In a recent interview with GameSpot, Hideo Kojima believes the industry is headed toward a proliferation of bite-sized gaming experiences.
GameSpot caught up with Kojima after he gave a keynote at Develop 2016 in Brighton. He explained that even though Death Stranding may not necessarily be cut up into episodic chunks, he believes that format will become prevalent, mainly because it lets developers avoid getting bogged down in lengthy and expensive production cycles.
"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 pointed to current trends in Japanese TV and film production as a model to follow. Many morning shows last 15 minutes, a palatable duration for families who enjoy watching as they eat bustle about getting ready for school and work.
"That's where I think things are headed, having five or 15-minute episodes," Kojima said. "For games, having massive, long games will become a thing of the past."
Kojima may be on to something. Telltale popularized contemporary episodic games with titles such as Back to the Future and, most popularly, The Walking Dead, though most of those episodes lasted at least a couple of hours.
Publishers of triple-A games seem to be moving in that direction as well. Kojima broke up Metal Gear Solid 5's missions into episodes complete with opening and closing credits. Capcom's Resident Evil Revelations series, an off-shoot of the core numbered games, go so far as to offer story recaps at the beginning of each chapter.
At E3 2015, Square Enix announced a remake of Final Fantasy 7. It revealed later that the game would be released as a series of full-sized games. Each of those may not be labeled as "episodes," and they'll obviously last longer than 15 minutes a pop, but the core idea of distributing an experience as smaller pieces in order to mitigate production time and costs has obvious benefits to both publishers and consumers: consumers get their hands on the games they want sooner, and publishers keep income flowing in at semi-regular intervals.