Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rant: I hate time-limited demos

Warning: Upcoming mini-rant

Today I downloaded the demo for Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box for a bit of fun. Of course, I expected "a bit" to be more than "thirty minutes".

When I play a demo, I want to have adequate time to explore and get a good feel for the game. I like to take my time looking around, checking things out, and basically exploring the area. I don't want to be rushed through it by an insanely short and constricting time limit. I'd rather be given a small chunk of the city with a handful of races and unlimited time to explore than have the whole shebang and a minuscule amount of time to check it out.

I don't see why any developer would decide that a timed demo is better than a content-limited one. While downloading the demo, I thought "Hey, I can give some impressions on this demo tonight" Not with only 30 minutes of gameplay I can't! It took me that long just to settle into the bizarre controls!*

On the other hand, I also downloaded the demo for Crysis today (I was bored, you see). Unlike Burnout Paradise, the Crysis demo offered unlimited play time to complete a portion of the game. In this time I got to get a real feel for the controls, do a bit of exploring, and kill a whole lot of bad guys. I actually had the time to understand what Crysis was about and form an opinion on whether or not I should buy it down the line (Short answer: Nah). Crysis' demo was how all game demos should be.

So then, I ask you, game developers: Why with the timed demos? It doesn't make much sense to me no matter how I twist it. Okay, fine, so some people might just play the demo forever if it's a small bit of the game without any time limit. A bigger problem, though, is distributing the entire product with a time limit, because you just know someone's gonna hack that within days of it becoming available. Then, instead of losing a few sales on folks that are content playing the same level a billion times, you end up with thousands of pirated, cracked-open copies floating all over the internet. Which sounds worse to you?

The above? Just something I had to say. Timed demos have always gotten on my nerves, but usually it's just little indie developers that pull that, not the big guys. If you plop the entire big-name game on my hard drive yet only let me play it for half an hour, I get a little cheesed off. I spent over half an hour downloading this 3GB+ game, so I feel entitled to more than the piddly little taste you gave me. Yes, I know that demos are free, but as the old saying goes, time is money. I spent time downloading this game. Call me foolish for expecting the game to spend a little time on me.

*A to accelerate? Z to brake? What the hell?

Discuss This Rant Pile On The Forums


The Linker said...

I gotta agree. I guess they were worried about how replayable it is -- honestly, the biggest part about the game is crashing your car into other cars, and that never gets old. :D I could see myself doing the same level 30-50 times, trying to see how big a crash I can get the next time.

Still. 30 minutes? Really? At LEAST an hour would be nice. 45 minutes, even. 3 gigs for 30 minutes does not a good investment make. And even if I did play the same level 30-50 times, eventually I'd say "Man, if I got the full game, I'd have like thirty other stages to do this on."

There's a very good chance I'll get the full game at some point. I loved the Burnout game I got to play on the Gamecube, but then it disappeared off Nintendo systems. :'( I miss it...

Ryan said...

But there's so much stuff to do in Paradise for 30 minutes. I've had the game since launch day in January 08, and trust me, you won't get bored. Burnout is open-world so it makes more sense to have it time limited unlike games like Warhawk.