Word just hit from EA that their Battlefield: Bad Company 2 demo is "on pace to become the fastest downloaded demo in EA history." It has been downloaded to Xbox 360s and PS3s more than two million times.
In the past week EA has also said that its Dante's Inferno demo was downloaded three million times, which, if I may inject some expert analysis here, is better than I thought it would do.
Just last month, we reported that the Gran Turismo 5 demo/time-trial had been downloaded a million times in a month.
A year ago we reported that the Resident Evil 5 demo had cracked 1.8 million downloads, more than a million of them in the first three days of availability.
What I've yet to see a company make public is the number of people who buy the game after having downloaded the demo. It's not like that would tell us whether the demo convinced people to buy the game, though. After all, folks who want a game may get a demo just to have part of the game early. But I have heard some developers wonder if demos sometimes turn people off from games — or even satiate the desire for the game, making the gamer who gets it feel like they now don't need to spend money and get more of the experience.
Demos are popular. The numbers confirm it. But do they work? That's still an open question.