still a need for demos?

While demos were once useful for gamers, you could argue that they’re less useful nowadays due to other schemes that are in place. Game streaming platforms like Steam allow gamers to return a purchase within two weeks providing that they have not played the game for more than two hours. This allows gamers to get a taste of games in the same way that a demo did.

It’s also possible to free full games in packages nowadays. These tend to be older games rather than newer games, but for players that are looking for ‘free games’ they can be a much more convenient and attractive option than restrictive demos.

1 Comment

  1. Gofang May 27, 2020

    For me it was the Steam return policy that really killed demos. Why waste time on a demo that you know might not be a good representation of the full game when you can download the full game and then get a refund if it is not what you expected. As long as you stay under 2 hours playtime Steam will refund any game you buy. This feature has saved me a lot of money.

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