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Eventually, someone in the Video Game industry looked at this model and said: "Huh. Well, if TV can do it... why can't we?"
Episodic Games (or Episodic Gaming) is a relatively new model in game production and distribution, pushed forward by digital download services. Episodic games are actually more like miniseries than TV shows, but the idea is similar. Episodic games are short, cheap games (usually in the 5-10$ range), each of which tells part of the story. They take less time to develop due to their short length, so they can come out more frequently. They only tell part of a game story. However, due to their cost, if a player buys all the episodes, they still end up getting a full retail-priced game over a period of time. The idea behind releasing games episodically is fairly simple: By releasing more content over several months, gamers don't have to wait years for more new games. And by pricing them moderately, gamers can buy them and enjoy them steadily without having to put one massive-sized dent in their wallet.
It doesn't always work out perfectly, of course. Companies can have financial troubles, developers can get carried away with designing the next installment, bugs happen, and all the usual stuff that stops games from being released on time.
Because of the way it works, episodic gaming lends itself well to story-based games, such as Adventure Games. In particular, Telltale Games has been making significant bank as of late on episodic adventure games.
Games in this format include:
- Aveyond 3, a shareware RPG that comes in three installments.
- Cutie Mark Crusade, a fanmade My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Point and Click Game by Manestream Games.
- Final Fantasy IV the After Years
- Half-Life 2's Episodes were an early attempt, which are more or less infamous for the fact that the gap between Episode Two and (the mythical) Episode Three is starting to get pretty damn large (as of this writing, just over four years). Whenever Valve goes to a major expo like E3, forumites place bets on whether Episode 3 will be announced or not.
- I Miss the Sunrise
- Learning with the Pooyoos, targeted at very young children.
- MARDEK, though Development Hell problems (rewriting the entire engine twice, among other things) caused chapter 3 to be over two years late, and the experience has exhausted the developer so much that he doesn't want to continue working on it for a while.
- Penny Arcade Adventures
- King's Quest: The Silver Lining
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4
- Super Robot Wars Z 2, which is a rare physical product example.
- Wing Commander Secret Ops, based on the VISION engine used in Prophecy. It's probably the Ur Example, having come out in 1998.
- Almost everything released by Telltale Games, including: