Tales Of Monkey Island Demo, Pricing Difference

By John Walker on July 8th, 2009 at 8:52 am.

I want a spin-off where you play as Le Chuck.

The demo for the first Tales of Monkey Island episodic adventure is available now. As indeed is the game. It seems so soon after the first announcement that it exists. This time you don’t appear to be able to buy the episodes separately. Instead Telltale want you to commit to the full five episode series in one purchase.

But put your arms back down. It works out cheaper. Whereas buying each of the five chapters would usually cost you $44.25, as one they’re $34.95. (The Steam UK prices work out similarly, at £25 rather than £30.) Well, cheaper unless you decided you didn’t enjoy a chapter and wouldn’t buy any more, I guess. There’s no doubting it’s an odd approach to being episodic – certainly Telltale have meddled with purchasing options in the past (rather upsetting people with a sudden change in pricing policy for the final episode of the Strong Bad games), and they seem very keen to encourage people to buy the full load of Wallace & Gromit games in one go, only offering the bundle on Steam. But this seems to be the first time there’s been no option at all to pick up just the one chapter.

Of course, this might change in the next few days. Initial enthusiasm for people wanting to play the new Monkey Island content created by Dave Grossman and Mike Stemmle would likely see them buying it in whatever form is available. But then we’re not often impressed with this sort of thing. Of course, there’s also the rather strong argument that these are not going to be individual stories, but rather a five-part serial. It wouldn’t make sense to play episode 3 without playing the others, we’re assured. (Sell it as one full game, then?)

Any how, the point is, there’s a demo out so you can see whether this is going to raise your heart or see you ranting on forums about how they’ve ruined Guybrush’s hair, etc. I’ve not had a chance to play the full episode yet, annoyingly, but from a quick go at the demo I’m pleased to report the voice acting from the regular cast is superb, and the design is a happy compromise between Telltale’s familiar engine and a traditional LucasArts motif. In fact, it’s really rather lovely just to see the LucasArts logo at the beginning of a Telltale game. It’s like seeing Pepsi holding hands with Coke. Maybe, sniff, one day we’ll all get along.

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152 Comments »

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  1. dishwasherlove says:

    Makes sense in the long run.. but why not just delay it another 6 months and release all the episodes together as a full sequel.

    I guess the best way to look at it is you pay for a full game and get the play the first 20% now… and wait for the rest.

    But it shouldn’t matter as the content on offer is superb. The best compliment is it feels like a Monkey Island game.. and one of the good ones too!

  2. negativedge says:

    What they say: “You cannot purchase individual episodes of our episodic game.”

    What they mean: “Our game sucks and we wish to sucker you into buying more than you would ever want based on brand strength.”

  3. Mike says:

    Is this actually episodic? Isn’t it just a very slowly-released full game?

  4. John Walker says:

    negativedge – word on the first chapter is that it’s very good. Which slightly punctures your conspiracy.

  5. MrBejeebus says:

    When they try things like this on me it puts me off, why can’t they just price it like they usually do, and let me try out individual things!

  6. bansama says:

    Sadly the telltale demos aren’t long enough to really judge if you’d like a full series. Why can’t they just sell the first episode separately and the subsequent ones as a pack? That method works perfectly well for DVD releases of TV shows so why not at least attempt it for games too?

  7. Owen says:

    But can you still pinch Wally’s monocle and watch the poor little bugger scrabbling around for it?! :)

  8. tKe says:

    I prefer the idea of episodic content over releasing it as a full sequel. The devs get to focus on each episode at a time, including QA and bug fixing (we hope…). This should lead to better quality releases.

    Although it would be nice to buy each episode individually, most people will play through MI content even if it is terrible (See MI4) so they’d mostly be buying all the eps anyway.

  9. Optimaximal says:

    Telltale didn’t start offering W&G episodes individually until around the release of episode 2. They seem to just be working on the principle of ‘those who can’t wait will just buy the whole lot’.

