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Sony Plans Game Demos With Eroding Functionality

Future game demos released by Sony may reduce in functionality as players spend more time with them, coupled with a shareware-like purchasing model, according to a recent patent filing.
Future game demos released by Sony Computer Entertainment may reduce in functionality as players spend more time with them, coupled with a shareware-like purchasing model. As described by a recently-granted patent reported by Silconera, Sony's planned demo system "implements trigger metrics to erode game play characteristics, such as character, object, event and/or environmental features." That means when players first load the demo, they could have access to nearly the entire game. But as they put additional hours into the experience, depending on the game's genre and mechanics, they could be faced with reductions in scope like fewer locations, levels, equipment options, or abilities. One diagram, shown above, depicts a character whose sword progressively shrinks as the player continues to run the demo. Echoing the shareware business model, popular in the PC market in the 1990s, such a system would allow a player to "unlock" the game by paying the purchase price over the internet, restoring the game to full functionality and effectively transforming the demo into a standard copy. Such a game could be transferred either digitally or on a disc. "It may be desirable to implement demonstration versions of video games in a manner that more fully promotes the features or characteristics of the game while still providing protections that will induce gamers to purchase the right to use the video game," the patent explains.

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