Fable designer Peter Molyneux says demos are “the death knell of experiences,” so he’s experimenting with a new way to entice gamers that might sound awfully familiar to the old-timers in the crowd.

The episodic release of Fable 2 debuted on Xbox Live yesterday, giving the multitudes of gamers who haven’t yet sampled its delights the opportunity to do so in small, easily digestible bites. The reason for doing all this a year after the game was first released, Molyneux said, was simple: He wanted to get it out to more people but he just doesn’t like demos. At all.

“I hate demos. I think demos are the death knell of experiences,” he said in an interview with Edge. “Over the years I’ve done demos and they’ve either completely ruined the game, given too much to the player, or they’ve confused people, so I said that we should give away the very first 45 minutes of the game, completely free, and just before you get to Bowerstone up comes this message saying, ‘If you want to continue playing press this button, but if you want to buy the rest of the game, press this’. So people that are interested but don’t want to commit to the full purchase can play more, and people that are into it can buy all of it, and they don’t lose experience or gold they’ve collected.”

Now call me crazy if you like but Molyneux’s plan to attract new gamers to Fable sounds very much to me like one that was popular a couple decades ago. I remember back in, oh, 1993 or so, playing a game that was broken up into three chapters, the first of which was free; if you liked it, you could order a copy of the full game from the developer. The guys who made it did pretty well for themselves – bought a couple of Ferraris, as I recall – but for one reason or another that method of game distribution fell by the wayside years ago. I think it’d be fantastic to see it make a comeback but as far as ideas go, Molyneux isn’t breaking any new ground here.

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