Episodic games are nothing new. Telltale games has actually been pretty successful with their episodic story games like The Walking Dead andGame of Thrones although the game quality has been hit or miss. One of the things though that makes these games work is the choose your own adventure style story telling aspect of the games. They really aren’t action games so much as they resemble point and click adventure games.
The recent announcement by Square Enix that Final Fantasy 7 remake will be episodic sent waves of rage over the internet. Square Enix defended the decision stating that the size of the game world would make it nearly impossible to release in one installment. Hitman was removed from the playstation store with Square Enix cancelling all of the PS4 pre-orders just a few months before the expected April release due to “the configuration of the product changing significantly”. It was later announced that Hitman will become another episodic game where you purchase the first episode which is a prequel and single area for $15 with a new area and chapter being released monthly for $10 each. You could also buy a season pass for the game for $60 to save $5 off the cost of purchasing each episode individually.
So is this a problem for gamers or the gaming industry? That all depends on why these games are being made into episodes and released over a long period of time. Especially in the age where TV series commonly released as episodes over a long period of time are being released on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video all at once to encourage “binge watching”. It’s possible they are trying to lengthen the attention span to their game franchises without the need to develop multiple sequels to full length games.
The problem with this model for games is that a company can potentially exploit it. For example a developer could create a very small game and put a decent sized budget into it to attract attention and have a high quality first episode. Using the profits from the sales of that episode they create the next episode. If the episode doesn’t sell well the budget is reduced and the next episode’s quality is affected. Another scenario is what if the game just isn’t selling well at all. Does the developer have enough motivation to even finish the game?
There is the possibility of episodic games actually benefiting gamers though as well. It would be cheaper to try out a game you aren’t sure of and if you don’t like it you are only out $15 instead of $60. This could actually get people to buy new games they otherwise wouldn’t have tried due to cost.
What do you think of episodic games? Are they worth it? Will you be purchasing season passes for Hitman or Final Fantasy 7? Would you like to see more games take on this model? Comment below with your thoughts.