Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2014-03-09 06:37:17
A House Divided...would be better than this
Like a lot of people, I'm a huge fan of Telltale's The Walking Dead. And, like a lot of people, I purchased the game on the Playstation 3's PSN. This has turned out to be a huge mistake - and while there is obviously a lot going on behind the scenes, I can't help but feel disappointed in Telltale Games.
Season 2, Episode 2: A House Divided is out now on just about every system known to man, including iOS, and yet it's still not out on the European PSN. It's coming out on 12 March - the rest of the world got the game between 4-6 March.
Okay, so this is a first-world problem (we have to wait an extra week, big deal etc.) but there are a few factors to consider here. Europeans already spend more on the episodes and season pass than other territories. When a company offers a season pass, it should have an aim to deliver the content to all players at the same time, give a day or two, as the developer obviously feels confident enough to take your money for a series of purchases in one swoop. Of course, once you buy the season pass you're stuck with it, so if the game isn't out on your system yet you can't just buy it elsewhere if you've bought the season pass - not unless you want to buy the same game twice. If this was any other game I wouldn't really care, but with The Walking Dead delays matter, because it's so easy to stumble upon spoilers.
Given that The Walking Dead is 99% story, this is perhaps the only kind of game - and other Telltale offerings - that really cannot afford to delay, as the moment the episodes hit and people know the new twists and turns, they're going to turn to the internet to discuss them. Already I find myself having to skim through gaming sites and message boards to avoid spoiler topics and articles entitled things like, 'Let's discuss that returning character'.
This really demonstrates how far the gaming landscape has changed. When iOS is a higher priority than players on a designated gaming console - European Playstation 3 players - there has clearly been a shift. Add into the equation the relative tight-lippedness of Telltale Games and it doesn't make for positive PR. I only found out that the release date was 12 March on this topic when a random moderator/member of staff decided to finally clue people in on page 6. It would have been nice to receive something in the way of an apology from Telltale - after all, the delay has already spoiled aspects of the episode for a whole bunch of folks, and the lack of communication hasn't been encouraging people to invest in Telltale Games again.
These delays aren't new, either. A Eurogamer article from 2012 outlined the exact same problem - it's concerning that nothing appears to have been done to avoid these delays occurring.
Episodic gaming is problematic - if you weave a curious yarn you need to come out with regular episodes to ensure that your audience remains hooked. In the case of Telltale, since their success with the first season of The Walking Dead they appear to have been slipping a bit, which is worrying considering that they're working on Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands as well.
Given that The Walking Dead was Game of the Year all over the place and thrust Telltale into a high-profile position, I think it's fair enough with their story-heavy games where spoilers really do make or break the experience that release dates for their episodes should consider players across all platforms. While I could play the game on Steam, all my saved data is on the PSN - you make a commitment with a modern choice-based Telltale game that ties you to the console you're using. I can only wait and continue to avoid spoilers to the best of my ability.
As an EU Playstation 3 player, I've already had two major spoilers hit me in the face - one from the headline of an article on a gaming website and another from a Youtube video thumbnail recommended to me by Youtube as I watched the trailer for the episode a month or so ago. Even Googling 'Walking Dead a House Divided Preview Image' to get a non-spoiler image for this article's header came up with another spoiler. Sigh.
As much as I'd like to say that I hope this won't happen again, the fact that this has been happening since 2012 doesn't fill me with much confidence.