If you're a PC gamer of a certain vintage… say the tender age of 36, you’ll likely remember demo discs for games, often stuck on magazines. But with the growth of the internet, such discs slowly died off, and so did demos. But they look set for a form of comeback.
That’s because you can now try out games on Steam for 90 minutes without the need to pre-purchase them or deal with any commitments to buy. Starting with the rather excellent Dead Space remake, Steam will let you do as much as you can in the game within an hour-and-a-half, before you need to decide if you want to buy or ditch it.
This is quite different from Steam’s option to get a full refund of a game if you decide you don’t like it, as with that you do still need to buy the game first; if you forget to get a refund within the time window, then tough luck you have to live with your purchase.
But being able to try out a game with no commitments whatsoever will be a nice extra for Steam, which is pretty much the premier PC gaming platform; even more so with the Steam Deck.
How to use the new Steam trial feature for Dead Space
To access the demo of Dead Space on Steam, simply type “Dead Space” into the search bar at the top right-hand side of the Steam Store, then select Dead Space from the drop-down options. You’ll see several Dead Space games, including the original, but you’ll want to click on the 2023 edition.
Once that’s done you’ll be taken to the main page for the game, and just above the option to buy you'll see a “Play Now” button and a time saying how long you have left to play the game before you decide to buy it or move on.
Why PC demos matter today
In a world of early-access games and easy downloads, as well as regular deals, you may wonder if game demos or trials are that relevant in 2023. I’d argue they are.
Not every online platform offers an easy way to get game refunds. So demos are a good way to avoid buyer's remorse; just because something is on our best PC games list doesn't mean it’s going to always suit your tastes.
And the current state of new PC games as well as PlayStation games ported over to the PC isn’t great; The Last of Us Part 1 was one such example. So being able to try a game first without any need to part with your hard-earned cash, even briefly, means you can see for yourself how well a new game will run on your PC or gaming laptop.
This should help people avoid falling foul of badly optimized games or at least indicate to them that they should wait for some patches to be rolled out before committing to fully buying a game. It could also act as a bit of an indicator of how capable your gaming PC is and if it’s time to upgrade.
Steam is a fairly consumer-friendly platform, at least in my opinion. But this new demo option is another step to helping users get more out of Steam and potentially save money. Let’s hope that the trial option rolls out to more Steam games before too long.