Can A Shareware RPG Be More Fun Than Retail?
You can try a shareware RPG before you by it.
What's great about shareware RPGs is you can try them before you buy them. Every gamer has a cupboard full of games they regret buying and the reason for this is the big companies almost never release demos for their games. Selling by demo is the toughest way to sell games. A demo is either good or it isn't and if it's no good then it will sell no copies. So the big boys choose the safe route and use hype to sell the fantasy of a great game, so they can get the sales even when their games are terrible.
Enthusiasts make Shareware RPGs, not marketing gurus and that makes for better games.
The big companies use market research to decide which games are made and the game makers rarely have any input. This is how market research works: A game idea is pitched to a small group of ordinary people (that are a statistical representation of the larger population) and if they don't like the idea, it's canned. This works if you want to make a lot of money, but if you want to push the envelope and make a classic, you can forget it. Great games have to be different and different is risky and marketing people do not take risks.
So what's the result of the marketing boys taking control of the creative process? You get the same games coming out year after year. Have you noticed how they made great looking cars in the 60's and 70's and how the car designs are dull and boring these days? The reason for this is marketing people (not designers) decide which cars make it to production these days and unusual looking cars are risky. The same thing has happened to the motion picture and music industries. The suits have taken over and now we have to endure the same types of blockbuster movies and artificially produced music acts.
Retail games focus on graphics technology rather than game play.
How many games companies mention role-playing, plot and characters in their press releases these days? All they seem to talk about is how many polygons their engines can display or what shaders are used. Do great graphics make a game fun? No way! Imagine how good these games would be if they spent more time on the game rather than pushing the graphics technology?
A shareware RPG improves with time.
When big companies release a game that's it, time's money to these guys, so they'll move on to the next contract (which could be a FPS or a sports game). When a shareware RPG is made, a lot of love goes into it and in some cases the makers will constantly improve them until they reach perfection. So if you play a shareware RPG when it's first released and then play it again six months later, you can get an entirely different experience. This can make a shareware RPG great value if the makers let you download the latest improvements free of charge.
Unlike retail games, a shareware RPG can surprise you.
What's great about shareware RPGs is the people who make them are passionate about specific genres. So a shareware RPG can be set in the future, the past or an alternate present and it can even have turn based combat.