The days of free demos are numbered, but that might not be as bad as it sounds.

With the upcoming Dead Rising 2: CASE ZERO DLC, Capcom’s taking a new approach to the standard demo by creating a standalone prequel experience with a price tag. From Capcom, by way of shacknews:

Ahead of the full game, Capcom will release original downloadable content exclusively on Xbox Live with Dead Rising 2: CASE ZERO. This Prologue consists of unique content not available in the full retail release of Dead Rising 2 will introduce new protagonist Chuck Greene as he and his daughter find themselves caught in the desert town of Still Creek that has been overrun with zombies. Set two years after the Willamette incident and three before the action of Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: CASE ZERO will help bridge the gap between the two titles and give players a taste of the new gameplay they will experience in Dead Rising 2 as they create combo weapons, rescue survivors and take on a ruthless Psychos [sic] before making their escape.

Note that the release specifies Xbox Live exclusivity – while Dead Rising 2 is set to appear on the 360, PC, and PS3, only Xbox Live will offer access to the new content.

Yeah, so CASE ZERO is a pretty terrible name, and not everyone fell in love with the original Dead Rising thanks to a wonky save system and flawed controls, but prequel DLC seems like a fun compromise for developers avoiding the costs of a standard demo. Since we can’t overstate the average gamer’s ability to complain: Capcom does run the risk of fans perceiving the prequel as little more than costly launch DLC, but since it’s set in a distinct environment well before the Dead Rising 2 timeline, that complaint might end up being unfounded. What do you think? Discuss on the messageboards or in the comments below.

While you’re here, check out the newest Dead Rising 2 trailer, which glosses over game’s co-op zombie destruction and weapon creation system (the fun stuff) in favor of characters and story intrigue. It looks like Dead Rising’s storytelling technique remains largely intact: