Last week Capcom released the next game in the "Resident Evil" series, "Resident Evil Revelations 2." Unlike past installments in the franchise, "Resident Evil Revelations 2" is produced and released in an episodic format. The change in format is not surprising, Capcom in the past has always explored and experimented with different platforms and gameplay styles. However, their change to the episodic format may be the company’s way to tap into the growing trend.
The episodic format of video games is the sequential release of shorter “episodes” to create a series similar to television shows. An event is much shorter than a full title, in "Resident Evil Revelations 2’s" case, only about four hours of gameplay. The shorter chapters let game developers have more time and freedom to work on the games. In all, it will usually lead to a well-polished and relatively bug free release.
Except when it doesn’t.
That’s okay. With the next installment, designers can learn from each previous chapter. They can patch bugs and listen to player feedback.
Usually, the episodic games cost a few dollars per episode and season passes for a lump-sum for all episodes. In "Resident Evil," each of the four episodes is $5.99 and the season pass for all episodes is $25.
Game developer Telltale Games has perfected the episodic format. The critically praised and award-winning "The Walking Dead" cemented their talent for bringing intense stories to video games. The shorter episodes let the writers focus on the story telling. Telltale is also developing adding to other commercial franchises, such as a series in the world of HBO’s "Game of Thrones" and the popular sandbox game "Minecraft."
All in all, episodic format allows for more creative input into storytelling games. However, if Capcom is the first in a series of more action based developers using the format to grind out money, the format itself may lose the creative freedom.