Nintendo has been reluctant to offer demos of new video games published on its hardware. The company experimented with limited demos of minor WiiWare titles a while ago, but has never distributed sample versions of major titles the way that other publishers provide such things on Sony's PlayStation Network or via Microsoft Xbox Live. That changes starting today as the Nintendo 3DS eShop updates with a downloadable demo of Capcom's upcoming Resident Evil Revelations. Next week a demo of Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games will be available with demos of Rayman Origins and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D will follow in the weeks ahead.
"The demo program allows Nintendo 3DS players to be among the first to test-drive select games," said Tony Elison, Nintendo of America's senior director and general manager of Network Business. "Players can try out new genres or series, often weeks before the full versions are available in stores."
Demos really do work. I've been swayed into picking up PlayStation 3 titles that I would never have considered prior to playing a solid demo version. So far it's only third-party demos that have been announced and there's no word on whether or not Nintendo will offer test drive versions of its own. In a way, Nintendo doesn't really need demos for its own material. Super Mario 3D Land and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D sell themselves. Players know what they're going to get with those titles, but the 3DS experiences behind Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid may be unknowns to most people. However, I don't believe that Nintendo should count out demos entirely. Kid Icarus: Uprising may benefit from a demo boost, as could anything else completely new and semi-risky that the company plans to launch. Nintendo isn't a stranger to demos, after all; retail kiosks offering samples of new Nintendo products have been around since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Why not bring that experience home via the eShop on a regular basis for its own products in addition to third-party offerings?