GDC 08: WiiWare Demos Not Required

When is comes to Xbox Live users, they have it made when it comes to downloadable content. If they find themselves browsing through the XBLA catalogue and find a game they might like, all they have to do is download the demo to find out. As for Nintendo Wii users, there are no such things when it comes to the Virtual Console. For the WiiWare channel, it appears to be the same way, that is, on the surface.

In a recent interview with NOA director of project development Tom Prate, he was quoted as saying, “having demos [is] … not a requirement from Nintendo.” This comment would leave one to believe that while demos are not mandatory, they will in fact be allowed.

Prata continued by explaining demos are a “very costly type of endeavor” for a developer and by not making them mandatory, fewer risks are taken. However if you take a look at Microsoft’s business strategy, game demos are a great way to drive up sales.

Statistics on XBLA have shown that on average, 20% of demos downloaded have led to a purchase of the full game. This of course leads to revenue for all parties involved, making these “expensive” demos seem almost worth it.

Of course choice is always a good thing and by leaving it up to the developer, everyone ends up happy, except for maybe the consumer. We can only hope that developers will look at Microsoft’s strategy and come to the conclusion that demos can be a worthwhile investment.