Valve uncertain about the future of episodic gaming

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Valve might be dropping the whole concept of episodic gaming once Half-Life 2: Episode 3 finally sees the light of day. While that release may seem like a distant prospect with Episode 2 still awaiting its delayed release, Gabe Newell has admitted that the conclusion of the trilogy is going to be a time for some major thinking about the company’s release philosophy. Speaking to CVG, Newell explained:

I think what we really want to do is have a couple of examples out there – Episode One, and how long it was to play and how long it took to develop, Episode Two, Portal and TF2 and then the third part of the trilogy; and then sit down with the community and say, “OK, so what do you want?”

Do you want us to do more episodes? Do you want us to really tighten down the time frames and look at the scope of what we’re doing so that that’s possible, for us to go back to the large monolithic projects?

It seems a few years ago people were whipping up episodic content as the glorious future of the games industry, but while its spiritual influence in the shape of downloadable updates to full-sized titles can’t be denied for a second, genuinely episodic games following the Half-Life 2 model haven’t been as prolific as many believed they would be by now. It seems this uncertainty about the concept is not lost on Valve. Not only are they talking about consulting fans about the kind of approach they really want, Newell has said that he wants to discuss Valve’s experiences with the format with Blizzard and Sam & Max developer Telltale Games. 

Episodic content is certainly a concept that has split gamers over the years, some loving the quicker releases and others preferring to wait for more substantial games. What do you reckon? Do you want Half-Life 2: Episode 4, 5 and 6, or given the delays that have come with previous releases, would you rather skip the hors d’oeuvres altogether and wait a while longer for a main course? 


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