The BBC has some entertaining episodic point-and-click web games going right now. I know about Death in Sakkara and The Seven Noble Kinsmen, at least, and there may even be more. It takes me back to thinking about good 'ol Majestic, and its own episodic nature.
A lot of the negative feedback I heard about Majestic had to do with its limited-content, episodic format: you got something like a half hour of actual gameplay per week. (This is hearsay, people who actually played Majestic, please feel free to correct me.) Death in Sakkara, on the other hand, seems to have found a warm reception, despite its similarly paltry amount of play per weekly episode. What's the difference? Well, the biggest obvious one is that the BBC games are cheap as free. Majestic raised player concerns about value-per-dollar.
Bringing it back to the good ol' Alternate Reality Gaming -- I used to think that the sheer quantity of content was why the A.I. Game was so much more highly regarded at the time. Even that was highly episodic -- Update Tuesdays and all -- but there was simply so much texture to the world. I know that's something we've tried to bring to Perplex City, as well.
But maybe it isn't about the richly textured world. Maybe it really all comes down to perceived bang per buck. Does this mean that trying to inject a dazzling number of layers of depth into your world is a wasted effort, and that at the end of the day, it won't really matter? Would an audience be just as happy with a narrower alternate reality, so long as it's free?
What an utterly depressing thought. Let's hope it's just the Nyquil talking.