Nintendo’s eShop Demos Are Shooting Themselves in the Foot

3ds demos feattopIn the last few months I have become much less of a Nintendo fan, due in large part to the mistakes the company has been making.

For example, their recent YouTube policies are drawing fire from YouTubers, and the fact that the new 3DS XL ships without an AC adapter is just plain criminal. And those are just the first two gripes that spring to mind; I could probably think up a substantial list in the time it would take me to find a pen to write it down with.

Recently, thanks to Retrovolve’s Andy Reierson (my co-host on the Tim and Andy Show), I am once again in possession of a 3DS, and, having been away from the handheld for two years, I was excited to see what was on the eShop these days. I found a pleasing selection of Virtual Console titles and full-sized downloadable 3DS games (something Nintendo should have done from day one, I might add), as well as plenty of gutter software that wouldn’t pass muster on a mobile phone from 2006.

Still, I was happy to see some demos for games I am legitimately interested in, like the recent handheld version of Smash Bros., the new Final Fantasy Theatrhythm game, and Bravely Default. My only gripe with these demos is that not only are they castrated versions of the full software — which is fair and to be expected — but that they can only be launched a limited number of times.

Grumpy Scrooge McDuckThat seems very miserly of Nintendo, though it wouldn’t exactly be a huge roadblock in action games like Smash Bros. or music games like Theatrhythm. For an RPG epic like Bravely Default, however, it seems far too limiting to be worth the download time. With RPGs, players often prefer to methodically take their time and explore the game world, even when that world is presented in a limited demo format.

I do admire the connectivity between the demos and the full titles. I think it’s brilliant to have what a player does in a demo carry over to the full game, if they choose to buy. Square Enix has been fantastic about this in the past with the demo version of their Final Fantasy mashup game, Dissidia 012: Duodecim, which not only let players carry over data to the full game, but it offered exclusive carryover data as well. This encourages new players post-launch to play the demo while at the same tile whetting the appetite of day-one fans.

However, the Duodecim demo let players take their time to unlock the content for the full game, but Bravely Default‘s model is a perpetual reminder that players are on borrowed time. For me, I’m taken out of the experience by this limit, and this ruins any fun I might be looking forward to in future plays. This is not to fault Square Enix though, as this limited launch count seems to be a trend offered up by Nintendo rather than a limitation imposed by Square Enix.

Bravely Default charactersOverall, I’m happy that Nintendo has embraced downloadable content in a more concrete way, offering fully featured demos of their handheld titles. I just wish they’d stretch the olive branch a little further to complete the package, removing the arbitrary play count on their demo software.