Nintendo's solution is 'kind code', which lets players skip past bits they are stuck on. But that comes at the risk of removing any sense of challenge from games. In contrast, Lionhead Studios have just come up with a more appealing way of tackling the problem with the re-release of their fantasy epic Fable II as a Xbox 360 download.
Instead of asking players to buy the whole game, Lionhead have sliced Fable II into five parts. The first is free, the rest you have to pay for.
As a result you can try the actual game for free rather than play a demo designed as a sales pitch. And you only pay for more if you want to continue playing, which if you're stuck early on means you don't need to pay for stuff you'll never see.
Since Fable II is a good game, it should work out well for Lionhead. But will others be brave enough to give away the first part of their games?
I doubt the ‘escape from the Vault’ opening of Fallout 3, which gives little hint of the greatness to come, would win many players over. And I wouldn’t have bought the rest of Halo 3: ODST, which seems to get more disappointing with every play.