Capcom's convoluted Resident Evil Village demo rollout disrespects our time

I wanted to play the Resident Evil Village demo that launched on PlayStation on Sunday evening. I even pre-downloaded it! But I couldn’t – I have a wife and two young children and Sundays are my only family day. After we put the kids to bed, the few precious hours my wife and I had to ourselves before we collapsed in sleep were spent watching something inane on telly while having a chat. My wife is learning Russian. It seems to be going well.

No bother! I’ll play the demo tomorrow, I thought. At some point, anyway. So this morning, before the kids woke up for school and nursery, I turned my PlayStation 5 on, pressed X on Resident Evil Village, and…

“Countdown until next demo: six days…”

Shit.

I’d had a vague understanding that Capcom was rolling out the Resident Evil Village demo in time-limited chunks – something I thought was an idiotic idea at the time – but I did not realise just how time-limited it would be. (Matt’s Resident Evil Village demo rollout guide is super useful!) Last night’s demo went live in the UK at 6pm and ended just eight hours later, at 2am. There was an eight hour window to play the demo for half-an-hour only. Let’s say you do have the time to play the demo. Restricting it to 30 minutes of game time is at best stingey, at worst needlessly anxiety-inducing.

The result is a demo that is completely disrespectful of our time. It is the worst of FOMO – something I see exploited more and more in live service games, often to an unhealthy degree. Researchers at the universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton recently said many games use a “psychological nudge” to encourage people to buy loot boxes – such as the fear of missing out on limited-time items or special deals.

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Capcom is using a similar “psychological nudge” with its Resident Evil Village demo. Why is Capcom doing this? Well, it wants to create a social media event, multiple spikes of interest as everyone piles on to play the demo during an eight hour window because they won’t be able to play it later. Many social media posts, big numbers on streams, the online water-cooler effect, that sort of thing.

This is not the way, Capcom. For one, I can’t see that the plan has had the desired effect, anyway. But more importantly all that’s been achieved is annoying a bunch of people who would quite like to play the demo, at their own pace and in their own time, who perhaps would then talk about it enthusiastically on social media, but can’t.

Last night’s demo was the “Village” portion. This Sunday, 25th April, the “Castle” demo goes live, again for eight hours only, in the UK from 6pm to 2am – and within that window you can only play for half an hour. I hope to be able to check it out, but I may not be able to. (I’ll probably end up watching our video team’s playthrough of the Village demo, below, instead:)

It’s then assumed the same demo download will allow you to then access the multiplatform window – which PlayStation owners can also participate in – the following weekend. Here, the Village and the Castle demo go live on all platforms for 24 hours (better, but still ridiculous), in the UK from 1am, 2nd May to 1am, 3rd May.

Sunday, 2nd May is another family day for me. It’s going to be tricky for me to play the demo at all. I’ll try my best! But I may not be able to, for whatever reason. And if I can’t, that will be that.

I see no good reason the Village demo cannot operate like a normal demo. It is not a beta test. It is not designed to stress-test servers. Resident Evil Village is a single-player horror game. It is not (last time I checked, anyway) always online.

This is irresponsible FOMO-inducing rubbish from Capcom, and it doesn’t fit into the lives of everyday players. Just let people play the Resident Evil Village demo whenever they want.

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