Activision seems to have started a new trend over the past month. Unsurprisingly, this trend is yet another anti-consumer practice coming from the company. This is related to something that has died down quite a lot over the last decade: demos.
It started with the recently released Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, a remake of the first two THPS games (the game is pretty solid, by the way, you should check it out if you can). What is the issue? Back in early august, Activision released information about a demo of the game that would be coming the 14th. Sounds great, doesn't it? Demos are a dying trend and they heavily benefit both the consumer and the developer. You get a taste of the game that goes beyond the usual marketing, being able to get it running on your hands and be sure if you like what you're playing or not. If you don't like it, you can safely skip the game and not harm your wallet. If you do like it, you feel comfortable about buying the product and the devs get a guaranteed sale.
There's a catch, however.
The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 was paid. Not directly paid. It was available ONLY for those that had pre-ordered the game. Yes, to be able to check out the game and see if you would even like it at all, you had to have already paid Activision in advance. And not only that, but it was exclusive to digital pre-orders. Those that bought the game physical were left with a "too bad" and nothing else. Mind you, this demo was released less than a month before the game's actual release.
Granted, refunds are a thing you could go for if you disliked the game. But the fact that you needed to give your money in the first place to be able to see if you would even like what you were getting is pretty… messed up, to say the least. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 was the first one, and now Activision has just announced that Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time will do the exact same thing, with a demo coming the 16th of this month.
"Paid" demos have existed in the past. You didn't pay for them per se, but they came bundled with magazines or inside other games you would buy. For example, Need for Speed: Underground 2 had a demo for Burnout 3: Takedown inside it. However, demos like this were a bonus– you bought a full title and, as extra content, got access to a brand new unrelated game's demo to check it out and, maybe, give it a buy in the future.
When you refuse to allow people that are on the fence to give the product a try before giving you money in advance (and in a very short time frame, too), you're essentially making consumers gamble their money on something they could potentially dislike. They could lose their money, while you could still profit from it anyways.
What do you think of Activision's decisions? Do you believe it is harmful, or harmless? Am i looking too much into it?
TL;DR: Activision is now on a trend of releasing demos of games only for those that have pre-ordered it. It means you need to pay for the game in advance in order to even be able to play the demo and decide if you like the game or not.
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