Hideo Kojima believes 'massive, long games will become a thing of the past'

The creator of Metal Gear Solid and the forthcoming Death Stranding thinks episodic games are the future.

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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.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    July 14, 2016 1:26 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Hideo Kojima believes 'massive, long games will become a thing of the past'

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      July 14, 2016 1:32 PM

      As much respect as I have for the man, Valve thought the same thing.

      /HL3 confirmed?

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        July 14, 2016 1:41 PM

        Haha. I had the same thought, but that's one (admittedly huge) example. Plenty of other companies have made it work.

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        July 14, 2016 1:59 PM

        Same ^^^, I totally disagree with Hideo.

        Just look at a prime recent example(there are many others too), so many people shit on Inside just because it was a 3 hour game, heck a lot did not even bother buy it just because of length alone and this was from last weeks release.

        Just check out the NET, social media, and most importantly Steam feedback it self, the majority want better graphics, more content, better games, longer games and all for less money.

        Resident evil tried it and so did Hitman, every time someone tries a short episodic model(aka a cop out) they get hit by a mega shit storm.

        Its my opinion the only reason you would want to shorten a game and chop it up into episodes is purely to make more money and save dev time. There is no consumer that buys and plays video games that wants this change(that I know of) it be purely for the dev/company to benefit.

        I love Hideo but in this case, no dice bro I disagree [ bows in respect ]

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          July 14, 2016 4:59 PM

          Just check out the NET, social media, and most importantly Steam feedback it self, the majority want better graphics, more content, better games, longer games

          No, vocal people on message boards and social media are saying that.

          There is decade plus of hard data telling developers that the vast majority of players don't get anywhere close to finishing single player content. Even look at something as short as the Half Life 2 episodes, the milestone achievements drop bigtime throughout the campaign. With longer games it gets much much worse. Now add increased cost of high fidelity development and it's no wonder why limits on play time are taken into consideration.

          Its my opinion the only reason you would want to shorten a game and chop it up into episodes is purely to make more money and save dev time

          Again, player data is a major factor here. That's also a very disrespectful presumption you're making there.

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            July 15, 2016 1:32 AM

            Pretty much this ^^^^. Valcan, for someone who's gone into development you should know that creating games takes time whether its long or short. Length does not equal quality. Assuming its just a cash grab is awfully shitty.

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            July 15, 2016 1:36 AM

            Yep. Telemetry is used everywhere. This isn't just blind guessing.

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      July 14, 2016 1:46 PM

      So what Hideo Kojima is saying is that you won't get much value from my games so don't buy them anymore... DONE!

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      July 14, 2016 1:46 PM

      makes sense. the risk for creating huge multi-year massive games is just too high

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        July 14, 2016 3:02 PM

        The reward can be much higher, too, though.

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          July 14, 2016 3:04 PM

          I don't even think this is true anymore, especially in the mobile space.

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            July 14, 2016 3:50 PM

            This was my thought. Games like Clash and Pokemon Go take so much less time and money to make, and have a lower risk. From a business prospective what is the gain of making a game on an Assassins Creed scale?

            Even it's it a good game, it's not gurrenteed to sale, and it's not like there's a secondary market for our hobby.

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          July 14, 2016 3:10 PM

          If you're Rockstar or Ubisoft, yeah.

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          July 14, 2016 3:14 PM

          The cost of failure can be greater, too. Major studios that outsiders thought bulletproof released a couple of duds, only to have water flood in faster than they could bail it out.

          Take a look at the industry. It's incredibly risk averse. That's why every calendar year is packed with sequels, remakes, and remasters.

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            July 14, 2016 3:23 PM

            That's why we need more big budget MMOs! We need another WoW killer.

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      July 14, 2016 1:51 PM

      PC gaming is about dead too ya know. also consoles are dead cus of iphones. oh yeah also who the hell wants to pay a monthly fee to play a video game? oh also remember multiplayer is a fad. remember too that physical media is the only way to get games and noone would ever pay for a game they can only download.

