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Play Before You Pay

2nd December 2009; By Murat

Nintendo recently released demos on the Wii Shop Channel, and as some predicted, the service was a complete success. This is obviously due to certain reasons, mainly because nobody wants to buy a game they haven’t tried before, and sometimes because when a gamer thinks about downloadable games, they often think of short and unattractive bursts of gameplay for a few minutes, after which, the game will be left hanging about with the other channels somewhere on the Wii main menu. In addition to this, since the developers are allowed no more than 40mb, the possibilities on the available content might seem rather dim and short-lived. Those who download WiiWare titles will know that this isn’t actually the case and is in fact quite the opposite. However, the main question here, is does the demo service enforce WiiWare purchases or avoid them?


    Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 provide downloadable demos for retail products, which gives the player a glance of the game they’re after without purchasing. You may not be able to download demos of disc titles on the Wii Shop Channel, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the service altogether. I haven’t really seen what the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 has to offer on their downloadable games, but I can say that the Wii offering still offers a lot of fresh, original content, with Nintendo celebrating their 100th WiiWare game recently in Europe and Australia, and earlier in the year over in America.

    Although the demo service for these games was implemented a bit late, certain developers are already seeing the effects of success. Not only are they throwing their titles to players to try and decide upon, but they’re also showing that the service has a lot of potential to demonstrate and embark upon. In a recent interview, Alex Neuse of Gaijin Games has also come to believe that the service was a hit for Bit.Trip BEAT . Even gamers whom roam the Wii Shop Channel and purchase WiiWare titles but intended on skipping the Bit.Trip games were eventually given a free taste of what the series offers, leading to more gamers deciding to find out how the game continues by purchasing the full thing. Although you’ll likely sacrifice some points – money – as an outcome, believe me when I say that certain games on WiiWare shame even retail titles you find on store shelves.

    On the other hand, there are also certain WiiWare titles that also bring the service to shame. Every game on there has developers throwing in their efforts and hard work, most of which pay off, but some are just unappealing or haven’t gone through enough time in development. If developers hope to magnetise the gamer to their downloadable products, they’ll need to put in double the effort and time into perfecting a game to provide both the demo and full game in a matter of months or even a year, especially since a quick play of the demo will likely make-or-break a sale. A lot of effort and money goes into developing a single WiiWare title and developers are just as aware of this as those developing a retail product. Some efforts will backfire if they’re not accurately adjusted for the gamer's enjoyment, and some will leave them wondering whether or not the game really was worth the money.
    If you haven’t connected your Wii online or haven’t purchased or tried out any WiiWare title so far, then I’d strongly recommend you give the service a go. If you’re the type of person who relies mainly on good games through retail stores, then you’d be pleasantly surprised as to how many magnificent games are available through the Wii Shop Channel. At the moment, there are five playable demos on the service in Europe, North America and Australia. These are World of Goo, Bit.Trip BEAT, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A Darklord, NyxQuest and Pokemon Rumble. I first thought Pokemon Rumble wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped, but now that I’ve had time to breeze through the demo version, I found it hard to keep my finger away from the “buy” option on the Wii Shop Channel, and with games such as the multi-award winning World of Goo, we can hope that the service will continue to expand in future.

Feature by Murat
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