    Makes sense in the long run.. but why not just delay it another 6 months and release all the episodes together as a full sequel.

    Telltale are still essentially an indie developer – they can’t afford to finance a big, full game – by contrast, episodes allow them to get a constant revenue stream going.

  10. Jezebeau says:

    Pay in full now to get the first of your five episodes isn’t a constant revenue stream; it’s an advance.

  11. Elman says:

    I loved the first Sam&Max episode, but then they started getting shorter and reusing the same props and characters over and over and over and over again, and I stopped playing them.

    So yeah, a good first chapter doesn’t mean much.

  12. negativedge says:

    @Walker

    Not to sound like a jackass, but let’s just say I’m dubious of the video game media’s ability to discern quality when it comes to updates of old favorites. All this game needs is some cartoony effects, a ready made laugh or two, a puzzle involving the mouse and an object and the name Guybrush to generate positive buzz. People can and do mail in 8/10 reviews of this kind of stuff. PR monkeys do most of the grunt work.

  13. negativedge says:

    But it’s not really about quality anyway – we both know that. It’s about money. They have a brand that people recognize. The people that recognize this brand are generally hardcore gamers. The kind of gamers that will plop down X dollars (lolpounds) on that brand alone, where “X” is “whatever number they are merciful enough to charge.” The audience is largely people that would pay $40 as quickly as they’d pay $8, or whatever. Getting them to pay it over and over is a trickier proposition. There’s always something shinier on the horizon.

  14. John Walker says:

    @negatvedge

    What do you do for a living? I’d like to inform you that everyone in your industry is inept or corrupt, so we feel nicely balanced out. Thanks!

  15. negativedge says:

    Oh, come off it. These reputations are earned. I don’t just pull them out of a hat out of some vast hatred for people that enjoy video games. More importantly, they should be irrelevant to you. You shouldn’t care whether or not I purchase any given title. And you should be willing to call a spade a spade.

  16. Wulf says:

    I see the ardent and once-determined dissenters of Telltale’s joyous Tales of Monkey Island are oddly absent, where are the calls of the humour falling flat on its face, the 3D making it look shit, eh, eh?

    Methinks they’ve had a chance to play it and right now they’re trying to use a Freemanesque crowbar to coax collective foot out of mouth.

    I see the only hanger-on is coming up with absolutely bloody ludicrous tinfoilhat theories, and whose posts read like a bad X-Files episode, one revolving around the games media and apparently evil indie companies (that’s original), but a bad X-Files episode nonetheless.

    But yes, I loved it, I knew I would. It’s a bloody good job and everything I said it would be. So I have to say that dishwasherlove is absolutely right!

  17. MD says:

    It’s hardly a conspiracy theory though, is it John?

    Obviously they are offering the full pack as the sole purchase option because they think they will make more money by doing so. Given that there is a ‘discount’ on the pack as opposed to (hypothetically, I guess) purchasing the episodes individually, this only makes sense if there are a significant number of people who a) would prefer to purchase individual episodes, b) are willing to take the risk of buying the series as a whole if that’s their only option, and c) would, were they to start off by purchasing single episodes, decide to give up on the series before its end.

    Surely the enthusiasts willing to commit $35 in advance — based on little more than faith in the developer and/or hopeful nostalgia (well, admittedly there’s also a demo, but the point stands) — are unlikely to love the first two or three episodes and then mysteriously forget that the series exists. It’s a lot more likely that those who would stop buying would do so because they were disappointed in the quality of the games.

    You can argue that it’s only a smart business decision (and perhaps a necessary one, if they’ve put a lot of money into this and can’t afford a financial failure), or that suggesting they are trying to ‘sucker’ people is a harsh way of putting it, or that so far the game isn’t actually rubbish; ultimately though, they are trying to squeeze money out of fans on the strength of hype and anticipation rather than on the strength of the actual product. Which is par for the course in the videogames industry generally, but a bit diappointing to see forced into a format (episodic games) that is naturally suited to moving away from all that and allowing a more direct and fine-grained feedback relationship between quality (well, customer satisfaction) and sales.

