The only demo I have played in the last year or so was for Recettear.
Because no other games I want have demos available >.>
So, not too important, but I will take them if they are available.
For the most part, I watch video supplement reviews or playthroughs of the game before making my decision, though if my friends have the game I tend to ask their opinion (they've been right about most things so far, and they're VERY good at giving a level opinion.)
Demos are a very important piece of advertising to the gaming community. Demos are actually more useful for PC games rather than Xbox or PS3 mainly because all the advertising and investigation you need for the consoles is already on TV or being advertised on XboxLive or PSN.
I don't buy a game unless I've tried it.
So yes, it is 100% important.
I usually know what games I plan to by before I download demos, but it's still nice to get some time in with the game before committing $60 to it. I don't find it necessary to always download demos, but they're nice to have (and besides, it's just fun to be able to play a game before its release, even if by only a few days).
In general, though, I look into games quite a bit before making a purchase decision (you know, reviews, pre-release coverage, live demos, stuff like that). The demo is just the last piece of information that I use in a long list of other factors.
I only ever pick up a demo if it's a game I'm not so sure about. There have been plenty of games I haven't bothered with simply due to a lack of a demo, not too big on taking risks with the plethora of shitty games that comes out these days. On the other side, there are a handful of games I have picked up due to trying out a demo, and wanting more.
Usually, however, if it's a game I know I'm going to get, and there is a demo, I'll leave it alone. I like my game experiences to be fresh, and the demos often times kill that for me. Hell, I won't even watch videos of games I'm super stoked for (was really hard to not watch a single New Vegas video before launch, for instance).
I find demos helpful, less for determining if I like the gameplay, though obviously that's a factor, but more for making sure the game will run smoothly.
Since I'm on a laptop for my gaming purposes, even if I have the specs, some games just won't run well. So demos can be helpful. I have skipped buying many a game because I'm afraid it will be a year or so before I get the opportunity to play it.
For example, I recently downloaded the demo of Mass Effect 2. That ran fine, so I will very soon be acquiring Mass Effect... Once all my Uni stuff is sorted...
I haven't played demos since the days of Playstation Magazine giving them away.
That probably really dates me. My thing is that apart from series that I like (Mass Effect sequels) I don't buy any game without a lot of other research, so I don't really need to play demos.
Somewhat important. Sometimes, I need to get physical to see if I like a game or not. <3
Some of my happiest and earliest gaming experiences were in demos. Demos like the one Anachronox had. It was wonderful, not just a slice of the game, but one that just introduced the game to you, like it knew it was a game. Not a lot of games do that sadly.
Then there's the Space Empires 4 demo. 100 turn limit proved to be weeks of fun.
And the Unreal Tournament demo. Man, was that awesome.
The Mount&Blade demo as well, excellent.
Point is, it's our gaming culture. Since the dawn of shareware there has been the demo, the nibble, the morsel you get for free to entice you to get the game, or at least to keep you as a potential customer. If that dies, then we will have lost a part of ourselves.
For PC games, it's a necessity.
For console games, it's a good reassurance but I can buy a game without a demo.
If there is a demo for ANYTHING. I'll play it.
So, I like demos.
I've bought games I was totally uninterested in after playing the demo. The last demo to sell me on a game that I wasn't planning on playing was Heavy Rain.
I download all demo's for games I want to buy. Games are sorta expensive and I like to try before I buy. Hell I like to rent more than I buy. 75 bucks for a 6 hour story and crud multiplayer no one plays is not a sound investment on my end, the only games I flat out buy are ones my circle are going to MP the hell out of or rpgs, otherwise it's a strict rent, or buy when its pennies more than renting it at 14 instead of 11 dollars.
I usually use demo's to see if I like a game. Several of my steam games (including Mount & Blade) are bought because of a good demo.
If I decide to buy a game without trying a demo first it is because my friends have had it and recommended it or because I know that the concept of the game seems fun (usually games on sales or just cheap from the get go) and I'm sure that I can run it.
I think demos are a bit silly, why only try a carefully crafted level for a game the desginers made to be good when the game itself can be total crap?
I wait for reviews.
I've got around 1000dkk a month for pretty much everything besides rent and food, 400 of which goes to train tickets. That leaves 600dkk for games, alcohol, movies, concerts, and alcohol. A brand spanking new title lies around 500dkk, so yeah, I play demoes whenever I can before deciding whether I really need a game at launch.
I always try play a demo if the game interests me, but I'm willing to go by the strength of the reviews (especially a certain someone's) or if the game has a good enough trailer like Red Dead Redemption. If I had found a demo of that I would have played it.
I used to care more about them, but I don't really any more. They just don't matter any more.
I generally don't buy games without having played a demo, mostly because I want to know how the game feels in my hands, how the controls are. It's definitely important.
Most of the time i try before i buy.. so yes to demos. As long as they arent broken and unstable.
Very important for me indeed. Sometimes I want to try a game I am not familiar with or tested/read on. A demo is how I judge a game on 90% of the time.
Without it, I only purchase safe franchises who will give me money's worth.
I've been playing the PSP demo for Dissidia Final Fantasy for about 6 months, I may get the second one instead, even though I loved it.
I rarely play demos. The only demos I can remember actually downloading are Left 4 Dead 1/2, Dead Space 2, Resident Evil 5, and Mirror's Edge. All of those games I planned on buying except Mirror's Edge. If I'm ever very excited for a game, I'll download the demo because I want to get to it as quickly as possible. I know, that's completely stupid, but I just can't wait until February to play Bulletstorm! I have to get a taste.
I'll get them whenever I can, especially for PC games. I find it important to know whether my PC can run the game smoothly or not.
A demo is very important to me if I'm buying a PC game as it lets me know whether my rather old and creaky laptop will deign to play it as even if it meets the specs it occasionally takes umbridge with certain games.
On consoles, not so much of a worry
Most recent demo I downloaded because I was wondering about it's quality and fun was the Apache helicopter game. Result: Surprisingly fun.
I never play demos, I don't think they are an accurate description of the game. I prefer other things, like reviews.
Demos to me personally have become less important since I started renting games but I love demos. There are quite a few games that I had little-no interest in but ended up buying after the demo: Just Cause 2.
In fact, when I first got my ps3, I didn't buy any games at all for a week, I just downloaded a ton of demos.
It can be the best (or worst) advertising there is for a game.
I only usually download demos for the PC, just to see whether the game will run smoothly enough on my slowly aging system.
I will download console demos every now and again, but after the Mirrors Edge demo, I never really trust them fully.
I rarely buy a game without reading reviews or getting a thumbs up from friends. So demos are fairly moot at that point.
Demos are great and it is sad that there aren't more out there. Saying that, it isn't much of a problem in this day and age, where the media coverage and online communities built around games will easily give you the insight you need when looking at a new title.
Considering it was my love of the Super Mario Sunshine demo that earned me a PS2 and thus got me into gaming, so I'd say demos are extremely important to me.
I only download demos when I am bored and need something new to play or when I am iffy on a game my friends have.
I usually get it to decide on games I'm not sure about, or when I'm bored and looking back at games I missed the first time around.