Left 4 Dead Demo 11th Nov (6th For Pre-Orders)

We're not going to forgive the

We have a release date for the Left 4 Dead demo. It’s available to all from 11th November, running until the 18th when the full game is released. However, if you want more than a week’s free play of a couple of levels from the game, Valve are offering more as a pre-order bribe. Anyone who pre-orders via Steam (or in participating US stores) will get access from 6th Nov, giving you five extra days of four-player zombie destruction.

We don’t know for sure, but a sensible guess would suggest the demo will show levels from No Mercy, the series of levels set in and around a zombie-infested hospital. That’s the area of the game Valve have been most keen to show off so far.

I’m surprised they’re switching the demo off immediately on launch. Even if they put two separate levels from the chapter in the demo, with as much replay value as that would offer, I’d think people would want to be able to play to the rooftop finale and then other three chapters once they’d got a taste for it. I don’t imagine this would be a Quake III, where people happily play the demo alone for the next decade. Valve do as Valve does, and it seems to be working for them. But you’d think the real buzz for the game would appear post-release (even if they are spending a mind-hurting $10 million advertising it), which would then attract the larger numbers of new people wanting to see what it’s all about.

Unless there’s more surprises in store. Who knows.


  1. subedii says:

    I already pre-ordered almost as soon as it became available. Kinda have to considering how fast the pound is tanking against the dollar. :)

  2. Pags says:

    Pre-ordered! I look forward to facing the zombie hordes with fellow RPS-ers.

  3. cyrenic says:

    Not really a demo as much as a content limited open beta. Semantics, I guess.

  4. subedii says:

    Also, with regards to them switching off the demo, that’s pretty much standard for them. Team Fortress 2 and Day of Defeat don’t have post-release demo’s either, what they instead get is the odd free weekend of the whole package, which apparently has worked really well for Valve so far.

    Given the nature of multiplayer games as being based around replayability, even on a small collection of maps, it’s not too surprising a move. A more apt comparison might be to consider this like the TF2 pre-release beta, just more focussed around building hype than actual testing.

  5. Fumarole says:

    Come payday I’ll be buying.

  6. r-terror says:

    Bizzare. I’m buying this no matter what, but if I want to talk my friends into it I guess I’ll have to crack the demo next time we have a LAN party (since it won’t be in the demo period).

  7. Downloads_Plz says:

    I’m not one to question Valve, but giving the demo early to people who have already ordered the game seems kind of odd, doesn’t it?

  8. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    It is not odd. It encourages people to pre-order the game.

  9. A-Scale says:


    Early demo!

  10. Senethro says:

    Totally tangential here, but does anyone else have an irrational hatred of people who play demos of games for decades? People who are in the demo “community”?


  11. Nuyan says:

    Guess they could’ve called it ‘beta’ like with TF2 as well, at least they’re honest about it now.

  12. BorderlandsGuide says:

    Nice, a demo 4 me to try.

  13. qrter says:

    Had already preordered this, so this is nice.

  14. mist says:

    I’m actually going to have to use the demo to see if the thing will run (CPU is JUST below the minimum requirement, but my GPU may make up for it?)

    So I better hope that I have some time to play the game during the demo period, or else I’ll just have to postpone buying the game until I have a new PC…

  15. thesombrerokid says:

    the state of the pound means steam is a no go right now for brittish people unless your mental. the first downside to the system i’ve found, they need to localise the costs man!
    pre ordered on steam along with fallout 3 which is winging it’s way to me as i speak

  16. Squizz says:

    Mist – Source games have always been CPU hogs, the GPU doesn’t always make that much difference.

  17. MeestaNob! says:

    It’s Valve, I’d buy it no questions asked if the Aussie dollar was stronger, but it’s very expensive at the moment. Unless they do a localised price for us I don’t think I’ll be buying for a while… :(

  18. Heliocentric says:

    L4D costs £28.88 over steam, £33.94 including tax, From shopto.net it costs £24.99 (including tax)

    Empire total wars? £24.99 at retail. £41.48 on Steam.

    Valve are being prats with the pricing. No pre-order bonuses for me then.

    Its sad really because I saw digital distribution as the future, but when the poster child Valve themselves are not taking it seriously?

  19. teo says:

    Valve only controls the pricing on their own games

  20. Heliocentric says:

    Which includes L4D… I’ll admit Empire is not, but then *no-one* is taking digital distribution seriously over Steam, including Valve

    Orange box £30.17 (steam)

    Orange box £20.99 (SOFTUK LTD)

  21. Fat Zombie says:

    I shall try this, if only to check whether this could actually run on my ancient PC.

