Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, thinks that in the future most video games will be episodic.
Following Kojima’s keynote at the 2016 Develop conference held in Brighton, he spoke with GameSpot about his desire to release a Triple-A game without being part of a large company, a response to Kojima’s dramatic split from Konami. GameSpot suggested that episodic releases of games may be a cost-effective means to do so. Kojima had this to say:
“For [my next game, Death Stranding…] I’m not sure. But in the future I think this is a change that will definitely take place and I’d be interested. I don’t think movies in the future will last two hours, especially when people are already demanding more speedy experiences and delivery. So taking shorter time spans to develop, putting it out, integrating user feedback quickly, and having that freedom in game-making, I think it will apply to movies and TV too.”
Kojima goes on to discuss average movie and show length being 2 hours and 40 minutes respectively, but notes that in Japan, some morning shows are already a mere 15 minutes long. “For games,” he continues, “having massive, long games will become a thing of the past.”
Episodic gaming has proven to work in the industry, spearheaded by episodic story-based developer Telltale Games, whose Walking Dead Season 1 brought the style into the zeitgeist. Since then, Japanese developers have been playing with the format. Square Enix worked with Paris-based Dontnod to develop the successful Life Is Strange, and Kojima himself toyed with mini-movies in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which had missions complete with their own titles and credit crawls.
Overall, these are surprising sentiments to hear from Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has a world-record length, 27 minute cutscene, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain takes 44 hours to beat just the main story, 165 to complete. It will be interesting to see how far Kojima can push the medium in a totally different direction, if he commits to episodic gaming. As one of the pioneers of stealth games, big games, 3D games, story-driven games, and cinematic games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him become a pioneer of episodic games, as well.