It's... a new SO press release, answering your many questions...
ORIGIN is breaking all the rules with the unprecedented Internet episodic release of the next Wing Commander game. Wing Commander: Secret Ops will be available the week of August 24 and is being distributed free of charge, except for standard Internet service provider fees, via innovative weekly downloadable episodes. This is a one-of-a-kind event in the computer gaming industry. Players can download and tune into the Secret Ops experience just like they would tune in to their favorite weekly television program. With Secret Ops, players can count on a new episode to download and play each Thursday for seven straight weeks. On the days prior to each download, new interactive fiction will be posted on the Secret Ops web site (http://www.secretops.com), setting the stage for each playable episode.
The Wing Commander franchise is the longest running space-combat series in the history of computer gaming. Since its inception in 1990, the series has received numerous game of the year awards and is currently being developed into a feature film.
ORIGIN is making the first Secret Ops episode, including the Startup Kit, available on August 27 on the Secret Ops web site and on other commercial Internet sites. Stay tuned to the Secret Ops site for a list of other web sites where the Startup Kit will be available. Players will have a choice of initial downloads when the first episode becomes available on August 27:
Secret Ops Basic Startup Kit: The required startup kit consisting of the Secret Ops executable file, graphics, music and episode 1 (four missions). Approximate size: 63 MB
Secret Ops Speech Kit: An optional speech pack download (requires Basic Startup Kit) that includes in-flight comms and mission briefing audio. Approximate size: 51 MB
Secret Ops Full Startup Kit: The Basic Startup Kit and Speech Kit combined. Approximate size: 114 MB
Prior to playing the game, users will be required to fill out a short registration form. Once the registration form is filled out, the user will be given a key code onscreen and via email, which will unlock the game so it can be played. In addition, users who fill out a series of optional questions will be eligible for prizes.
Episodes 2 through 7 will be approximately 1 MB each and will be available only on the Secret Ops web site. The Internet episodic release of Secret Ops will be available for a limited time only. Secret Ops is a stand-alone game and does not require any previous Wing Commander game in order to play.