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Feature: 'Why Bother With Episodic Games?'

Are episodic games providing a new, blue ocean opportunity for game innovation and, indeed, sales? In today's exclusive Gamasutra editorial, GameTap vice president of content Rick S
Are episodic games providing a new, blue ocean opportunity for game innovation and, indeed, sales? In today's exclusive Gamasutra editorial, GameTap vice president of content Rick Sanchez explains his stance, by defining what an episodic game entails, and emphasizing their potential. In his intro, Sanchez lays out the tenets of episodic gaming, as compared to single-game installments, and begs the question, 'why bother?': "I recently wrote an opinion piece that promulgated GameTap’s perspective on what it takes to call a game episodic and it boils down to this: 1. Each episode stands alone but is part of a larger whole. 2. Each episode has a relatively short duration of play. 3. Episodes are delivered on a regular schedule over a defined, and relatively brief, period of time that makes up a season. This is in contrast to the approach taken by Ritual and Valve with their titles, which I would describe as more like installments in a single game rather than episodes in a series. If you can buy into these three tenants as defining rules for an episodic game series, it begs the question: why bother making episodic games at all? The answer is not an obvious one when you consider that this content model presents a lot of challenges for an industry that, historically, has not been good at producing quality content in the studio-like TV show model that episodic game development would demand. The fact that the development model for episodic games probably requires the industry to re-educate consumers on how long games should last, or even what level of visual quality to expect, is another burden. Traditional boxed software still sells, so, again, why bother with episodic games?" You can now read the full Gamasutra editorial on the subject to find out why Sanchez argues you should bother, with details on the digital consumer, opportunity for innovation, and overcoming the shrink-wrap challenge (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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