  18. gulag says:

    @negativedge – Reputations are something specific people earn. You seem to be applying the tar brush a tad liberally.

  19. negativedge says:

    @Wulf

    You’re the only crusader here, love. I get the feeling you were more excited to yell at the “doubters” than to actually play the game.

  20. Xercies says:

    This just confirms that the whole episodic games thing was a waste since even the guys who do episodic games are slowly getting out of it. I can see maybe the 2nd game after this one be actually not in episodes.

    Now we just Needs Valves Episode 3 to signal the deathnell to this fad.

  21. negativedge says:

    And, yes, really – lets talk about the failure of episodic games. Once a novel idea that had potential to deliver a different kind of content, we’ve ended up with this: an episodic game that cannot be purchased episodically, which people are defending by saying it isn’t really episodic. The other obvious example is with Valve: originally we were to get three episodes in a year. Now we get one every two years, running on heavily modified tech and lengthened to some weird almost-but-not-quite full game status. No one really seems to know what to do with these things.

  22. negativedge says:

    Hell, at this point I’m almost certain Half Life Ep 3 will be a full game, likely on a new engine.

  23. Dante says:

    @ Negativedge

    I don’t think he’s bothered about wether you buy the game or not, he’s bothered that you’re insulting his reputation.

    @ Wulf

    Spot on, the angry internet man works best in a vacuum, where he doesn’t have to deal with annoying questions like wether it’s actually any good or not.

  24. magos says:

    Why is negative dge being mean to Mr. Walker?

    Given the fact that he in part runs this free resource for people like negative dge to complain about everything?

    Besides, any game including the word Narwhal in it’s title has to be worth the entry price for that alone.

  25. Owen says:

    @Negativedge “I don’t just pull them out of a hat out of some vast hatred for people that enjoy video games.”

    Yeah you’re clearly pulling them from somewhere else.

  26. negativedge says:

    I didn’t mention anything about Mr. Walker. I mentioned something about the profession he happens to be a part of. If it pushed his buttons it’s likely because he either knows I’m right or (more likely) he knows many people share my opinion. I have no interest in e-battling the hanger-ons that always populate places where the journo’s actually interact with Real People, so you can all stop flinging yourselves on the sword.

  27. The Apologist says:

    @negativedge – there is no doubt that the episodic gaming experiment is looking like a disappointing failure.

    My question to you is why be on a site written by games journalists just to read their view and then say that because they are inept or corrupt you are dismissing it.

    Sounds suspiciously like you had a prematurely formed view which you are now seeking to defend by casting some unwarranted aspersions at a pretty fair and reliable source of information and comment.

  28. TauQuebb says:

    It is still episodic, even if you pay for it all at once, you just happen to be getting it as its created as opposed to in one go, would still take a similar ammount of time in the end.
    From what I have seen, its fun and funny, but I had to go to work before getting too far.

    @negativedge: Don’t you have anything better to do?

    .

  29. gulag says:

    On the subject of ‘episodic games’- Focusing on those who have failed to deliver (while still delivering viable games, perhaps the more important aspect of the term) is only half the story, and builds a disingenuous argument.

    You don’t have to look to far to find developers who are doing it without a lot of fuss. Bethesda have been bevering away at ‘episodic content’ for the last year, they just don’t call it that.

    You may cite episodic games that have failed, but don’t be so quick to declare the idea dead in the water.

  30. RabidZombie says:

    negativedge, in no way can the Half Life 2 episodes be called a failure. Why? It met Valve’s goals. Get shorter half life games out faster. Hey, guess what, we have had new Half Life content faster than Half Life 2 provided it for us. Now if all initial goals are set, doesn’t that make it… a success? Just because YOU don’t like the way it’s worked doesn’t make it a failure.

