Squid and Demos
The weekend before last, I took part in the final round of the Splatoon, Global Testfire demo. It was a last minute decision, and it turned out to be a wise one. Within the space of half an hour, I went from being hardly interested to completely sold on Nintendo's newest IP. I loved the simple premise, the colourful art style and cheerful presentation; the silly shooty-fun-fun made me think of Timesplitters, and you know how I feel about that series. Within half an hour of finishing the demo, I had pre-ordered a copy of Splatoon and then spent the rest of the evening googling Timesplitters 4.
I can’t remember the last time a demo sold me on a game. I thought Splatoon looked like fun, but it struck me as being a little too childish and it also had the misfortune of being on the Wii U, the first console to be unplugged when I need to free up sockets behind the TV. Regardless, the demo convinced me that it is worth my time and that the Wii U should remain plugged in for the foreseeable future.
Aside from Splatoon, it’s been a while since I put any significant amount of time into a demo. I think of the demo as being a throwback to the late Noughties, when every PS store update would bring a handful that I was keen to try. I'd download anything remotely interesting, and use them to plan or justify my next purchases. These days, I know what I like and have little use for demos. I’m stuck in my ways and don’t like the idea of investing time into a partial experience. If my opinion of a game is to change, it'll be due to word of mouth or, very occasionally, positive reviews, not because of a brief trial. Splatoon was a rare and welcome exception.
My disinterest aside, we don't get nearly as many demos as we used to. Publishers and developers are more reluctant to offer them, wary that a poorly received trial can do irreparable damage (see NBA Live). Why give consumers a chance to talk themselves out of a purchase when they have shown that they are willing to throw money at games sight unseen? Nintendo, to their credit, continue to see value in this dying format, and a few other publishers have used them as spectacle, such as Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae and Konami’s PT, which was more teaser than demo.
There's another round of Splatoon's Global Testfire this weekend, but I won't partake. I'm happy with my preorder, and am looking forward to next week. Besides, I don't do demos.