Dead Rising: I Don’t Buy It

Someone had to think of it eventually. Someone had to look at demos—one of the purest, most noble inventions of the past console generation—and figure out a way to milk for some extra change. Along comes “Dead Rising: Subject Zero,” the first, I’m sure, in a radical new wave of demos you actually pay for. I hope you enjoyed your free demos, because I don’t know how much longer they’ll be around.

They call it a “prequel,” but about the only thing that separates this thing from a large-form demo (which do exist) is the ability to earn Achievements. Yipee. I seriously hope you are neck and neck with your arch rival’s Gamerscore, because that’s about the only circumstance in which you should get excited for, and then pay to acquire, a few dozen gamer points.

Honestly, it’s not even the thing itself I mind, it’s the precedent. This is clearly their replacement for the demo, but that formula didn’t need replacing. You play the game, you like the game, you buy the game. In theory, if even half of the press release crap these folks put out is true, they should be thrilled to let you get your hands on their product. Unless, of course, your game is no good and you know that people playing it will not do you any favors. Now I’m not saying “Dead Rising” is a bad series, far from it, but I do think Capcom has some really terrible software coming out down the road, and they’re looking to pave themselves a road over rocky terrain. Studies show that people value things they pay for more than things they get for free, and it could be argued that dropping some coin for a demo will actually make people more inclined to approve of it. They’re testing the waters, Dear Reader, and I don’t like it one bit.

I’m also sensitive about the issue because I’m such a devout fan of the demo process, no matter what anyone says. A well-engineered demo has led me to purchase many games I otherwise would have completely ignored, including but not limited to: “Saint’s Row,” “Halo Wars,” “Prey,” “Limbo,” “Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light,” “Grid,” “Split/Second,” and many others. Tell me you don’t know people who bought games because of the demo, games they never would have gotten otherwise. It just works, Dear Reader. It’s one of those crazy anomalies that’s actually good for people on both sides of the game cycle: gamers love to try stuff out before they buy, and developers win a whole hoard of new fans that their ad campaign missed. It’s a win-win, no matter what Cliffy B says.

So I’m watching you, Capcom. I’m watching this “prequel” shenanigans you’re trying out on us. I better not see “400 MS Points” start popping up next to the download option, or I’m coming to find you in Japan. You can’t hide from me.