Monday, August 8, 2022

Maiden from Resident Evil Village: a fantastic demo and a smart marketing tool

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Capcom’s release of Resident Evil Village demo, Maiden, is a short slice of what the full version will deliver … sort of. Maiden doesn’t even include the fight, it’s over in about 15-20 minutes (unless you’re stuck on a simple puzzle, like I did), and in one of my design choices. favorite demos, this isn’t even a scenario you’ll encounter in the village itself. Instead, it’s a mood piece, designed to give a sense of the vibe of one of the main Village locations, tease some of the characters we can expect to face, and hopefully , scaring you with a constant sense of dread, While they are perhaps less ubiquitous than when publishers tucked demo discs into a games magazine, Maiden and other recent examples show that there are many ways to run a demo, reminding us of how effective they can be. sell players on a game in a way that no other part of the video game hype machine can.

How a demo can be so effective

Whatever form a demo takes, a good one should accomplish at least a few things: letting a player get a feel for some key aspects of the gameplay, whether it’s the basic game mechanics or how they are. have changed in an ongoing series (like the last Bravely Default II demo), or present you with a new-world atmosphere (like the BioShock demo did in 2007), or give you a feel for the scale and spectacle (like the 2020 Final Fantasy VII Remake demo).

I’ll never forget the BioShock demo in particular, as BioShock was a game I didn’t know if I would like before it launched. This demo, which reproduced the first few minutes of BioShock in Rapture, is forever anchored in my head. I don’t know if I would have ever picked up the full game if I hadn’t actually played it; it gave me just enough to want more. No amount of reviews, gameplay teases, or trailers could have conveyed everything the practice did properly.

Resident Evil 8 Village Showcase Screenshots

Maiden does a fantastic job of preserving the twists the developers have in store for the full game while also communicating what it’s about. While this is probably the rarest case, a whole new installment of the game can still thematically and mechanically touch the full experience.

More generally, part of the existing game is divided as a demo on its own, either leveling a bit in the game to give a full understanding of the gameplay, or even just opening the game up. And thanks to modern advancements, good many of these opening mission demos now allow players to progress to the full experience. I’ll always be happy when I can pick up from that spot in the full game without needing to replay anything. Even when progress doesn’t continue, the developers have found clever ways to entice players to play a demo with content they may or may not have to replay later. Take the recent Monster Hunter Rise demo, which doesn’t carry over progress to the next Switch game, but playing it earns an item booster for players when the full game is available.

Risk and reward

Games, by their very nature, need to be sold on interactive levels that movies and TV just don’t. Trailers and images are all this entertainment medium can offer, and while there is no shortage of both in-game, they pale in comparison to what a demo can convey about what a game actually looks like. .

Of course, there is also the reverse risk: a player can experiment with a demo, decide that a game is not suitable for them, and move on without ever purchasing that game. I can only imagine the risk-cost analysis. when posting a demo. Not all games are suitable for everyone, and you can also easily decide to buy a game after enjoying a demo that you can decide never to touch it again.

Resident Evil Village PlayStation 5 Screenshots

But when the demos work, they really work.

I’m not sure if Maiden will necessarily usher in a new era of demos – their popularity seems to come in waves, either from generation to generation, or even just on a given console. And a lot of developers have released demos in recent years, so Capcom’s move here isn’t necessarily new or unexpected. It’s a reminder of the power of a demo. And that’s a huge service for gamers, allowing discoverability and understanding of upcoming games on a deeper level. Demos can help you decide a game is not for you, but when they help a player fall in love with a new game, they act as amazing doors to worlds you have never experienced before. , in a way no other tease could ever accomplish.

Jonathon Dornbush is editor-in-chief of IGN, host of Podcast Beyond !, and responsible for PlayStation. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.


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