The Square Enix lineup has exploded with games in recent years Harvestella, core of crisis, Leave, and more to be released within a few months. Marketing all of these games at once can be a tedious task, especially in a season that’s busy with many other releases. However, Square Enix has recently changed its approach, opting for a more consumer-centric strategy, allowing players to test games with lengthy demos long before release. It’s a smart move that helps attract players and a practice that should be an industry standard.
Square Enix’s demos have traditionally been divided into two distinct categories, opening hours of the finished product that allow you to transfer data, and more conceptual demos that seek player feedback. Both of these categories help Square Enix fulfill the player’s enjoyment of the experience, which greatly affects the company’s image. These demos also just do a great job of promoting upcoming games. Giving players a few hours of fun for free makes them more engaging than a trailer or scripted preview ever could.
The DioField Chronicle Demo lets players progress through the game’s first two missions – nearly four hours – and all progress is then carried over to the main game. The same applies to Valkyrie Elysium, triangle strategyand Harvestella. These demos are long enough to make them feel worthwhile, but short enough to often leave players wanting more.
Square Enix is ahead of the curve in this regard and has come up with a somewhat unique strategy compared to Early Access games. But it’s not the only company increasingly focusing on demos and testing.
PS Plus has started offering timed trials for major games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Horizon forbidden west, but Square Enix’s efforts can serve as a blueprint for how it’s done. Apparently, Grand Theft Auto VI doesn’t need a demo to convince buyers, but for smaller games that don’t get as much attention it could be huge. games like greed case or the Ys series could seriously benefit from letting players try out the opening times, and the ability to transfer progress makes them even more likely to make that purchase.
There is, of course, another side to all of this. In some cases, demos may be released while a game is still in development. Square Enix released such demos for Octopathic Traveler, triangle strategyand Brave Sally 2. Interestingly, all of these titles seem to fall into a similar category of nostalgia lures trying to capture what fans love about classic JRPGs. Having a concept demo that polls players is a wise decision to help with this. Again, it’s a way to generate excitement, especially when the demo launches during a big event like a Nintendo Direct.
This kind of demos could be especially useful for more complex genres like real-time strategy or tactical RPGs. Upcoming games like homeworld 3 or Disgaia 7 are specific examples of titles that could really benefit from a concept demo by gaining feedback from fans who have invested in the series for years, even decades.
With so many releases and so much marketing, it’s great to jump into games and try them out for yourself before making a purchasing decision. Square Enix has set the standard for making demos in the modern era, and as the industry moves towards going entirely digital, hopefully we can see more developers and publishers follow suit.