The Courtroom: Should Developers Package Demos with Lesser Known Games?

With the release of Dragon’s Dogma yesterday (which Kirk Thornton did the voice direction for), it got me thinking about a topic I’ve had on my mind for a while: should moar developers package demos of highly anticipated games with lesser known titles? As you may well know (or not know), Dragon’s Dogma comes with a demo of Resident Evil 6. The RE franchise is well-known and popular franchise; many gamers will undoubtedly buy the next installment of an established franchise. Some players have purchased Dragon’s Dogma solely for the demo of RE6. This is a great strategy to sell copies of a game, but as I stated, should moar developers do this? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Obviously, the first pro would be that a lesser known title gets some serious press and buzz. It’s like a lesser athlete riding the coattails of a superior athlete, much like Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant (just kidding, I love Fish). Some games do not get proper media attention because they aren’t named Halo, Call of Duty, or Assassin’s Creed to name a few. There are a ton of great games out there that fly under the radar sometimes; I can name Valkyria Chronicles and Demon’s Souls as two such games. Imagine if moar players knew about these great games.  Wouldn’t it be better for the industry as a whole?

Dragon’s Dogma, by all accounts, is a great game. Even after one day of being released, reviews are favorable (skimming Amazon and the ever-reliable Metacritic). Getting a great game and a demo of a anticipated title is money well spent. Back in 2005, Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King was released. I had no idea what Dragon Quest was other than the characters looked like something out of Dragon Ball Z (to be fair, Final Fantasy was much moar popular in America than Dragon Quest).  But it came with the demo for Final Fantasy XII! I just had to pick this up! So at Christmas, my parents picked it up for me (ahhh the joys of being a young teen and still getting presents). Something strange happened though; I ended up loving Dragon Quest VIII.  By late January 2006, I had already played through DQVIII twice! Even when FFXII came out months later, I still loved DQVIII moar. It’s one of my favorite JRPG’s to this day.

However, some people look at this tactic as a cheap promotion or money grab. I got news for those people: it’s a demo.  You aren’t missing anything. I’ve always been a proponent that developers should make demos available so players won’t have to waste money on a product they don’t like. But they should do that when the game actually releases. These packaged demos are like sneak peak bonuses, much like pre-purchasing Guild Wars 2 will get you a 3 day head start when it comes out; you miss out on nothing because the real thing is coming out later. Some people love to get in on the early action. It doesn’t mean you have to too. And lastly, this is no different in terms of promotion than pre-order bonuses (Valve has been very successful in this regard, but part of me thinks that the TF2 community is too obsessed with hats).

There’s also the growing want for digital distribution. Although I personally want the industry to move that way (being a hardcore PC player, and I thank Nintendo for moving that way finally), it still has a long ways to go; there are simply too many obstacles right now. Not everyone has a fast (or reliable) internet connection. I’m blessed to have blazing fast fiber optics, but not everyone across the globe (especially America) can have access to it. Also, there are those who still love hard copies. This point can lead a little into used games, but that’s a whole other can of worms. Anyways, I’ve digressed a little; my point is that if there is a growing demand for moar digital distribution, why bother packaging demos? Why not just download them? And yet, you can have both. Easy solution: you buy a game online, and you are given a code (much like the dreaded DLC) to download the demo.

It’s ironic that Capcom of all people is receiving my praise. After all, they’ve received harsh criticism from me and writer Inverseman, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some on-disc DLC on Dragon’s Dogma, even though they are “re-evaluating” their DLC policy (I hope for the best but have serious doubts). Nonetheless, this strategy of packaging demos is one that I would like to see be done moar.  Sure the game that the demo is packaged with may suck, but you don’t have to buy it; wait a few days to read some reviews. At the very least, this strategy is a great way to shed some light on some deserving (or undeserving) games. Until next time people…

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One Comment:

  1. This sort of tactic got me to notice Zone of the Enders, so yes, I like this tactic quite a bit.

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