    (Oh, and you’re wrong. It was 3 episodes, one PER year.)

  31. negativedge says:

    No – I have no interest in Monkey Island one way or the other. I do have an interest in the idea of reviving dead franchises and episodic content, however, and these are both highly relevant to the topic at hand.

    Again, at the risk of sounding like a jackass (oh, hell: lets get it over with. I am a jackass) I will say that I don’t come here for the opinions of the RPS crew, which are fairly out of line with my own, or for their judgments and proclamations, which I believe often times go out of their way to not say not nice things. I come here for news, flavor, interesting links, odds and ends like interviews and bits on games I’ve never heard of, all generally well written. Just because something is worth my time doesn’t mean I have to be a slavish idiot. Lets grow up a bit, here.

  32. Richard Clayton says:

    Whoa, that was the second shortest demo I’ve ever played!

    As the episodes are standalone and distinct then I have the same concerns as Elman. In a full length game we would expect object, location and line re-use but not in an episodic form. Telltale’s Sam and Max did this and it was jarring. If you pay for a new episode – you want new lines. You wouldn’t expect a sitcom to use the same lines in the same context week after week (I’m not talking overused “catchphrases” here by the way!).

    Using this business model of paying all upfront blurs the lines somewhat: are we paying for episodic distinct content or, as others have suggested, a game released in stages?

    I enjoyed the very short demo. I liked the more sophisticated inventory use but couldn’t stand the movement mechanic. What the hell is wrong with point and click the area you want the character to move to. Grrrr….

    I also worry that, because the game is going to be released in small and distinct episodes, that we’ll miss out on the epicness and the complexity of a journey/quest that we experienced in the original 2 MI games and Grim Fandango where the quest is able to tell a story rather than simply offer an hour’s worth of diversion.

    It’s still a good thing but I’ll wait for all parts to be reviewed, I think, before I take the plunge…

  33. negativedge says:

    @gulag

    Bethesda is a fair counterpoint. There are a wealth of others that subscribe to the “DLC” idea as well, with varying degrees of success, but that’s not entirely what I’m talking about. This is all stuff that is attached to a larger retail package. I wonder where the people are making original, stand alone episodic content that takes advantage of the structure. There are many indie titles that feel like they could work as episodes, but nearly all of them are one offs – experiments designed to test some idea they wish to incorporate in a longer, more traditional game.

  34. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    D/l’ing the demo atm. Still the same engine since that Texas Hold ‘Em Up game, a bit tiring…

  35. Craymen Edge says:

    Can’t we get Negative dge his own column?

    Each week he can make an uninformed and prejudicial proclamation, then get insulting with people when they point it out.

  36. Jim Rossignol says:

    Ok, that’s enough griping about people, cheers.

  37. gulag says:

    @negativedge
    DLC/episodic, call it what you like. Attached to an initial full game or stand alone; again, why make the distinction? If you narrow your critera enough that nothing currently available makes the grade, then you must be right?

  38. SanguineAngel says:

    Hi guys,

    I think people may be being a little harsh on Negativedge’s comments here. Although he is perhaps a little inflamatory, he point is a perfectally valid one.

    I.E. they are asking us to pay them an advance at a supposedly reduced price for a product that does not exits. Sure, we have episode one and it is apparently of very high quality. (I have yet to play it myself – I’ll prolly wait until they are all released and reviewed as my own quality assurence.)

    But here are the problems (which do NOT detract from how good the episode is)

    1. It is an episodic game that thus far does not allow you to purchase the episodes incrementally. It would be like having to pay up front for an entire TV series – what if you don’t like it? What if the quality drops significantly? What if it gets cencelled? You’re commited for the ling haul. Sure you could stop playing it but you’ll waste the cash. It pretty much defeats the point of the episodic format for the consumer.

