Anyone who has been a member of XBox Live for the past few years has been aware that they could purchase some classic XBox games via download through XBox Originals. This would lay the groundwork for the recently deployed Games on Demand program that contains XBox 360 gems like Grand Theft Auto 4, Mass Effect and Oblivion. Stored to the player’s hard drive and tied to their XBox Live account, the customer never has to touch a disc to play their favorite games.
Also added to this list has been the XBox exclusive Fable II which came out last year on retail discs. The way Fable II is being sold to customers is an entirely new way to distribute previously released full retail games as it takes an episodic format. Through Games on Demand, players can download the first of five chapters in the game for free.
Instead of giving a traditional demo which would stand apart from a retail copy, players get to experience the full first chapter of the game and save their progress throughout at no cost. Should the player enjoy what they play, they will be able to continue purchasing chapters through the in game menus. The only setback of this first chapter of the game is that it won’t receive full online XBox functionality until players have purchased additional chapters.
There are a lot of potential advantages to this piecemeal style of game sales, specifically for the consumer more so than the distributors. Unlike a traditional demo, the time a player invests in to a game is not lost and forced to be repeated when the full retail version is purchased so there is more incentive to play a demo from start to finish. Unlike renting a game that doesn’t have a demo released, a player isn’t forced to pay for the first few hours of gameplay to see if the game tickles their fancy.
Some games also eventually become repetitive and after the first few hours lose a player’s attention. By selling the game in episodes, it will allow players to decide to stop where they want without being forced to pay full retail for a game that did not hold them long enough. Microsoft’s strategy has been seen on PC with episodic releases of adventure games in the past, but this is the first time a full console retail game has been chopped up and sold as pieces for new consumers.
With the free first chapter, this download is a must for any players who had not played Fable II yet. With a 4.5 star rating from over forty-thousand XBox Live users, there’s no mistaken in the value of giving this game a chance through this new and unique for console distribution.