One of the big buzzwords in gaming as of late has been “episodic content”, and one of the frontrunners of the episodic content movement was Ritual Entertainment, the developers behind the SiN series. Shortly after the release of Halflife 2, they released SiN Episodes: Emergence using Valve’s Source engine on Valve’s Steam network, and people were all atwitter at the idea of tiny chunklets of gaming flowing forth from the bountiful teats of developers for years to come. Of course, when you slam head first into the brickwall of corporate reality, you don’t have much time to suckle.
GameDaily has a story up regarding the purchase of Ritual by MumboJumbo, who happens to be, primarily, a casual games publisher. According to the CEO of MumboJumbo, the future for more SiN episodes is grim at best. Here’s a quote:
“The idea of acquiring Ritual was to have them strengthen our development in the casual genre and not to have them involved at all in the action style games,” Cottam explained. “If there’s an opportunity to have them do something on the SiN episodes, we would look at that, but that will not be the focus of the company. The combined companies will focus exclusively on casual, unless opportunities present themselves that we think are strategic from a business standpoint… Again, I wouldn’t close the door on [traditional games] but that’s not the primary focus.”
While he did his best to be diplomatic about it, that was textbook marketing-speak for “You will never get a new episode, and I banged your sister”.
Thus, we have the first casualty of the episodic gaming meme. Having multiple episodes only works if you can keep pumping them out, and if you can’t your customers get screwed by already having bought a fifth of a game that will never be resolved. If it had sold more than three copies, I’d pity them.