"Dead Rising 2: Case Zero" is a risky experiment for Capcom. It's a significant chunk of game being sold for a paltry $5 price, and yet I believe it will pay off big in the end. I realize there's a portion of the gaming community who thinks that this heralds a new age of for-pay demos, but "Case Zero" is much more than a demo and is likely to result it more people picking up "Dead Rising 2" when it comes out at the end of September. Other publishers take note, here's what Capcom did right:
Content That's Not In the Full Game
"Case Zero" features a location which won't appear in the full "Dead Rising 2." Still Creek may be a tiny rural town with only a handful of shops but it's completely unlike any of the environments of the full game. It's also a major shift from the location of the first game, giving the whole experience a very new feel.
If, for example, Capcom had set "Case Zero" in one of the casinos of Fortune City, people would've felt ripped off, asking why it wasn't just included in the full game. Still Creek might have appeared in a cutscene in the full game, but no one would expect Capcom to make it a full, playable region. As a separate, downloadable chapter, though, it makes total sense.
The Gameplay Isn't Watered Down
While there are a lot of features that aren't included in "Dead Rising 2: Case Zero," like co-op and the full list of "Dead Rising 2" combo weapons, most of the gameplay is present and accounted for. Saving survivors, picking up random weapons, changing into crazy costumes, building combo weapons, it's all there. It feels like a full experience, even if it's really just hinting at what the full game offers.
The Price Is Just Right
"Dead Rising 2: Case Zero" is worth more than five bucks. But Capcom's main goal wasn't to cash-in here, it was to get as many people playing the prologue as possible. The more people that play it, the more likely to head out and pick up the full game. For Capcom, the money they may lose from underpricing "Case Zero" is clearly worth the money they gain from people picking up the $60 full release.
Carrying Progress Over, Achievements
Capcom is allowing players to bring some of the progress they make in "Case Zero" over to the full version of "Dead Rising 2." You can earn up to 5 experience levels, a handful of cash and a half-dozen combo cards for use in the main game. Given that the first few levels of "Dead Rising," when you're a puny nobody running around at sloth-speed, is generally the least fun part of the game, the head start is much appreciated.
And, in addition, "Case Zero" has 12 unlockable achievements, totally separate from the main game. Because who doesn't like achievements?
Publishers: Do What Capcom Did
Capcom nailed for-pay, pre-release content right on the nose with "Dead Rising 2: Case Zero." It encourages new buyers of the full game while offering enough value, even if you're only going to play the downloadable prequel. That's bad news for publishers, who should realize that this is the sort of standard gamers will expect for pre-release content in the future. Time to step it up!