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Should an episodic adventure PC game release a shorter (very shorter) "PROLOGUE" episode for free?

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Hello, quite simple question- we are planning a "serious-drama-thriller" like (NO cartoon or stylized) "2.5D" point and click adventure game (not fully 3D, only characters and few other things in 3D, backgrounds pre-rendered). With "episodic" (rather chapter like) format 4-5 "episodes". Each "episode" (we will call them chapters or something) probably 6-8 hours of gameplaye, price probably 19,99 USD per chapter/episode. Time frame between "Chapter" releases should be probably 3-6 months (rather closer to the 6 months).
Production values quite high (full motion capture, nice realistic graphics/backgrounds, Nice realistic characters and faces, probably also facial capture; we have some experience individually, this wont be our first game)etc. It tackles some quite well known (like world known) issue/theme (so i believe its something like using some NOT well known franchise name).


My questions:
1) Is it a good idea to, besides making 4-5 regular "chapters", each around 7 hours of gameplay- released one each 6 months. Besides this, do you believe it is a good idea to release also shorter (around ONLY 1 hour (vs 7 hours)) PROLOGUE "special chapter" for FREE? As a "demo" or rather for promotion reasons? The "Prologue" would be released of course along with the 1st (regular) chapter of the game (so anyone who played the prologue for free and liked it, could imidiatelly buy the 1st chapter).
2) Im not sure if the prologue should contain the actual beggining of the story, or some prequel stuff, or (and i like this the most) would contain a rather "side story" (that is happening at the same time of main story of 1st chapter, but is only mentioned in the regular 1st chapter).

What do you think about this? Would this help to "advertise the game", whats your experience, what did you heart on this account?
(I know only about two similiar games who attempted something similiar but im not sure how it worked out for them in the end... (the games: The Lion's Song: Episode 1 - Silence  and The Descendant: Episode 1).


Whats your take on making special shorter additional "zero" chapter released for free (for promotion reasons) in story driven "episodic" adventure point and click game?

 

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Given that the most successful games these days are the ones that are "free-to-play", i.e. players can try it out without paying anything, giving away your first chapter seems like a sensible move - maybe even a mandatory one.

I think there are wider risks around episodic games - for example, the fact that nobody will buy Episode 7 if they don't already own Episodes 1-6 - but that is separate from the problem of getting them interested in the first place, and a free first chapter can help there.

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3 hours ago, the incredible smoker said:

Please correct me if i,m wrong.

Extra credits on Demos

You are not but it's a bit more complex than it doesn't work. In short in only works in very small situations and isn't worth it.

On 9/19/2017 at 9:28 PM, Ricki80 said:

PROLOGUE "special chapter" for FREE? As a "demo" or rather for promotion reasons?

Your problem is that the first chapter of a episodic adventure is not a demo, it's part of the game. People will not only judge it as a demo they will judge all of the game based on the first one.

A game gets only one introduction, no one is going to by Chapter 3 of a game they don't know, and to do a proper introduction you will need to market the game. 

So you will spend all that time and money building hype for your first episode, the release it for free and if it's bad people will never buy chapter 1, because they all remember how bad the prologue was; a loss much worse than any demo would have done.

On 9/20/2017 at 11:01 AM, Kylotan said:

Given that the most successful games these days are the ones that are "free-to-play", i.e. players can try it out without paying anything, giving away your first chapter seems like a sensible move - maybe even a mandatory one.

This is the worse part, i can confirm that players these days don't want to pay for a game upfront unless they know it's good. Even a $30 game sold at $1 will get much less players than it would if it was free and charged $1 for some kind of cosmetic.

 

The only way I can think of doing this is: Release the prologue as a link in all your blogs and marketing but never upload it to the store. That way the people who follow the development of the game can play it and tell you if it's good or not.

Then you release chapter1 to the market and advertise the game everywhere adding the link to the prologue that your die hard fans already tested for you. You focus hype and marketing on chapter1 and never release the prologue as a official part of the game, only as a teaser and as part of the advertising. That way players get there free prologue, you can claim it's not the final product and show this by never uploading it to a store.

A kind of "I don't think it's worth uploading" idea and players will automatically think that the one you uploaded to the store must be better or you would never have uploaded it.

The only problem with this idea that I see is if your chapter1 isn't good people will hate you for playing them.

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