    2. This reduced price is NOT a benefit over buying individually if you cannot buy them individually at all. it is simply the standard price.

    3. If you’re going to pay for the whole thing, why not release the whole thing? That’s again leaving an awful lot on trust. But more importantly, you’re paying a full game price. Instead of getting episodes, wouldn’t it make more sense for it to just be a single full game? I would have waited for that personally. In fact I intend to anyway.

    Just my thoughts. Glad Ep 1 is looking good though. I hope they keep it up!

  39. The Apologist says:

    @Jim – fair enough

    /restrains self

    @gulag – Bethesda is a good point re episodic gaming. Certainly better than HL2 ‘episodes’! I love HL2 and get excited about each new release, but they feel like mini-sequels rather than episodes to me.

    In both cases though, they are episodes coming off the back of a major release like Fallout3 or HL2. It seems that Telltale’s work on releasing games purely as series of episodes isn’t quite working, at least for their marketing people. Less episodes, more boxed set now?

  40. The_B says:

    I must admit, I was not aware you could buy W&G episodes separately – I’m almost certain I looked when Bumblebees first came out, and the only way you could get it was the whole series or nothing (heck, I added the information into a review stating this very point). So I wonder if they added that option after the release of episode 2 – and thus also add that option to this series later.

  41. Adam says:

    “Elman says:

    I loved the first Sam&Max episode, but then they started getting shorter and reusing the same props and characters over and over and over and over again, and I stopped playing them.”

    Um I’m sorry but what? Season 2 had way less repetitition and used loads more scenery than the first ones, and episodes 5 and 6 of the first season used lots of variety too.

  42. Adam says:

    The_B, you couldn’t when the first episode came out. Only near the release of episode 2. I bet the same will happen here, although from what I have played of the first game I spent my money well. The writing is fantastic as is the voice acting, and the puzzles are very good.

  43. Craymen Edge says:

    It seems like sheer number of people aniticpating the release of episode 1 brought Telltale’s site to it’s knees last night.

    So, anyone who has managed to get it today; what are the download speeds like? It took me a couple of hours to get Wallace & Gromit ep 3 when that went live.

  44. gulag says:

    I should probably clarifiy at this point that I’m very much in the ‘Huh?’ camp regarding Telltales new pricing. I think it’s mostly the marketing wags tripping over themselve to detail a ‘deal’ where no deal exists.

    I suspect that getting bogged down in the semantics of DLC/sequel/expansion/episode lends this argument more heat than it actually warrants.

  45. Miguel says:

    I own both seasons of Sam and Max and never considered buying the episodes always bought the season, I wonder if that was the case for almost everyone, if that’s the case makes sense to only offer one option and no go to the trouble of pricing all episodes individually, if not this can be attempt to force more people to buying the all season

  46. Richard Clayton says:

    @Craymen Edge

    Download was pretty swift (via 8Mb connection). I didn’t time it but 189 Mb came down quickly enough for me: 10 – 15 mins I suppose.

  47. NikRichards says:

    I think it’s quite harsh to start flinging poo in telltale’s direction.

    They’re a small developer who likes to publish its own titles where possible, selling this as a package could end up earning them less, and the demo was quite good.

    I would of thought that the likely suituation is that they could do with the capital to help fund the rest of the development. Either that or they think they can get away with turning out a terrible game, making a quick buck and ruining thier reputation.

  48. Piispa says:

    I was already heading to Steam for buying the package when the euro price of 32,99€ rised an eyebrow.

    So, once again, the yankees get the deal for 25€, brits for 28€ while the rest of us go buy a lollipop or something… no thanks, I’ll pass.

  49. The_B says:

    @Adam Thanks, I knew I wasn’t imagining it.

  50. elmuerte says:

    Did TellTale confirm that they’re not going to sell separate episodes? If not, then it’s pure speculation. Of course they want people to buy the whole lot at once, because that gives them more money to initiate the next project.