Game demo

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A game demo is a (usually) freely distributed piece of an upcoming or recently released video game. Demos are typically released by the game's publisher to help consumers get a feel of the game before deciding whether to buy the full version and/or keep it.

Freeware is software, most often proprietary, that is distributed at no monetary cost to the end user. There is no agreed-upon set of rights, license, or EULA that defines freeware unambiguously; every publisher defines its own rules for the freeware it offers. For instance, modification, redistribution by third parties, and reverse engineering without the author's permission are permitted by some publishers but prohibited by others. Unlike with free and open-source software, which are also often distributed free of charge, the source code for freeware is typically not made available. Freeware may be intended to benefit its producer by, for example, encouraging sales of a more capable version, as in the freemium and shareware business models.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that have been developed either internally by the publisher or externally by a video game developer. As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.

Contents

Distribution

In the early 1990s, shareware distribution was a popular method for publishing games for smaller developers, including then-fledgling companies such as Apogee Software (now 3D Realms), Epic MegaGames (now Epic Games), and id Software. It gave consumers the chance to try a trial portion of the game, usually restricted to the game's complete first section or "episode", before purchasing the rest of the adventure. Racks of games on single 514" and later 3.5" floppy disks were common in many stores, often very cheaply. Since the shareware versions were essentially free, the cost needed only the covering of the disk and minimal packaging. Sometimes, the demo disks were packaged within the box of another game by the same company. As the increasing size of games in the mid-90s made them impractical to fit on floppies, and retail publishers and developers began to earnestly mimic the practice, shareware games were replaced by shorter demos that were either distributed free on CDs with gaming magazines or as free downloads over the Internet, in some cases becoming exclusive content for specific websites.

Shareware is a type of proprietary software which is initially provided free of charge to users, who are allowed and encouraged to make and share copies of the program. Shareware is often offered as a download from a website or as a compact disc included with a magazine. Shareware is available with most computer software. Shareware differs from open-source software, in which the source code is available for anyone to inspect and alter; and freeware, which is software distributed at no cost to the user but without source code being made available.

3D Realms video game developer. Formerly known as Apogee Software (1987–1996)

Apogee Software, Ltd., doing business as 3D Realms since 1996, is an American video game developer and publisher based in Garland, Texas. The company is best known for popularizing the shareware distribution model for video games in the 1980s and 90s, as well as for creating game franchises, such as Duke Nukem. 3D Realms was founded by Scott Miller in 1987 as Apogee Software Productions, in preparation for the release of Kingdom of Kroz. Apogee Software adopted the trading name 3D Realms in 1996, and the rights to the former name and logo were eventually sold to Terry Nagy in 2008, using which he established Apogee Software, LLC.

Epic Games American video game company

Epic Games, Inc. is an American video game and software development company based in Cary, North Carolina. The company was founded by Tim Sweeney as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991, originally located in his parents' house in Potomac, Maryland. Following his first commercial video game release, ZZT (1991), the company became Epic MegaGames in early 1992, and brought on Mark Rein, who is the company's vice president to date. Moving their headquarters to Cary in 1999, the studio's name was simplified to Epic Games.

Shareware was also the distribution method of choice of early modern first-person shooters (FPS) like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom .

First-person shooter Action video game genre

First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre centered around gun and other weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist. The genre shares common traits with other shooter games, which in turn makes it fall under the heading action game. Since the genre's inception, advanced 3D and pseudo-3D graphics have challenged hardware development, and multiplayer gaming has been integral.

<i>Wolfenstein 3D</i> video game

Wolfenstein 3D is a first-person shooter video game developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software and FormGen. Originally released on May 5, 1992 for MS-DOS, it was inspired by the 1981 Muse Software video game Castle Wolfenstein, and is the third installment in the Wolfenstein series. In Wolfenstein 3D, the player assumes the role of Allied spy William "B.J." Blazkowicz during World War II as he escapes from the Nazi German prison Castle Wolfenstein and carries out a series of crucial missions against the Nazis. The player traverses each of the game's levels to find an elevator to the next level or kill a final boss, fighting Nazi soldiers, dogs, and other enemies with knives and a variety of guns.

<i>Doom</i> (1993 video game) 1993 first-person shooter video game

Doom is a 1993 first-person shooter (FPS) video game developed by id Software for MS-DOS. It is considered one of the most significant and influential titles in video game history, for having helped to pioneer, along with the 1992 game Wolfenstein 3D, the now-ubiquitous FPS gameplay type, and has been frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. The original game was divided into three nine-level episodes and was distributed via shareware and mail order. The Ultimate Doom, an updated version featuring a fourth episode, was released in 1995 and sold at retail.

