Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
15 December 2006
Episodic SiN: failure
Almost a year ago I wrote:
Look, maybe just maybe this new SiN will set the world afire, but odds are against it. [...] Someone remind me after SiN launches to see whether it measured up to this hype.
A few days ago, I heard that Ritual (developer of SiN) was undergoing upheaval and would be focusing on games far different from SiN. This seems to confirm that information:
Jeff: Sin Episode 2...

Shawn: ...is likely not happening now. A lot of the people from the dev team have left.

Jeff: At Ritual?

Shawn: Yeah, they've gone elsewhere. They now work for other people. Some of the key people. One of the lead programmers. That's not a good sign.

Jeff: That seems like a real world thing that's going to be constantly a problem with any episodic game. How can you possibly ensure to fans or gamers that there are going to be future episodes? At any given point the team might dissolve.

Shawn: And the jury's out on why that's happening, I've personally been trying to contact the head there, Tom Mustaine, and haven't been able to get too much information. What it seems to imply, obviously, is that Sin Episode 1 didn't do well.

The transcript appears to have been made by Kotaku from the Games for Windows podcast at 1UP.com.

Let's just remember what was being said about SiN and episodic gaming back in January:
Everyone wants episodic games.
Uh. Yeah.

Labels:

--Matt Matthews at 20:22
Comment [ 7 ]

Comments on this post:

I enjoyed it, good mindless well polished fun. Shame about Ritual

By Blogger Zachary, at 18 December, 2006 01:27  

I think it's a bit silly to say that this was a failure just because there won't be an episode 2. Isn't that one of the pros of episodic gaming - to allow developers to take greater risks on less-popular properties? If Ritual had spent twice as much money to make a full Sin sequel which then sold poorly, THAT would have been a failure, and it would have likely carried even greater consequences for them. Personally, I'm glad they released Emergence; it was a fun game that was definitely worth the $15 I paid for it.

By the way, kudos to you guys for not requiring us to register to post comments. It's a rare and much appreciated feature nowadays.

By Anonymous Rolf, at 18 December, 2006 15:00  

Smaller failure.

However, I think there are plenty of scenarios where something could be a "success" and still not continue. If the project made money or sold well, the company may still not have had adequate cash flow to go forward.

Another thing to consider is that with episodic gaming, typically you would expect to see smaller numbers of purchasers for each subsequent installment than you did for the prior.

Maybe this episode did adequately, but the next one was projected to not sell enough to make it worth doing.

Alternately, maybe it did fine and the main programmer just wanted to move along to something else. When you suffer loss of key personnel, that can be the death of a project, at least for a while.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 19 December, 2006 11:57  

We see a lot of crap games not purely because of developers but because of publishers. If you've worked for a tech or software company where sales makes promises they don't have to keep, you get an idea of the kind of problems in gaming, too. Too large a scope in too little time. Changing expectations. Broken promises of support.

I don't think there's cause to crow about an independent game developer having problems or undergoing significant change. Being a curmudgeon is an amusing schtick, but come on, if episodic content could mean something good for players, then why the cynicism? Look at the mod communities, and you see what amounts to episodic content.

Of course, the selling of episodic content was somewhat exaggerated: show me a sales campaign that isn't.

Why isn't there a second episode? Is it because the team is moving on, or is the team moving on because of some other reason, including possibly lack of support for the second episode? If the publisher backed out, then what choice do they have?

I'd an older gamer with a family. I for one was looking forward to episodic content that I could finish in 6-10 hours. I've had to play some games for weeks and months to finish, if I finished at all. I've known guys my age that have quit gaming for that reason. Maybe we're just a niche market.Or maybe not.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 December, 2006 01:18  

Best comments from those posted to TFA seem to be that usually a series has more than one episode in the can before it calls itself, well, a series. We got a pilot, and for whatever reason (either the pilot didn't get picked up or, and in stark contrast to your typical LA actor, I suppose, we're supposed to think that the "actors" had better things to do when it did), never got a series.

I'm somewhat surprised. Perhaps they should go the comic book route and have guest level designers and plot authors every so often and keep it moving. You know the fan community would pitch in something fierce for not much dough.

By Blogger rufbo, at 21 December, 2006 10:58  

I think it's a bit silly to say that this was a failure just because there won't be an episode 2. Isn't that one of the pros of episodic gaming - to allow developers to take greater risks on less-popular properties?

This is an advantage for the developer and publisher, not the player. If it doesn't benefit the player, then to hell with it.

People who bought the first episode expecting to see even a single follow-up game were screwed. Maybe not directly out of money, but out of time and interest, which are just as important.

By Blogger JohnH, at 21 December, 2006 14:16  

johnh,

One way to think about how it benefits the player is that we might more original game settings, gameplay, and characters. I don't know about you, but movie tie-ins are a beating. I think publishers would rather take risks with those and tore up sequels than something new and unproven.

I don't feel screwed for buying episode 1. The point isn't that I'm dependent on future episodes to enjoy the one I have. I enjoyed playing the episode on its own and I still fire up arena mode. What emergence owners are screwed out of is the progressive development of the story, character and the game (such as more weapons).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23 December, 2006 09:57  

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