The Episodic Content wiki last edited by daveyd on 05/20/14 08:15PM
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Episodic content is when the publishers of a game decide to release a game in multiple parts or episodes. Episodes are usually shorter than full games and not as expensive. Usually once all the episodes are out, the publisher releases a package with all the episodes.
Episodic content is said to have originated from a company known as Apogee (now known as 3D Realms). This game company began distributing their games in episodes, offering discounts to people who bought multiple episodes at once. It would give out the first episode for free, then make the customer pay for the rest. This was called the Apogee Model.
Special mention should be made of Valve's usage of this. Around 2005 Valve became very interested in the idea of episodic content, announcing that Half Life 2 would be followed by several episodes released on a semi-regular basis. Along with this Valve announced a revival of the title Sin, which also was to be released in episodes. Half Life 2 Episode One was released in summer 2006 while the next episode was not released until fall 2007-hardly timely. A third episode was planned but appears to be somewhat stuck in limbo and has yet to be released as of 2013. As for Sin, the game released one episode, before being abruptly canceled.
Valve's experiment in episodic gaming might of doomed the concept, however around the same time a company known as Telltale began making episodic adventure games in the Sam and Max franchise. The episodes were a hit (and released on time) and spawned several "seasons" Telltale went on to create several more episodic franchises with licenses ranging from Back to the Future to The Walking Dead. The latter which is widely as one of the best games of 2012.
Also worth noting is Sega's attempt at the episodic model with Sonic the Hedgehog 4. The "season" consists of two episodes which were released 2 years apart and appear to be wildly different games.This probably can best be explained by the negative reaction to episode 1, which to give credit is one of the advantages of doing an episodic model.