Prey finally has a real demo on PC (but is calling it a trial except when it calls it a demo)


Oh, nice! After trying to highlight a few games that have PC demos recently (I do like a demo – it’s far friendlier than a refund scheme and can actually be really interesting as a piece of curation or editing in and of itself, although obv it then requires more work and doesn’t contain the possibility of someone forgetting to get a refund or straying outside the no-questions refund period) there’s now one for the sci-fi adventure, Prey [official site].

If memory serves, the reasoning for having a console demo earlier in the game’s life but not one for PC was given as a resource thing. Basically Steam’s refund policy lets you refund a game if you’ve played less than two hours so the effort went into making console demos and the Steam policy would cover those on PC until a dedicated demo could be made. As per the first paragraph of this story, the Steam refund policy and the ability to play a demo aren’t the same thing so I’m glad we have this now.

Alec went into more detail on the difference back after lead dev, Raphael Colantonio made the point initially:

As for the refund aspect – well, a bit to unpack there. “So it’s like a demo already” isn’t quite right, in that you have to fork over a forty-odd quid “deposit” just to access to it, and though Steam’s refund system is generally quite reliable, there’s always that worry that you’ll be the poor shmoe who it doesn’t work out for.

From Bethesda/Arkane’s point of view, they also miss out on a bit of pre-orderage because the demo is not available pre-release as it is on console. But hey, that’s their problem.

Then there’s having to keep a close eye on the clock while playing to make sure you don’t accidentally go ever two hours even if you’re having a perfectly awful time. Not exactly difficult, but it is one more block removed from the teetering “it’s like a demo already” Jenga tower.

Actually, returning to that news story I note that the first comment is from a user pointing out they got a warning email for requesting too many refunds which said “You’ve requested a bunch of refunds recently. Please keep in mind that refunds are not a method for trying out games. If we think the refund system is being misused we’ll decline to grant future refunds.” – that seems to be a message that multiple people have received, after a quick scout of various forums and subreddits (usually prompted by a glut of refunds due to speculative sale purchases) and so it helps bolster the case for demos still being important even if you don’t care about the other reasoning. It also points to inconsistency in Valve’s own messaging but that’s another million words of editorial right there.

ANYWAY, I should probably talk about the actual game for a bit. Prey has you aboard a space station of the future which has been infested by hostile alien creatures of various, related flavours. It’s survival horror, with some curious powers at your disposal and a story to pick into about what’s going on. With the PC demo you get roughly the game’s opening hour – also it’s not a really a demo, it’s a trial.

The distinction Arkane are making is that with their Prey demo you’d get a separate experience from the game proper in terms of your progression, whereas with a trial you retain your progress and get any trophies or achievements you earned in that time. Nicely complicating proceedings is that Steam is referring to the trial as a demo. I’m assuming that might be language that’s hard-coded into the store interface but I’m not sure enough of that to say for definite that Steam demo progress would feed into the full game if you stuck with it. I also haven’t seen an answer to the question on the discussion board AND I can’t download the demo and test it myself because I own the game. [It is indeed a trial, presenting an option to unlock the full game on the main menu -non-Preying ed.]

If you do like the demo/trial/thing and want the full game, it’s half-price right now, down to £19.99/29,99€/$29.99 on Steam.

One final point, which John can borrow for his big book of baffling Steam interface choices, is that a lot of people seem to be confused about where to find said demo/trial: it’s the blue “download demo” button on the Steam page.


  1. Kefren says:

    Does the demo have Denuvo? I had problems playing the RE7 demo because of that, which put me off the full game (I’m hoping they’ll remove it one day, as Doom and Inside did, then I can buy RE7 as I did with both those games).

  2. Flopper says:

    I was so disappointed this game wasn’t actually related to the original Prey that I refuse to play it on principle.

    The original Prey still in my opinion had the best portal technology in a video game. Better than Portal and Portal 2. Not sure why no one has ever done anything like that since.

    • Blake Casimir says:

      Frankly I cannot understand this viewpoint, it seems totally illogical. How many songs share the same name but because they’re by different artists they share nothing else in common? How many books or films share the same name but similarly have nothing in common?