There is a technical difference between shareware and demos. Up to the early 1990s, shareware could easily be upgraded to the full version by adding the "other episodes" or full portion of the game; this would leave the existing shareware files intact. Demos are different in that they are "self-contained" programs which are not upgradable to the full version. A good example is the Descent shareware versus the Descent II demo; players were able to retain their saved games on the former but not the latter.

Magazines that include the demos on a CD or DVD and likewise may be exclusive to a certain publication. Demos are also sometimes released on cover tape/disks, especially in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, but given the increasing size of demos and widespread availability of broadband internet, this common practice throughout the 1980s and '90s gradually lost cover focus to full games. With the advent of console online services such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, demos are also becoming available as a free or premium download[ citation needed ].

A magazine is a publication, usually a periodical publication, which is printed or electronically published. Magazines are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three.

Compact disc Optical disc for storage and playback of digital audio

Compact disc (CD) is a digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony and released in 1982. The format was originally developed to store and play only sound recordings (CD-DA) but was later adapted for storage of data (CD-ROM). Several other formats were further derived from these, including write-once audio and data storage (CD-R), rewritable media (CD-RW), Video Compact Disc (VCD), Super Video Compact Disc (SVCD), Photo CD, PictureCD, CD-i, and Enhanced Music CD. The first commercially available audio CD player, the Sony CDP-101, was released October 1982 in Japan.

DVD Optical disc

DVD is a digital optical disc storage format invented and developed in 1995. The medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

Console manufacturers also often release their systems with a demo disc containing playable previews of games to be released for their console.

Medium

The availability of demos varies between formats. Systems that use cartridges typically did not have demos available to them, due to the cost of duplication, whereas systems supporting more cheaply produced media, such as tapes, floppy disks, and later CD-ROM and DVD-ROM have; the Internet has more recently been a source for demos, although typically this is in addition to other distribution media available for the system in question.

ROM cartridge removable enclosure containing read-only memory devices

A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.

Magnetic tape data storage is a system for storing digital information on magnetic tape using digital recording. Modern magnetic tape is most commonly packaged in cartridges and cassettes. The device that performs writing or reading of data is a tape drive. Autoloaders and tape libraries automate cartridge handling. For example, a common cassette-based format is Linear Tape-Open, which comes in a variety of densities and is manufactured by several companies.

Floppy disk removable disk storage medium

A floppy disk, also known as a floppy, diskette, or simply disk, is a type of disk storage composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic enclosure lined with fabric that removes dust particles. Floppy disks are read and written by a floppy disk drive (FDD).

Types

Game demos come in two variations: playable and non-playable (also called a "rolling demo"). Playable demos generally have exactly the same gameplay as the upcoming full game, although game advancement is usually limited to a certain point, and occasionally some advanced features might be disabled. A non-playable demo is essentially the gaming equivalent of a teaser trailer.

Playable

Generally, playable demos are stripped-down versions of the full game, restricting gameplay to some levels, only allowing access to some features, or limiting the amount of time playable in the game.

However, some demos provide content not available in the full game. An example of this was the Age of Empires demo which included a Hittites campaign and two maps not available in the full version. Also, the Half-Life demo Half-Life: Uplink is a self-contained game, adapted from material cut from the development of the main game. The demo for "The Stanley Parable" takes place in an area created specifically for the demo to show off the premise and humor of the game, as the narrator states multiple times that the player is taking part in a "video game demonstration".

In other cases a demo may differ from the equivalent section in the full game, for instance when the demo is released as a preview before the full game is completed. An example of this is the demo for Mafia II which took place in an altered version of the Buzzsaw mission set in the 1950s, as opposed to the equivalent mission in the full game, which was set in 1945.

Demos for platform or other action games generally only include the first few levels of the game. Demos of adventure games are often limited to a very small number of rooms, and have the "save game" feature disabled. Demos of sports games usually limit play to an accelerated half-time or complete match between a small number of teams (which at the same time led to the practice of "demo expanders" that allow the tweaking of some of those settings). Likewise, demos of racing games are ordinarily restricted to a single race with a pre-selected car.

Non-playable

A non-playable demo is a recording of gameplay, either recorded in a video, or played through using the game's own engine showing off the game's features. They are mainly displayed at gaming conventions, such as E3, when the game is still in early production as a technology or gameplay preview. Such demos might also be distributed through the Internet or with magazines as trailers for an upcoming game, or featured at retail stores (often among playable demos).

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