Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Demo Discs - The Original Amateur Circuit of Playstation Gaming

It was in the late nineties that demo discs had their heyday coinciding with the early days of the original PlayStation console's publishing run. Whilst Nintendo were still sticking with their cartridge based software, Sony were releasing much cheaper to produce game discs which meant that it was possible for PlayStation magazines to include demo discs when they went on sale. This allowed gamers to sample a wide selection of games which were either in development or already released and watch trailers as well as read about them. It basically fulfilled many of the functions that a then completely offline console generation would now use services such as the PlayStation Network to access. They were nifty little things and looked something like this.

These things can fetch a pretty price on auction sites nowadays.  
    Now before this turns into an encyclopaedic article on demo discs I should mention that it is very likely that these demo discs played a significant part in making or breaking a lot of new gaming franchises in the early days of this console. Final Fantasy and Metal Gear were probably the only notable series of games on the PlayStation that  had any history associated with them. Other series such as Crash Bandicoot and Gran Turismo had no glorious track record to lure people in,(these were the days when the annual release schedule wasn't mostly sequels) so a really attractive demo of one of these early titles would give the good impression these competing gaming franchises would need to survive the first sales cull on this new platform.

Sorry, Tokyo Highway Battle... you just didn't make the cut.

Nintendo didn't have this problem seeing as their roster of trademarks already had such a rich history with the gaming public that people pretty much knew what they were getting with half of the titles that were coming out. Now that our demos can be downloaded directly to our consoles demo discs are obsolete but it would seem that Nintendo haven't fully embraced this method of marketing new gaming properties like the other big guys have done and this could be a reason for Nintendo's undoing at some point in the future.

For now, endless iterations of Zelda and Mario might bring in a pretty penny but have you walked into a game shop recently and seen how much shelf space the Xbox 360 games take up? Sure not all of those games are must play epics but there are plenty of 'half decent romps' in that collection, something the Wii is (and by extension Wii U will be) just so sorely lacking in. Chancers and new ideas factories aren't being attracted to Nintendo and they really need to be. Otherwise the revolutionary technology of Wii U will be wasted on lame titles such as "Wendy's Word Picnic Adventures Jr." and that would be a terrible waste of all that potential.