      You’re missing out on one of the greatest immersive sims ever made (not saying it’s perfect of course but bloody good) just because of … a personal vendetta? Dislike towards a developer and/or publisher for using the same name as another game? I liked Prey 2006 a lot, also, but really don’t care that these games have nothing in common save for their first person perspective. I don’t see the problem.

      (I do, however, agree that it’s a shame we’ll never see the cyberpunk-style Prey 2.)

      • skyturnedred says:

        It just seems silly to acquire the IP for no good reason.

        • welverin says:

          Yes, but just as silly to refuse to buy the resulting game because of it.

    • fish99 says:

      That’s nonsensical stance IMO.

    • caff says:

      Ok here is the tactic I employed – forget the name, any preconceptions or expectations, and just play it.

      It’s brilliant.

  3. Chromatose says:

    I downloaded this demo last night to try the game for a second time, as I was so very handily informed last time that I was (a) not playing the game right and (b) going in expecting to hate the game.

    It took me all of three minutes to get permanently stuck inside a bit of level geometry in the very first room of the game. Restarted, and then promptly got stuck in another bit of level geometry. I’m not saying there’s not a good game buried in there somewhere, but good grief, Prey is broken to a degree that would make GSC Game World blush.

    • Vandelay says:

      Strange, I don’t recall ever getting stuck in geometry once, which is quite a feat considering the way you can clamber about the place, changing into different objects to get into different places.

      There are a couple of moments that are wonky, such as dialogue overlapping and the chef sidequest, but to compare it to GSC is nowhere near my experience or any that I have heard about.

      • Chromatose says:

        it is entirely possible that I’m just having absolutely rotten luck with it. It’s kind of exasperating when everybody else seems to be having such a bloody good time with it, and I’m stuck in a bathroom wall :P

        • Simplex says:

          You must have some kind of gift, I played for >30 hours, never got stuck.

        • frymaster says:

          If you could stomach unrelenting tedium, I bet a bunch of game companies would love to have you as a tester :D

    • Booker says:

      I played the demo for 3 hours and never got stuck. Had a lot of fun.

  4. kse1977 says:

    Ooh, very nice. I will try this demo and maybe finally pick the game up. Been circling this one for a while now!

  5. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Ooo, nifty. The original Prey’s demo sold me on the full game, which I then proceeded to enjoy muchly.

    I had assumed I would eventually buy Pr4y straight up, but now I’ll be sure to play through its demo beforehand just to mess with the advisory board’s spreadsheets.

  6. yhancik says:

    Oh so it seems to run on my PC… well at least the first minutes of it. Didn’t expect that considered my graphic card is one generation behind and has half the memory of the minimal requirement?

    (although I can perfectly imagine the game later gets more demanding)

  7. racccoon says:

    Yeah, well, games had demos long ago & the demo proved that game devs wanted us to play their game, seeing how it ran & whether it was worth buying.
    The Demo needs the recall from the past.
    Hitting support, & finally a refund all the time, after downloading a full game to uninstall it as it was rubbish, is just wrong & unproductive the winner is middle guy who handles the transactions with a fee. Wasted.
    Demos bring a moment about the game that helps the interested player see what the game plays like.
    Most older game demos actually proved game players would buy more than not. Its.. “once you got the taste” syndrome, games were bought more through the method of demos.
    If, devs can bring their products to big events with the announcements of their progression, they can make demos, its that easy.
    Bring back Demos! it works! :) .

  8. brulleks says:

    I’m impressed with the length of this demo. Played for over two hours last night and still didn’t finish it. Hopefully that bodes well for the length of the finished game.

    Also, I now know that it has none of the aggravating factors that usually put me off buying a game at a higher price (constant cutscenes, poor ui, inability to access options instantly on starting the game, inability to quicksave, unintuitive controls etc).

    I shouldn’t be surprised by this as it comes from Arkane, and Dishonoured was a similarly aggravation-free game designed with PC users in mind (haven’t played the sequel so can’t comment on that), but this shows precisely why demos are a worthwhile investment for developers – I would definitely be prepared to pay a bit more for the full game having tried this.

    Also, I am somehow running it with all graphics options on full, despite having a four year old graphics card. Again, without a demo, this would have been a factor in holding off from a purchase.