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Game Demos For Linux, Thoughts & A List

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While there used to be more game demos in the past of PC gaming, there aren't many developers left that do them. The ratio is not great on Windows, 17%, it is lower again on Mac at 11% and it is even worse on Linux at 8% of games and other software available on Steam that actually have a demo version.

Why is that? We can only speculate. Of course it is an extra effort to create a demo. On the other hand you can show to your potential customers exactly what you've got for them. They cannot only watch it in some video, they can actually grasp how it feels to play. On the other hand, this might be a problem for companies. They cannot create an image of what it might feel like, they actually have to deliver. Thus Jesse Schell acclaimed that demos would cut sales to a half for "medium games" on Xbox 360.

On the other hand, demos might help developers to convince gamers of the quality of the product. Even more so on Linux, where you don't get a demo every day. People may be attracted to your game by giving them a try.

When I first tested some game demos on Steam, I was disappointed. Battle Worlds: Chronos crashed and the demo of Among the Sleep didn't even have an executable to install for Linux. So I took a try on all game demos on Steam, and the result turned out to be mixed, but better than I had feared.

Of 55 demos - 53 for games and 2 for development software -, I could not test 3 because I already owned them and Steam didn't want to install the demo. These three work fine as full version, so I expect the demos to work as well. 4 games did not have an executable, but 3 of those are interactive fiction story with web demos, so you probably won't miss them. 3 demos had major problems on my system, 5 partial problems. Of course, your experience may vary.

But 40 games installed and ran without any problem and are waiting for you to discover. There are games of different genres, some of them quite special. Why not give them a try?

What about you?
Can you recommend any of the demos?
Or do you know other sites with good gaming demos for Linux?

The full list of demos tested Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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mirv 16 October 2014 at 11:15 am UTC
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To my thoughts here on the matter: game demos are very important for me, especially when you're not sure if the game will even run on your system or not.
On the list you've noted Assault Android Cactus. It's an early access game, and one that I purchsed because they had a demo. I could see that they had something running, that it worked on my system, and that it would be something I'd enjoy.
By the same token, there are games that I thought I might enjoy, but have completely held off from buying because I couldn't tell if it was actually worthwhile or not. The middle ground are those games that I'll risk paying money for something that doesn't work, but only after a certain amount of time, only if there's not an abundance of negative comments, and only if it's on sale.

So I whole heartedly think that there should be more demos out there.
PublicNuisance 16 October 2014 at 12:17 pm UTC
http://www.gamershell.com/demo_download_archive.html

That's the main site I go to for demos. These days I won't spend more than $5 on most games unless they have a demo. The sad thing is many demos these days are by developers who are asking for less than $20 of your money anyway. It's the guys charging $50-60 that need to show me their game is worth it.
stan 16 October 2014 at 3:32 pm UTC
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This is a sad state of affairs yes. I have already bought a game after playing the demo because I was hooked. But most games are not that good and/or broken and a demo might show people that the game is not worth spending time&money on it.

On the other hand since there’s a high chance a game won’t work or won’t be fun I’m not gonna pay 20+€ for it. So I generally wait for -50% or -75% sales even when it turns out the game is really worth its full price.

For example I had Deponia in my wishlist since it’s been out for Linux, but there was not way I was gonna pay 40€ without trying it first. And watching someone else play it on youtube was out of the question (great way to spoil an adventure game!). So I waited for a big sale, had to search the forums for someone saying it was working on Arch Linux, and bought it for 13€ yesterday. So far I like the game and might have bought it for more…
Maquis196 16 October 2014 at 8:22 pm UTC
I really dont know why you cant get a full game on steam as a "demo" version for like 6hrs or something. Maybe an account needs to have a certain number of games in it, or its checked by IP/Cookie... ah I dunno, someone smarter then me could think of something but bottom line is this;

Steam is a delivery platform. Who needs a stripped down game when you can trial the real thing for X number of hours.

