Something we have seen in more recent years is the increase in episodic gaming. I’m not talking about season gaming like with Tell Tale games. This style of gaming tends to be more related to indie titles. It works in very much the same way; the story being told in short bursts. But, the question is, is it worth the money we pay? Often these games give you a free taster with episode one but then rope you in to buy the other chapters or episodes later down the line. Sometimes this can work, but sometimes it feels we have been cheated out of more money. So, how much value do we get from episodic gaming?
Does the concept work?
Yes, and no. Episodic gaming has its benefits, obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be used. I believe that for bigger titles it can work more effectively because they can invest more time into the gameplay and story elements. This isn’t to say the indie developers can’t but shorter titles aren’t necessarily as fulfilling. However, in either case (whether it be a AAA title or a small indie game) people often can feel cheated. When the new Hitman game came out people felt they were spending a lot of money to only experience one plot line only to find out you had to pay more for the others. Ultimately, the concept falls down because although it can entice people at first, players don’t want to feel that they have to pay more than they should to be able to experience a full game.
So, is it more money?
This really depends on the game. The main issue is that people feel they are getting less for their money. If you pay out £50 for a brand new AAA title, you may only get about 5 hours of gameplay but at least (usually) its a full game. If you are being asked to fork out £15 for the first part and then £10 each for the rest of the episodes, it feels like value has gone out the window. Even though, technically, they are the same price. However, this isn’t always the case.
An indie game I played recently called Sally Face charges a lot less. The first episode being only around £2 and the consequent episodes being paid as a Season Pass for £8.99. This feels to me like it would be worth paying for. However, at this stage it isn’t certain exactly how many episodes we will be getting. And I think its this uncertainty that makes people anxious about trying it. Because, if it isn’t a good episodic gaming series, then what’s the point?
Could it be seen more in the future?
I doubt it. Episodic gaming is an easy way for developers to promise extra content but they don’t necessarily have to bring it all out within months of initial release. I see it as very spread out DLC. Sally Face even promotes the other episodes as DLC. The problem is I don’t believe you can call something DLC if it isn’t adding something extra to the game. DLC is for games that have already formed the entirety of the story in the vanilla game. DLC simply adds to this experience. In the case of episodic games, it doesn’t really work in that sense. Which is why I doubt it will be seen any more than it has in the past.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or do you think that episodic gaming is the future for the industry? Let us know.