Prey creative director says Steam refunds are "like a demo already"

Bethesda rolled out a demo for Prey last week, but only for consoles: Those of us who want to play the game on PC got a system requirements post instead, and assurances that Arkane is being really, really careful to avoid a Dishonored 2 situation at release. But why them, and not us? Despite its protests, is the studio worried that Prey may stumble out of the gate? 

"It's just a resource assignment thing. We couldn't do a demo on both the console and on the PC, we had to choose. And besides, PC has Steam," Arkane co-creative director Raphael Colantonio told AusGamers. "Steam players can just return the game [prior to playing] two hours so it's like a demo already."

Except it's really not, is it? A proper demo will let you play a narrow slice of a game repeatedly, so you can take your time to futz with settings to ensure a decent experience on your particular rig. More importantly, it doesn't put any onus on the end user: You can't accidentally get stuck with a game you're not really into because you accidentally played too long, or just forgot to ask for your money back. A refund policy is a nice feature that encourages purchases, absolutely, but it's no substitute for a proper demo, and it's really kind of disingenuous to suggest otherwise. 

Colatonio reiterated his earlier comments that Prey is not a "PC port," but was developed entirely as a PC game. He also pointed out that it uses a different engine than the one that powers Dishonored 2, although he acknowledged that "we might have our own sets of problems" with it. 

"We have always developed our games on PC, we're PC developers. The thing on PC though, sometimes it's just the wrong timing. The drivers just came out at the same time as your game, or the hardware combinations out there are so numerous that we can't test absolutely everything and sometimes that's just what it is. Bad timing, bad luck," he said. "But we've worked on it a lot. I'm not saying there won't be any problem at all, but I'm pretty confident right now."   

Prey will be out on May 5. Check out the launch trailer right here.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.