Major publishers have been progressively alienating the core gaming demographic by implementing anti-consumer measures including season passes, DLC, pre-order bonuses, microtransactions and retailer exclusive content. This raises the question, what’s next? In the past few years, story-driven titles from Telltale adopted an episodic business model which allows users to purchase the entire game in a lump sum or buy each chapter individually. Despite some scepticism, episodic games have worked incredibly well thus far as showcased by Life is Strange. One could argue it gives the consumer choice, but it greatly depends on the price per episode and total cost for the entire package over time.
Recently, Square Enix cancelled all digital pre-orders for the upcoming Hitman game without giving a clear explanation. However, the reason behind this was to make the game episodic and offer “a living game that will expand and evolve over time”. The news was announced on the Hitman blog which reads:
“After a lot of consideration, we decided to take the full leap and publish Hitman as a truly episodic game experience with a major live component. It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we fully acknowledge that the decision may frustrate some players. But it is a shift that we believe will ensure the best possible foundation for this game and the future of Hitman.”
Each episode will cost $10 each while the initial release, including the prologue, is priced at $15. When all the episodes are totalled up, the final cost comes to $65. If you decide to buy the full package, it will set you back $60. Thankfully, Hitman isn’t going to feature any microtransactions and when all the episodes have been released, there will be a physical edition for purchase.
Do you have any issues with episodic releases, or feel they give the consumer more choice?