So your ideas have left the table and the game is starting to take shape, but now the question is, how are you going to introduce it successfully on the market? Is free-to-play the way to go with paying models? Should the game be downloadable only? Or is it safer to go for a lower price ticket?
At the moment, its a question many developers slalom around, to scrap a healthy amount of sales with their games. Some argue free-to-play is the way to go, but will players still be motivated to assemble games here and there with buying items and costumes etc? On the other hand, unless a title is of blockbuster dimensions, it remains risky to release a game at full price.
What are the possibilities? Telltale games has long been experimenting episodic releases with for example the Sam and Max franchise. But since episodes sold meakly they decided to sell full seasons instead, which worked reasonably well. Gamers could take on a 5 month subscription and receive all episodes in that period.
Now what really proves to work for Telltale games is the release of the The Walking Dead game spread smartly over a number of episodes. This game series already running since April is now working to release their 3rd episode, and is quite successful. The first episode sold one million copies in 20 days over several platforms, this excluding sales from the iOs version.
The first episode takes a short 2 hours to finish, but so does every other episode. In the end, everythings adds up to a full lengthy game with some naughty cliffhangers, to link every episode genuinely. Now we have to bare in mind that 'The Walking Dead' is popular and the game is special in the fact that it effectively delivers movie-like experiences, which helps with linking the episodes. At the same time there is already a monthly comic book and a tv series in the make. In an interview with Neogamr Telltale CEO Dan Connors is questioned if this makes it easier in terms of adapting it to a game:
It doesn't make it any easier, but it makes a lot of sense; fans of The Walking Dead will be used to getting their fix on a monthly or weekly fashion. The episodic approach is cool because it allows us to do and see things that one-shot games don't get to do. First, we can provide people with a great, digestible piece of content for a relatively small price that's easily downloaded via whatever service they're using. Second, we get to see player response between episodes. From a creative side, it's great to tell a long-form story over five episodes that might take years to tell in a traditional format.
Waiting for the next episode can be a killer when you're neck-deep in the series, but in the tv industry this has proved to work. The only real deal which remains uncertain is whether gamers are ready to pay for fresh episodes releasing every month. Telltale may be better-off speeding up their releases, otherwise the patience is lost.
Episodic games is an interesting alternative to full game releases. It could work well under the condition that game experiences are not directly spoiled via episodes, and that these experiences remain homogenous throughout the entire game.
What do you think of Telltale's methods? Is there potential for new releasing models like this one?