Works for free weekends, obviously need less time then that, but then I wonder how many games wouldn't be bought if people could spend 5mins playing them first?
c704710 16 October 2014 at 10:10 pm UTC
UVL tracks [url=www.uvlist.net/search?fplat=106&ftag=demo]if demos are available[/url] for all games, including Linux games. It is by no means a complete list but has the advantage of not being steamcentric. Currently tracking 445 Linux games with demos.
Segata Sanshiro 17 October 2014 at 1:27 am UTC
If I had to take a guess as to why people don't make as many demos anymore these days it's probably for two reasons:

1 - The internet has completely changed things in that regard. You can watch a let's play or a review and get an idea of what the game is about without playing it.

2 - Impulse buying is where devs selling on Steam make most of their money. People don't even play 50% of their games or for more than one hour. If you give people demos, they get a chance to think about it rather than "oh, this looks good. I'll buy it for 75% off"

I should really start trying demos more... I wouldn't have bought Battle Worlds: Kronos if I had played the demo... Then again, like I said, that's one of the reasons there aren't demos in the first place.
Eike 17 October 2014 at 9:00 am UTC
Segata Sanshiro1 - The internet has completely changed things in that regard. You can watch a let's play or a review and get an idea of what the game is about without playing it.

Of course, there are some aspects you get to know with a video and some you don't (how quick the game reacts, how well it works on your system, if you could solve the puzzle yourself, ...). But I feel that's not the real reason why I very much prefer the demo over a video. Watching a video more feels like a spoiler to me, while playing a demo seems like an introduction. Might have to do with me not growing up with Youtube, though, I don't know.

Segata Sanshiro2 - Impulse buying is where devs selling on Steam make most of their money. People don't even play 50% of their games or for more than one hour. If you give people demos, they get a chance to think about it rather than "oh, this looks good. I'll buy it for 75% off"

It seems the big ones are more fearing people not doing the impulse buying while the smaller ones take a chance on people getting to know their games.

The other aspect has been mentioned in articles I read about demos: That people might actually be satisfied with the demo's content. When looking at how many people are not even reaching early achivements in games, this might be true.

Segata SanshiroI should really start trying demos more... I wouldn't have bought Battle Worlds: Kronos if I had played the demo... Then again, like I said, that's one of the reasons there aren't demos in the first place.

That was one I was sure I'd not buy after trying the demo, it simply crashes on my machine. When doing another test for the list, I was disappointed that it hadn't improved.
Segata Sanshiro 17 October 2014 at 1:42 pm UTC
QuoteMight have to do with me not growing up with Youtube, though, I don't know.

Well yeah, way back when you would get those demo discs in the game boxes or demos with gaming magaines (which were more or less the only source of news).

Would like to see demos come back even just for nostalgia reasons . I remember the demo for FF8 been included in the FF7 box, playing it and thinking "whoah the graphics are crazy!!" haha.
stan 17 October 2014 at 1:58 pm UTC
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Maquis196Who needs a stripped down game when you can trial the real thing for X number of hours.

That doesn’t work for all games. For Counter-strike, yes. But for an adventure game? People could finish it during the free week-end and never buy it.

Also I’d rather not have to wait for a free week-end to be able to try a game. And if you allow anyone to try games at any moment for 1 hour, for example, then people could just create another account to keep playing…*

A good demo will stop at the good time to leave the player hooked and wanting more. But it requires extra work from the developer.

*Edit: although that might just work, if you assume that people who are going to cheat like that might as well pirate the game and will not be buying the game anyway.
stan 17 October 2014 at 2:09 pm UTC
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c704710UVL tracks if demos are available for all games, including Linux games. It is by no means a complete list but has the advantage of not being steamcentric. Currently tracking 445 Linux games with demos.
That’s great, although it says X-Com has a demo… It does have a demo, just not for Linux, I think. (Steam says "Download PC demo".)

PS: I fixed the link in the quote .
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