There’s a rather unfortunate trend going on in gaming today. It has to do with game demos. If you guessed that it is in regards to when these trials are released, you would be absolutely right. Somehow, the industry has shifted in a perplexing way. Instead of these samples arriving ahead of or alongside a major release’s launch, we are seeing more and more important games with such opportunities arriving long after their release.
This has happened three times in 2017 already. Prey, Mafia III, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands are all games that were supposed to be among the most important releases in the last year. All three of them didn’t get these extended, free trials until the glitter and hype faded. In each situation, they were games that were supposed to be these big deals. Maybe even game of the year contenders. But instead, they faltered into obscurity and companies waited to try and make them more enticing.
To help you appreciate how long these demos have been delayed, let’s go over the dates. Mafia III launched on October 7, 2016, and it didn’t get its trial until March 27, 2017. That is over five months later. Ghost Recon: Wildlands launched on March 7, 2017 and received its trial on August 3, 2017. That is four months right there. Prey is the least egregious, coming in at May 5, 2017 and getting a sample on August 16, 2017. That’s only three months. Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else?
I mean, a simultaneous or near simultaneous launch benefits everyone in all three of these instances. People want to play games when they are fresh and new. Especially with a multiplayer game like Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Taking months to get a trial doesn’t make it more attractive. And developers and publishers are losing money. The value of games only go down, not up. If someone gets the trial now, do you honestly think they would buy right away? No, they would wait for a fall or winter sale or perhaps even a used copy.
You also have to look at the dates when these free trials were eventually released. Mafia III’s free demo released one day before MLB the Show 17 and the PlayStation 4 versions of the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 and 2.5 Remixes. It also came out in the same month as games like Nier: Automata, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and oh right The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not smart. Meanwhile, Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Prey’s free trials are coming out in one of the most packed Augusts ever. These old games now have to compete with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Madden NFL 18, Yakuza Kiwami, Everybody’s Golf, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Agents of Mayhem, StarCraft: Remastered, and Sonic Mania. That is not a good position to be in. These older, middling games can’t outshine these other titles.
Listen, it is great companies want to put together demos. Especially when they are extended trials. Those are fantastic ideas. But when you release them months after a game has been released and is on the verge of obscurity, then you have a problem. Especially when you release them in the same month as other, more important games. Give us timely samples, as it benefits everyone.