  22. AlpineViper says:

    L4D was still ~$47 Aus on steam last I checked MeestaNob, which given the Aus dollars spectacular recent slide from 90+ US cents to 61c, seems quite reasonable.

  23. MeestaNob! says:

    It makes it $78+ AUD without a box, how is that reasonable?

    I might as well pay an extra $2 and get a box and encourage a local retailer, Except I wont because $80 is a lot of money.

  24. thesombrerokid says:

    it’s mostly to do with the fact the dollar is doing well and vavle just straight convert the american price which can’t be very good for ruskies and chinese and the like who’s economies are grossly undervalued

  25. teo says:

    It’s annoying I know
    All games on Steam got 35% more expensive for me in the last month. They used to be cheaper than retail here. The tax thing sucks too, they should take it into account

  26. Little Green Man says:

    Man if only the pound hadn’t fucked itself over, or Steam did localised pricing. Grrr… had to preorder from Play.

  27. jonfitt says:

    You shouldn’t be comparing the best rate you can find on the web.
    Steam pricing always follows full RRP which is £34.99 and is bang on the money at the current exchange rate from Heliocentric’s calcs.

    Valve couldn’t really say RRP is £34.99 to the retailers, and then go and sell it for less. Whereas the retailers are free to cut their own margins to sell for less. that’s probably over simplified, but the original point stands, Steam is full RRP (barring any time limited sales).

  28. Thiefsie says:

    Well it’s too expensive for me, compared to say the Orange box… and well… I’m a little skeptical of the quality or long last appeal of this, Valve or not.

    I will be waiting for reviews and even then probably waiting for a sale to pick this one up. Too many games that just interest me much more to pay a full $70-80 AUD for this. (Far Cry 2 – $50 AUD, Fallout 3 – $52 AUD

    Funny that… when games hit the magical $50 mark I’m much happier to buy them.

  29. Heliocentric says:

    then Valve set that RRP, its too high if retail is undercutting them and that price +tax is even higher.

    That said… I want it!

  30. James G says:

    Hmm, perhaps I should start praying for a Republican victory, sure I think it would be a bad thing for the US, and the world as a whole but at least it might mean cheaper games over Steam.

    On a more serious note I think I’ll give the L4D demo a try, although I think I might find the whole close-knit small team thing a bit stressful with strangers. Playing as a zombie woule be more my cup of tea, but probably doesn’t have the depth to it.

  31. Optimaximal says:

    People who are in the demo “community”?

    Do a little research – there are 2 ‘types’ of demo scene.

  32. qrter says:

    Hmm, perhaps I should start praying for a Republican victory, sure I think it would be a bad thing for the US, and the world as a whole but at least it might mean cheaper games over Steam.

    Now, here’s a funny thing – statistically, the US economy actually peforms better under a Democratic administration.. (if anyone is really interested and because it’s annoying when someone on the internet says “I read somewhere..” without backing it up – here’s a Slate article on the subject).

  33. Dave says:

    There’s also this one, analyzing rate of return on investment during Democratic vs. Republican presidencies. It’s pretty dramatic.

  34. Shadowcat says:

    This pretty much sucks. I wanted to set up a LAN session with the demo to see if we’re all keen enough to buy it, but ONE WEEK? How do they expect everyone to organise to play the damn thing properly in that amount of time? If it was more like $30 I wouldn’t mind so much, but $50 (or even $45) is pretty up there if you don’t get a proper chance to evaluate it first.

    Not cool. I guess I’ll be waiting until they drop the price.

  35. jonfitt says:

    Just wait for the free weekend(s) that are bound to come along.

    I’m guessing that part of the reason for dropping the demo is they plan to do a patch soon after launch, and that would make the demo invalid.

  36. x25killa says:

    Already pre-ordered and happy about this news for the demo. Quite expensive game though to order on steam (thanks to the pound becoming weaker each day towards the dollar).

  37. thesombrerokid says:


    your reasoning would be sound if valve changed thier pricing structure in the UK with the tanking pound they didn’t and so the game was going to cost £25 before tax (£29.38 +vat) and now costs £31.25 before tax (£36.72 +vat) (not including the current discount)

  38. espy says:

    One way or the other, prices on Steam are just too high. It is always the most expensive option, which is completely ridiculous considering they don’t pay for printing, packaging or material distribution, they don’t have to consider storage or shelf space, they never have to worry about producing unbought surpluses, and they pay no customs duties because they’re not actually importing anything into other countries. How on earth would they justify these prices, if they actually bothered? I’m surprised they manage to sell anything at all (except for the Orange Box, which was a great deal).

