We wrote an article, just a quick blurb really about how there would be no pre-release demo of Prototype. So people were disappointed by the fact that there would no demo because they wouldn’t get to play it, but more people we concerned with what the fact that they aren’t putting out a demo before the game’s release means. It’s obvious that people had a lot of opinions about this and we wanted to go deeper. This caused us to really analyze whether there has been any correlation to a demo being released and the game’s quality.
Is no demo a bad sign?
So what we have come up with is that there seems to be no real rhyme or reason and its hard to say whether not releasing a demo is a bad sign. There have been several games that were quite good that did not release a demo until much after it was out to continue or spur more sales. There are several examples where a good game did not have a demo and still turned out to be excellent. There are such notables as Metal Gear Solid 4, Resistance 2, and Little Big Planet just to name a few. Then there are lots of games that had demos, some of which were actually good and then they sucked plain and simple. A good example of a very good demo for a game that sucked was Overlord, the demo was fun to play the game though was one of the worst we have ever played.
Looking back over the last few months there doesn’t seem to be any real hard correlation, both good games and bad games have come out and some had demos and some didn’t. So what is the real question then? The real question for today’s gamers is no matter what the real reason behind a demo not coming out ( and there are some good ones), the question is what do gamers perceive that to mean. Sometimes as someone mentioned in a comment the development team is just up against the wall to finish the game and demo is an afterthought and I suppose that other times it really is the publishers not having a lot of confidence in the title and not wanting to open it up to a bashing before it launches. In looking at the responses that the other article got it seems that the overwhelming response from gamers is a negative one. Most gamers equate no demo to trying to keep something from them or the publisher not having confidence in the title. Whether gamers should really feel that way is irrelevant, but publishers need to be aware of this and take that into account when thinking about the timing of demos.
Another big thing that we have noticed though is that proven titles don’t get clobbered nearly at all. I mean there is going to be an open beta starting next week for the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves multiplayer that we will be all over but would gamers really give Naughty Dog crap if there wasn’t? Would gamers yell outrage if come later this year we don’t get a pre launch chance to try out the epic that will undoubtedly be God Of War 3, probably not because the folks at Sony have proven to us that well Kratos is the man. That really seems to be the difference, if you have proven yourself to gamers once they usually give you the benefit of the doubt the next time. So is it really that if you are a non-established title (i.e inFamous, Prototype, Batman: Arkham Asylum, etc..) then you MUST come out with a demo before launch to make gamers feel like you aren’t trying to hide anything?
And since we are at it, what’s up with CGI trailers versus in game trailers? Do gamers also take that as an indication that a game may not be as good as it looks and does that matter more or less than whether it has a demo or not? We ask this because just about all of Prototypes recent trailers for instance have been in game trailers, so what you see is what you get. Personally, I think that Prototype will be pretty good when all is said and done and if it isn’t we will be the first ones to tell you. As far as how we feel about it at ZKG, we seem to be split some of us think it means something and some of us don’t, what do you think?