There are few things in life that confound me as much as the ordeal you’re put through in order to play a demo in a store.
In theory, this should be an easy task.
You should be able to stroll in, pick up a controller, and demo a game. That sounds reasonable enough, right? So why is that every retailer has decided to make it a painful and uncomfortable experience for anyone who enters their store?
If you’ve been to a WalMart, Target, or Best Buy, then you probably know what I’m talking about. Sure, the actual process of being able to demo a game is simple. Assuming nobody else is at the kiosk, you just pick up the controller and select the game you want to try. However, the experience is almost never a pleasant one, and I’ll tell you why.
For starters, it baffles my mind the way the screens are set up.
WalMart puts the screens up on top of the shelf, forcing you to look straight up and subject your neck to pain in order to play. Target and Best Buy found a way to eliminate the neck strain, but their solution brings about another problem. They set the screen directly in front of you, and I do mean directly. The controller is put on a three-inch leash, with the screen just a few inches behind that. This would be fine if they were using smaller screens, but the vast majority of stores choose something in the 37″-50″ range, making everything look either blurry or pixelated when standing that close. On the rare occasion where you’re able to find a decent size screen that is still easy to view in close proximity, you’re still faced with the next problem.
The next major issue is something that all the retailers share: the lack of audio.
The audio is one of the most important parts of a game, often being one of the key factors in immersing you into it. So why in the world does every retailer turn off the audio and block of the volume buttons on the TV? I could understand if they didn’t want people blaring the volume in the store, but couldn’t they at least turn it up enough that you can actually hear what is going on?
As someone who loves video games, the way demos are displayed in-store saddens me.
Typically, these retailers get early demos of games before they hit the digital stores for console owners to download. This is how I was able to try out games like Bound, Chasm, and Shovel Knight before their demos hit the PlayStation Network.
I still check out the kiosk each time I go to the store, just to see what new demos are available, but I still feel bitter. Until retailers step up their demo game (no pun intended), I don’t think I can bring myself to pick up that controller in the store anymore.
– Zack Burrows