Over the weekend, Sony rolled out some new game trials to let PS5 owners try out specific games before actually committing to a purchase. It sounded great, but players soon discovered a hitch: The trials are for a limited time, and the clock starts ticking the second you click download.
It’s not yet clear how widespread or long term these new game trials will be, but Sony is currently offering them in the UK and Canada for both Death Stranding: Director’s Cut and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Per an email that recently went out to PS5 owners in those locations, the free game trials last six and five hours respectively, and will be available through October 28.
Timed demos are nothing new. Sometimes instead of carving out a specific piece of game for players to try, developers will simply give access to the whole game for a limited amount of time. Usually these demos only count the time you actually spend playing them, however. Not so with these new Sony trials.
“Once you hit download you’ll get a limited amount of time to play the game, whether you play or not,” reads Sony’s email announcing them. In other words, Sony isn’t hiding this weird caveat, but it’s still counterintuitive enough that it’s caught a lot of players by surprise.
Starts downloading the Sackboy:A Big Adventure "free trial" last night, ready to play this morning. Goes to play it and the trial has expired. You get 5 hours the moment it starts downloading. Please change this @PlayStation pic.twitter.com/6LCXjd87Hn— Richard Breslin | BDes(Hons) Games Dev & DigiMedia (@Solidus5nake) October 3, 2021
“Before going to bed, I started the download for the Sackboy: A Big Adventure trial so that I and my son could play the game in the morning,” wrote Richard Breslin at GameByte. “Upon waking up, I checked to see if the game had fully downloaded. Thankfully, it had. Sadly, we could not access the game.”
It would be one (frankly still bizarre) thing if Sony started the countdown immediately after the game was fully downloaded. Starting it in the middle of it is even weirder. Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is 69GB. A wired PS5 is still going to take a decent chunk of time to download it, and if you’re relying on Wi-Fi, or live in a place with slower internet speeds, it could take hours.
Game demos used to be more common in the days of the PS3 and Xbox 360, and while they’ve made a slight comeback in recent years, they’re still far from the norm, replaced instead by weekend beta tests or made obsolete altogether by services like Game Pass. Sony’s PS Now library still lags far behind Microsoft’s hit service, so game trials are a smart way to fill that gap in the meantime, though perhaps not with these kinds of draconian limitations.