Episodic games ‘a broken business model’

Although episodic gaming has only recently been introduced to games - thanks to Valve's Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and Ritual's SiN Episodes: Emergence, distributed via online service Steam - Rein claimed that the genre is on course to destroy itself before it has even really started.

"It's a broken business model," he warned the audience, claiming that games already operated on a successful episodic formula thanks to regular franchise releases and sequels. He also said that the choice to  release games piecemeal at lower prices over the web just will not work, and will turn consumers off: "It's not feasible to bring out a level every week - you'll see a lot of recycled content. Fatigue will set in, and franchise fatigue means dimishing returns."

Despite accusations from the attending audience of developers in a Q&A that his assertions were "wrong" or "dinosaur-like", he added: "I would love to see games sell for $20 on a DVD-like model - but that won't happen in our lifetime. What scares me is people betting their business on making money out of this [episodic gaming]."

Rein also repeated his assertions made in MCV 385 (5/5/2006) that the PC games market is being killed off thanks to low-priced low-spec machines that are incapable of playing the latest cutting edge games, and laid the blame squarely at the feat of chip producer Intel. "There is a potential for catastrophic failure in the PC gaming market," he said. "If Intel left the PC graphics market we'd all be better off."


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