Demos of upcoming games are starting to become a recurring addition to the Nintendo 3DS eShop, but unlike trial versions of games on the Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360, 3DS demos include an interesting (and sometimes frustrating) quirk. For reasons that Nintendo refuses to share, 3DS demos can only be played a several times before becoming unusable. The number of plays is different for each demo. Some allow players to try the demo thirty times before locking up, others top out at ten sessions. The new demo for Project X Zone caps play at five times. Game Informer attempted to get to the bottom of the situation and understand why these demos self-destruct after X amount of plays, but sadly didn't learn much beyond the fact that it's Nintendo's policy at work here.
We reached out to Nintendo to find out and were giving a surprising answer. We asked if this was a requirement on their side or something up to the publishers. We were told, "We don't discuss our internal business practices."
So, we tried another approach. We asked what the benefit was to limiting the number of demo uses. We still got nothing, and we were told that Nintendo would not share anything else with us about the matter.
Instead, we reached out to a publisher who has had multiple use-limited demos just to get the story. We were told that the requirement comes from Nintendo. For some reason though, they weren't willing to admit that or tell us why.
It's puzzling to me why Nintendo would enforce this policy. It's not like these are full games locked up with a limited trial (as PS3 owners enjoy via PlayStation Plus). We're talking about fragments of the full experience. The only reason I can think of for restricting demos is that Nintendo doesn't want players to devour a demo to the point of becoming uninterested in purchasing the full game. It seems that the hotter and more anticipated a title, the fewer plays its demo allows. Moreover, perhaps the company doesn't want players to keep a demo forever and play it instead of the full game. I used to keep the Sonic Unleashed demo on my PS3 so I could take a quick run through its fun speedy daytime level whenever I wanted, but it didn't stop me from buying the full game. For a while I even kept the demo around after I'd bought the actual disc. Fear not, publishers; Sonic is a rare example. Usually I delete demos after playing them whether or not I plan to buy the full game. PS3 or 3DS, I just don't have the storage space to keep demos around for the long haul. Do most people? It seems like if there's fear of overplay of demos, it's a problem that eventually solves itself with the passage of time and shrinking available storage space.