Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Episodic GTA

A recent article on CNN money discusses the fact that Rockstar is taking the GTA series episodic, producing two smaller releases for the Xbox 360. This is big news as Rockstar would arguably be the biggest developer yet to take a mainstream franchise in the direction of an episodic release model instead of the typical large release every 2 years or so (if you don't consider Valve as the first to do so with Half Life 2: Episode One). Perhaps with Rockstar going this way we will find out some hard numbers on whether episodic releases work as Valve's reluctance to release sales data (since they make many sales through Steam) really puts a fog over the whole concept. (Do groups like NPD track online transactions btw?)

Interestingly, in this month's Computer Gaming World, there is an interview with Mark Rein of Epic Games who states that he thinks episodic gaming is doomed for many smaller developers, and only the big production studios will be able to make it work.

So are we working towards a fragmented gamespace, where every single interaction requires your credit card? Many times when people discuss this, they completely fail to mention that many games started out in the arcades of yore (the good ones, not the ones that suck today). Inserting a quarter to play 2 minutes longer is nothing more than a micro transaction before people even knew what that was.

Now if only somebody could set up something online that doesn't require me to fill out 20 different fields so that I can virtually insert that quarter into whatever game I am playing at the moment (is Xbox Live like this now?). If it was general purpose and solely tied to the web and was not on a proprietary platform then I think we could see a wave of this type of gaming coming (Google Wallet?).

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