The Black Crown: interactive fiction or just another game?

Random House just released figures for its interactive fiction game (they call it "speculative fiction") Black Crown. Since its release in May 2013 about 6,000 users have registered for the free game, and about 5% of the total have spent money to "open" additional story lines.


Developer Dan Franklin says he hopes usage will be at least three to four times that as the story evolves. Currently the story is about 65% complete and should be finished by September 2013. At that time they will determine if it gets a second season renewal like a television show. 


It is interesting to see media merge like this, but one has to wonder about the business model and what are they ultimately trying to sell. No one does things for free. Using virtual currency for new story lines sounds kind of like selling a pie one slice at a time, which is okay if you like that sort of thing, but if you are presenting an actual novel or story in this fashion it be both irritating and expensive to the reader/player.


Random House owns all the rights but hasn't tipped to what it plans to do with the franchise. That's not surprising since most publishers these days are pretty confused about new media in general. 


Here is a link to the game itself (click the picture below). If you try it, please come back and give your impressions. The story has gotten good reviews so far. It will be interesting to see if this sparks any other similar publishing/game projects.