How NOT to do a game demo

Ok, so I’m just a simple game player and not “in the industry”, but I hope no one minds if I make a few simple suggestions. I’m really enjoying the fact that I can download demos on my XBOX 360, but I’ve noticed a few interesting “trends” that I hope will die out soon. In no particular order, here they are:

“One Game” Demos
Culprit: Full Auto
Full Auto is a pretty stinky game, which is why I’m happy I was able to play the demo first, but my six year old loves it, so he plays it every now and then. However, as soon as you end the race, the demo ends. If you want to race again, you have to relaunch the demo. Now, I figured this out quickly enough and I just abort the race right before the end, but what is the logic here? Maybe the publisher realized that if the customer played for too long they would realize how quickly the game sucked. Don’t worry guys, I saw it in one play. But still - if you are only allowing the player to do one race, why not let them do it as much as they want?

“It was a cool movie the first time” demo
Culprit: Quake
Wow, that opening movie for Quake is cool. I mean really cool. What isn’t so cool? The fact that it is five minutes long and you can’t skip it. I thought the game was cool, but I haven’t played the demo again since I found out I couldn’t skip the five minute intro movie. Yes. 5 minutes. No, I didn’t time it, but if it isn’t 5 minutes than it’s somewhere close. I get the idea of preventing someone from accidentally skipping a cool movie, but are you telling me there was no way to code a simple prompt? “Are you sure you want to skip this cool FMV? Our artists spent weeks on it!”

Ads you can’t skip
Ok, so I don’t think I’ve seen an example of this yet on the 360, but I’ve seen demos like this before. You go to quit and are presented with an ad screen “Full game coming soon! More levels! More cowbell!” which is fine and all, until you try to get rid of it and discover you can’t for a certain period of time. Um… correct me if I’m wrong, but I just played your demo. I’ve been exposed to the advertising. Do I really need to be forced to sit through more? Yeah, that is really going to encourage me to buy your product.

Can folks think of some other examples? I think game publishers have forgotten that we are the ones who took the time to download the demo. Your job is to impress us - not annoy us.

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a developer advocate. He focuses on JavaScript, serverless and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support.

Lafayette, LA