I saw a comment to my rant about pictures on game boxes, and it brings up an interesting point. Owen writes that "All games should have demos." I'm not sure I fully agree, but I think that demos serve a very important role to the gaming industry.
Anyone who's seen the Spore trailer is probably waiting less than patiently for the game to be released. Now, what if there were a demo for the game? You'd go out, download it, and try to make it reveal every secret about the game before it's released.
So what happens if the demo is poorly contrsucted, locks up, crashes...the graphics aren't quite what you expect...things don't work as promised...what do you do in that situation? Well, chances are it will turn you off to the game. It doesn't matter if all these bugs are fixed in production, it will still sour your mood to Spore.
However, if the game is awesome, then you'll be expecting even greater things from the full version. You'll get even more impatient and end up cursing the guys who released an early demo for you to play. You'd be hooked on it, and unable to escape the draw of the game.
That's how demos work. Games that can develop amazing demos almost always tease you, excluding important features but showing you enough of the game to hook you. It's like having a clear class cookie jar with a solid, steel lock on it. You can see the delicious cookie, but can't touch or eat it.
If the demo doesn't work, and is bad, it probably is never released. The developers rely instead on their game box and advertising to sell their product instead of a shaky demo. Sometimes, these demos get released after production is done, or get leaked, though.
The problem is that demos are often created as an offshoot of the actual game. They tend to include many aspets of the game, but there are key differences. Features will be removed from games, or added, and the demo is left lacking because it was concurrently created. Often, the demo will tease a player with a cool idea or feature that was removed from the game after the demo was released.
So, bottom line in my thinking, a demo is only viable if it is released after the game is "finished," and even then it's only good if it accurately reflects the game. It's also my experience that games without demos are more likely to by pirated*, because let's face it...if you can't take a car for a test drive, you're not going to go buy it on a whim. Pirating is like a free test drive, because you don't have to buy the game in order to test it out.
Tomorrow: Star Wars Rebellion's finest men and women.
*I do not condone software piracy. While I will admit it has uses, it is wrong to take something that is not yours. Video Game piracy is no diferent than walking into a store and taking the game box off the shelf and walking out with it. If everyone stole games, no game company would waste money making them.