Over the last year or two "episodic gaming" has become one of the industry's biggest buzz words, with industry giant Infogrames committing themselves to the idea, the Gathering of Developers releasing a trilogy of "Blair Witch" games, and 3DO about to unleash a whole series of short new "Heroes of Might & Magic" games. The idea behind episodic gaming is to make games more manageable - faster to produce, cheaper to buy, and quicker to complete. Instead of selling somebody a big expensive game and then maybe a budget priced mission pack for it, you produce several shorter stand-alone chapters and sell them each at a lower price.
One of the first games to truly take advantage of episodic gaming is "Siege of Avalon", a medieval fantasy role-playing game which is distributed exclusively over the internet. The first chapter is free to download, introducing you to the game's setting and plot, and including the game engine and other vital data, while each of the following five chapters will be available for just $9.95 each, or $40 for the whole lot. The second chapter is already out, with a third due to launch on Friday October 27th.
In an interview with RPG Vault, developers Digital Tome explained the benefits of this approach. "One of the greatest things about this concept is two-fold; your fans don't have to wait a long time for the saga to continue, and we encourage feedback through our Forum and we genuinely listen to what they say and incorporate many ideas that end up affecting the development of future chapters. Episodic games, if done right, can create an interactive environment like no other medium in computer games."
To find out more about the game, or to try out the first chapter for yourself, check the Siege of Avalon website.