Now here's a bounty I'd love to enter. Demos have held a special place in my heart since my early teens. Not being able to afford many new games with my pocket money, I'd end up playing demos over and over again! I think a great demo throws you in at the deep end but leaves you wanting more.

What was your favourite? The two demos that are burned into my brain are Abe's Oddysee and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1. The mid- to late 90s were truly the golden era of gaming 😝

Actually, I was going to say Tony Hawk's too! There was also a very creepy Silent Hill demo that scared the life out of me!

Haha, I have great memories of playing, or rather replaying, the same levels for hours from demo CDs that came with magazines.

Take the 'Star Wars Episode I: Racer' Demo – I feel like I must have replayed that demo for over 30 hours.

And then there was 'Thief.' Even after learning every corner of the demo level, it still managed to be a thrilling and scary experience!

Keep it short and sweet. 10 minutes max and let me jump in and not have to learn 100's of controls. I want to feel all of the power of the game, without any of the faff, especially during a busy show.

Extra points for making it flashy, so even when I'm not playing I can stand back and watch someone else playing to get a feel for the world.

Demos that are just as fun to watch are the best! I love hanging back and chatting with the devs, so it's great when the gameplay shines through without being hands on.

The demo should ideally be the most exciting part of the game early on, one where you don't need to have played too much of the game beforehand to get what's going on, while also still skipping a lot of the usually less exciting introductory stuff. Any tutorials should also be fairly short and sweet and allow the player to get right into the action. As such, it should also be fairly easy, allowing the player to experience a lot of it in a shorter amount of time, though make it very clear that harder difficulties will be available in the main game or something like that, so those after a meatier challenge aren't turned off. It should also be of decent length, enough to showcase all of the biggest USPs of the game, but still end on a "I want to play more now" note.

I also always like when the demo is somehow customised to the event. Even just some splash-screen before or after saying "Thanks for playing this demo at XYZ, I hope you enjoy the rest of the show" or something like that truly goes a long way to show that you care.

This might also just be unique to me because I usually go to these events in journalism mode to interview devs and whatnot, but having the dev on-hand to help out, explain certain design choices they made, etc., does go a long way at least for me. Though I get that's a big ask given how they have sometimes a lot of stations to manage.

Plus free stuff at the stand is also a bonus.

There's an art to telling a coherent narrative while still leaving you with the what the hell is that thing!? moment at the end! When you play the full game you'll know exactly what tiny sub-boss you're heading towards, but somehow the demo makes it feel like some giant end-game twist. 😝

Not too much of the game, but enough to give the gamer a taste and get them hooked

That's fair, can't give away all of the twists!

Lofty would you mind sharing this using the submit to this bounty button? Unfortunately we're not able to reward anything shared using the reply button, as this is for general chat, but using the submit to this bounty button can be considered for a bounty reward.

Feel free to tag me ( Boomer ) if there's anything I can help with 🙂

OHhhhh, i feel this falls in line with being able to read the room of sorts. You want the playable part to be juicy, yet vague..

Fulfilling BUT still need more.

Fave demo ever was tenchu. Great demo thar made we want to get it asap

OK this just blew my mind...I had no idea Tenchu was published by FromSoftware!

Perhaps my perspective as a gaming journalist isn't exactly what you're seeking, but it might offer a different angle. Please note that this is my personal view and may not resonate with everyone.

As a journalist, I find hands-on demos at conferences less appealing. These events are often loud, even in business areas, making it hard to fully engage with or enjoy a game. Moreover, my schedule typically involves 6-12 interviews or demos per day. In my experience, the best approach isn't just playing the game. Instead, having the developer play their game while explaining key aspects, showcasing unique features, and sharing the backstory, inspiration, and challenges they faced is more insightful. This dialogue creates a unique experience, revealing the 'how it's been made' aspect of game development.

For me, the most effective way to truly appreciate a game demo is to have a conversation with the developer at the event, capture the moment, give 100% of my attention to a person, and then receive a demo copy to play later at my own pace. This allows me to absorb and reflect on the game with a notepad in hand, capturing my feelings and impressions without the distractions of the event environment.

I'm definitely no journalist, but I shared a similar reply to Dean (above). It's fun to stand back and chat with the devs 😊

I've been to a lot of shows over the years, mainly EGX and rezzed back in the day, a few retro conventions and the one off gamesmaster live as a kid in the 90s which was the best one of the lot!


I've found games that are complex in terms of gameplay, controls, not very instant pick up and play friendly, are better demo'd in a theatre style presentation (or a gather round) where a dev or knowledgeable marketing person talks through live in front of the screen with a prepared script while another employee plays through the game or a prerecorded video of specific gameplay sections/a mid game level that shows the game at its best. Then answers questions at the end. A bit like and extended e3 live play stage demo at the big MS/Sony/Nintendo conferences back in the peak e3 years.

Other good demos, I'm reminded of just cause 3 I think it was (maybe 4). Instead of the full game which probably doesn't demo well, you were put into a time trial mode of some sort where you had 5 minutes to destroy as much as possible in the time limit and you got given 2 goes (one for practice). If you got over a certain score you won a t-shirt. Or have a leaderboard each day where if you get the new high score you get some free marketing tat as a prize. I think these are the most fun way to demo as you create a little event/competition and buzz around your game and it also makes for a more interesting experience for people to observe that are just walking around looking at the games who can't be bothered to queue.

Although it's from the 90s, that Colin curly quavers game stand is actually a really good example of this!

I can't help but think this could go one further and use Justabout bounties in some way as well now!

That video is just pure nostalgia! 😁 Also, event-based bounties, you say? 🤔 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgd2EbQIAQo

It has to be short and sweet. Personally I like the dev to talk me through the game elevator pitch style then let me get on with it. Headphones are a plus so I can get lost into it and drown out the chaos of the crowds.

Headphones is a great point for more immersion!

IMO a demo at a convention has to have these things.

  1. Start/end level

  2. Show the best parts of the game

  3. Be action-packed

  4. Show the game genre clearly

  5. Show the graphics at its height

It's a few things I look for at conventions and I attend a fair few!

What would you say is the best game you've seen at a show?

Metal Gear Solid 2 - trying to remember which con it was, but they had these life-size models and people in cosplay, we got to play it as well, and I got posters, a t-shirt and a cap as well.


There’s more to love

Help shape the future of our platform as we build the best place to express and enjoy your passions, whatever they may be.


© Just About Community Ltd. 2024