Sony's "degradable" game trial concept shrinks your sword unless you pay up

Converting trial users into paying customers isn't just the goal of the gaming industry, but Sony apparently reckons its found at least one good way of doing it.  A patent has surfaced detailing a system whereby gamers are initially treated with the full title, but which over time progressively removes functionality.  Describing this as a "degradable" game, Sony believes by-then addicted players will then pay out for the full version.

Sony's examples range from the mundane to the comical.  In the diagram below, various playable tracks on a racing game progressively become inactive as the gamer spends more time in the trial.  In the diagram above, meanwhile, the availability of weapons – and their effectiveness – in a battle-themed title could be ramped down as the player progresses.

The benefit is that gamers get to experience the full title rather than an excerpt, and that Sony would only need to distribute one version; the "unlocking" of the full title could be done via the PSN.  Other possible time- or progress-related limitations could include reduced screen contrast and color depth, together with worsening sound effects.

[via Kotaku]