The nature of traditional video games and television tends to separate the two mediums. Watching TV is usually a relaxing, low commitment activity – something you can do while cooking, cleaning or reading. Playing video games, on the other hand, typically calls on you to be more actively engaged and focused.
Historically, the two entertainment forms have also been completely different in how they’re delivered. Traditional video games cost a fair bit of upfront money and deliver many hours of entertainment, while TV shows come as part of a complete cable package. TV Shows are episodic, sometimes with a single plot spread over several episodes, while video games have typically covered the whole story start to finish.
However, these lines are blurring. Similar to how you can buy a single TV episode or watch a program on-demand, new video game developments make it so it’s easy to purchase a game add-on, or even play an entire game digitally without needing a disc or cartridge!
A New Way of Gaming
A lot of what we’ve grown to expect from video games is changing. Modern games still feature hours of active-engagement gameplay (the actual playing of the game), but they’re delivering more passive entertainment in the form of cinematics, complete with voiceovers and intricate plots. According to a recent article by The Atlantic, even the usual video game delivery model may be changing to something a little more like television.
Large-scale online games like World of Warcraft or Everquest usually require monthly subscription fees. The subscription fee for these games often covers the cost of game updates, which feature new content, much the same way a cable TV subscription features new episodes to your favorite programs.
But online games aren’t the only ones starting to look at subscription-based pricing. Microsoft recently told The Verge it is currently using a subscription-based pricing model for Xbox 360 online memberships, perhaps indicating a shift in the industry toward more episodic content?
Wherever the industry goes, casual gaming is in a pretty good spot! The less expensive, shorter nature of casual games already lends itself to games coming in an episode-like format. There would be two big advantages for gamers if the rest of the industry shifted toward episodic delivery. Games would be produced more rapidly and cost less, and gamers would have a greater degree of choice in the content they want to buy. Ever buy an expensive game only to find out you didn’t like it? The financial blow might not have been so severe if the game were just one episode of a larger series. And if you couldn’t get enough? It wouldn’t take too long for a sequel to come out so you could enjoy even more of your favorite game!