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Letters To The Editor: 'Pirate Episodes'

Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor, so here's the newest weekly round
Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor, so here's the newest weekly roundup, with some of the reactions you might have missed. Click through on each link (free reg. req.) for the full Letter. This week generated a number of reactions to GameTap VP Rick Sanchez's recent feature that asked, Why Bother With Episodic Games? Reader Zack Langleuf wrote in to say that though it's true PC game sales may be lagging compared to their console counterparts along with rising costs, it's manufacturers, not consumers, behind the rise: "Game developers and hardware manufacturers (This means ALL hardware manufacturers, Nintendo, ATI, Nvidia, etc) are the ones who are driving gaming's costs up. Gamers didn't get up and rebel one day and say "I need to upgrade my console or my video card because the graphics suck and I wont buy any more games". Companies did that. Companies have enormous power to shape and influence the market, they control what hardware is released. The truth is the hardware market is what drives game development costs through the roof, not gamers. And I'm sick and tired of hearing whining developers and their companies complain about the gaming market, when they created the situation they are currently in. Developers should have rebelled against the release of the PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii... was there really any need to INCREASE development costs again for developers for marginal improvement in graphics?" Ian Schreiber wonders, too, if an episodic TV model doesn't leave the door open to a frustration that TV viewers have often experienced: "In particular, games are an investment of both time and money. If you're already committing to a 40-hour gameplay experience (whether it be in a "season" or not), you would not want to buy the first two "episodes" or the "pilot" only to find that you really like it but that the game is being canceled because it didn't get good ratings. Who wants to play through just the first two levels of Quake, if there's no guarantee that the rest will ever get released?" And Perry McDowell thinks the episodic model could have more serious implications: "One area where episodic games have great promise that wasn't covered in the article is "serious games," those designed to teach the player a knowledge or skill. By making small, cheap episodes that teach small bits, it gives the continually cash strapped education market a chance to build games and prove their worth. What doesn't teach can be improved for follow-on episodes. Additionally, since most learning is best delivered in small, focused packages, episodic games provide a natural way to teach one or two learning objectives and test the learner's comprehension before moving on to more material." Finally, Tom Newman, adding more comments to the recent opinion piece in defense of game piracy, says there's one other form of piracy that goes overlooked: "The most annoying form of piracy that is often never addressed is when one developer does it to another. Every time a game breaks new ground, almost every major publisher comes out with a "pirated" version; same exact core game, but with different details. This trend started with Pong, went rampant with Pac Man, and still goes on today with titles like Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, and Metal Gear Solid. Instead of calling it piracy though, they just call it a new genre." For more reactions to the piracy and episodic games debates to be read and responded to, visit our letters page.

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