    Steam! Pay a lot more for much less! You know you want to, all the cool kids are doing it!

  39. Saul says:

    It’s funny that all these Aussies are complaining about ‘inflated prices’. A couple of months ago, buying games on Steam was about half as expensive for Aussies as getting them in the shops.

    In fact Steam does sometimes do localised pricing, according to the individual seller’s wishes– when it came out, COD 4 was about 30 bucks higher in Aust than the straight exchange price. I guess it just depends which was your currency is moving, which turns out to be the better deal.

    Me, I’ve paid for L4D, and I’m going to keep buying on Steam. In fact I don’t buy any games that I can’t get on Steam any more. As far as I’m concerned, a box and manual are just a bunch of useless clutter, and there’s enough useless clutter in the world already.

  40. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i’d agree with you until now, bear in mind that where left 4 dead is concerned valve is the individual seller and they havn’t bothered to localise their pricing on the platform probably because they don’t really care if you actually buy it on steam over another platform as they know you’re going to have to use the steam version anyway and infact that was my reason for buying the boxed copy, I’d get the steam version.

    by the way I forgot to mention valve can always undercut retail with their own products for all the reasons mentioned by people before and for the record EA are publishing the boxed copy of L4D and set the RRP, valve are not following EA’s RRP they set their own price see the orange box for comparison.

  41. MonkeyMonster says:

    Bring on the demo! Can-not wait :)
    Mmmm, brains.

  42. Ginger Yellow says:

    On the one hand, yay – I can play L4D early. On the other hand, boo – for some reason I thought the game was coming out in the first week of November anyway.

  43. Carra says:

    Mmm, was cheaper on Play.com two weeks ago… With the euro crash it’s now cheaper on Steam though.

    None the less, I’d expect games gotten via the internet to be cheaper (let’s say 10%) then boxes. No need to print a cd, manual, box. No need to have publishers or stored take a share. So they can easily make them cheaper then box copies and still make a larger profit.

  44. Carra says:

    Addendum: Heck, it would be cheaper but I forgot that Steam has their tax (x%?) system on top of the listed price. Unclear prices ftl :(

  45. Premium User Badge

    ChaosSmurf says:

    @Carra: That doesn’t apply in the states (I think) as they don’t pay VAT (or as much VAT) or PC Games (or digitally distributed ones)

    It won’t apply in Italy either as they have no VAT to speak off and various countries where the VAT % is different from the british one (which is 17.5, btw)

  46. Guido says:

    Regarding the demo thing … as we all know, TF2 has regular “free to play” weekends, I imagine they’ll do similar things for L4D. It makes sense – it’s an online play title (for example, UT3 had the QIII problem of people playing just the demo), and in addition to denying people to not pay for playing the game it also creates special events, perfect for introducing changes and the likes.

    Anyway, my version is preordered since the day it was first possible :P

  47. Premium User Badge

    ChaosSmurf says:

    One wonders exactly what kind of post-release development L4D will get. Mostly maps I suppose… They can’t exactly have unlockable weapons >.>

    Idea: Unlockable maps – you can only play on them with a certain number of achievements done. Maybe make them slightly different versions of the other maps as opposed to brand new ones so that people without OCD don’t miss out on too much (lol, gamers without OCD. Funny stuff.)

  48. eyemessiah says:

    Boo @ unlockables!

  49. guardian says:

    Uh, we do have VAT in Italy, it’s called “Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto.”

    Free weekends and time-limited demos have the same problem: if you like to physically meet your friends to play you’ll be lucky to be able to arrange that in the free period. L4D seems like the ultimate LAN party game.
    I guess we’ll play more Raven Shield or something instead.

  50. Erlam says:

    “None the less, I’d expect games gotten via the internet to be cheaper (let’s say 10%) then boxes. No need to print a cd, manual, box. No need to have publishers or stored take a share. So they can easily make them cheaper then box copies and still make a larger profit.”

    Even with tax mentioned after this post, he makes a point. Why on earth would one pay [i]more[/i] (or even equal) for a game with no box, manual, disc, bonuses, etc? On top of that, I then have to download the game, which can often take some time.

    I’m not really getting any benefit if Steam stuff costs more.