As of January 31st, you can no longer download demos of WiiWare games and Nintendo gave no indication that demos will be returning.
WiiWare developers and fans clamored for years for Nintendo to implement the ability to download demos of the games available on the service. Nintendo capitulated and as of November 16th, 2009, you could download demos of Pokemon Rumble, World of Goo, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Dark Lord, Bit.Trip Beat and NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits. By all accounts, the service was a success for both gamers and developers. But Nintendo intended the demo download service to be only an experiment and pulled them down on January 31st, and didn’t really explain why.
“The WiiWare demo experiment ended on Jan. 31, 2010,” a Nintendo representative said. “From the start the demo program was always planned to be available for a limited time on a trial basis.”
Whether that means a more robust system will arrive in its place or if Nintendo is permanently discontinuing it remains to be seen.
If it is gone forever, then gamers will lose the ability to test games out before they buy them, and developers might see a drop in sales because of the barrier for entry.
“I can say that interest definitely spiked for Bit.Trip Beat (I mean who doesn’t like free?) when the demo hit and that sales certainly picked up because of it,” said Gail Salamanca of Aksys Games.
Compared to Xbox Live and the PSN, Nintendo’s online marketplace is definitely feature-poor. Sure there are some good games there, and releasing their back catalog is great, but not having the ability to try out games seems counter-intuitive to a successful business model.