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Oct 2, 2007

Death by Demo

Until I purchased an Xbox 360, I always had to base my game purchases on shows like Reviews on the Run or X-Play. Even watching Cheat gave me a good idea of the game play and helped me make my mind up on games like Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath or Psychonauts.

Now with the magic of the Xbox marketplace, I can test drive games before I purchase them with the many demos that are available before or after their release dates. Problem is that some demos are poorly designed and don't give a good impression of the full game.

Take for example, the Beautiful Katamari demo, which was very short, played like every other Katamari before it and didn't impress me with anything new. I like Katamari games, but give us something new for once. Don't show us a demo that looks and plays like all the Katamari games before it and plays for only 5 minutes. Give us a taste of what's new in the game, so that we leave wanting more.

Blue Dragon's demo was another great example of a poorly designed demo. You're dropped into the middle of the game with no idea of what's going on and how to play the game. There's no tutorial, so you have to figure out how to fight, use special powers and items with no help at all. The enemies were incredible hard to fight and honestly the demo completely turned me off from ever purchasing this game.

Though when I received a copy of Blue Dragon at X'07, I figured what the heck, I'll give it another try and low and behold, Blue Dragon is actually a good game. I can't seem to put the controller down. The storyline is interesting and the game play is a lot easier than I thought. It's a shame that demo turned me off of what was actually a good game. This is not a good marketing move from the game design company.

The Viva Pinata: Party Animal demo is another demo that had me questioning the value of purchasing this game. I love Viva Pinata, but the demo was way too easy to play which makes me wonder if this game is made purely for kids. If it is, then I have no interest in buying it and again that's $50 more dollars not going into Microsoft's pocket.

Game designers have to realise that demos are just as important as the final game. If a demo does not show the best parts of a game, then you risk giving your product a bad image before gamers can play the full version. Sure, there are reviews to read and friends to give opinions, but most gamers will use demos as their final decision on a game.

Game designers ... make sure you're always putting your best foot forward, because gamers are not afraid to step on you and your game, if they don't like what they see.

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