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        July 14, 2016 2:01 PM

        LOL :) this is beautiful ^^^^ [ claps hands and says "YES!" ]

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        July 14, 2016 2:10 PM

        once linux takes off later this year it's going to be a huge paradigm shift for the entire industry

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        July 14, 2016 3:54 PM

        You forgot: Single player games will be dead any day now.

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      July 14, 2016 2:18 PM

      The guy also thought having credits roll every 20 minutes in game would be a good idea... so yeah... I'm hoping that was more due to the Konami/Kojima crap going on at the time, but still.

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        July 14, 2016 8:32 PM

        At least they are skippable though, which is still a problem in many games.

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        July 15, 2016 1:07 AM

        Well I guess that ties into his whole episodic obsession.. Guys like these need to be managed! :) Someone needs to tell him NO.

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      July 14, 2016 2:35 PM

      There's a balance to be had and most of the replies on here are going off the spastic deep end. He has an very valid point and outright dismissing it is just plain ignorant.

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        July 14, 2016 3:16 PM

        How many people do you see even on here saying they're not going to buy a game because they have too many they already haven't finished or touched? Or ask about which one to buy out of a list because they can't play them all? Or have a Steam library they've never touched because they have no time?

        It's all relative and related. Mobile has exploded not just because of ease of use, but because they're less of a per play time investment, it takes less resources to create those experiences, and have a much quicker development time.

        Long games aren't ever going to disappear, but there are a vast number of ways to deliver an experience now and it's easier to move away from that format for a variety of reasons.

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        July 14, 2016 4:14 PM

        He's making essentially the same prediction as people did ten years ago. Episodic games have conspicuously failed to take over game development and sales.

        The only thing novel about what he's saying is that movies and TV shows will get substantially shorter as well.

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          July 14, 2016 4:47 PM

          You're mistakenly narrowing your focus on episodic games. Look at where mobile and indie development with smaller titles is compared to 10 years ago. It's an absolute behemoth.

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            July 14, 2016 4:55 PM

            Even then, saying episodic games have failed is untrue as well. Expecting anything to "take over" gaming is always a stupid comment because it's just reaching to try to create a straw man argument. There is clearly an appetite for episodic titles as shown by studios all over. Look at the stuff Blizzard has been doing for years now. A lot of that can be claimed as episodic as the Telltale games but on a larger scale.

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              July 14, 2016 8:19 PM

              Expecting anything to "take over" gaming is always a stupid comment because it's just reaching to try to create a straw man argument.

              That's what Kojima says, that these temporally short episodic games will become "prevalent".

              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.

              "...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.

              "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."

              I also never said episodic games have failed. They have clearly had some success for some developers. I said "Episodic games have conspicuously failed to take over game development and sales." Which is accurate, and is contrary to what some people were predicting ten years ago.

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                July 15, 2016 1:32 AM

                You're still needlessly narrowing everything down just to try to make it fit with what you think. As I already said, there will be a balance and it's already here. Shit, I've already made kids TV shows that were only 12 minutes long back in 2006. Now tons of kids shows are doing that these days.

                Just look at all things available online. Youtube channels for instance. It's ALL related, so stop pointing everything back to just episodic games. Media has already transitioned into shorter experiences where appropriate and people have verifiably shown that they in fact do enjoy it with how massive markets like mobile are. There is no denying that in any way. Yes, there will still be traditionally longer formats and they will never go away, but it's ridiculous to deny the impact that smaller offerings have had all over the market.

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                  July 15, 2016 4:35 AM

                  As I already said, there will be a balance and it's already here.

                  But that's my point? I'm judging his statements by what he actually said. What he said is silly precisely because it's so narrow and restrictive.

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          July 14, 2016 7:40 PM

          But smaller, less expensive games--for both consumers and developers--have taken over. Look at how much time console manufacturers devote to indie games on their storefronts and at trade shows like E3. Different paths, same direction.

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            July 14, 2016 8:12 PM

            That doesn't seem to be the argument he's making, though. It sounds to me like he's specifically talking about shorter games. He compares them to 15 minute morning TV shows in Japan. Indie games may have lower graphical and audio fidelity, lack things like voice overs, etc., but they're still often pretty long.

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        July 14, 2016 5:01 PM

        Yeah, so many people here are totally missing the point. Developers have more access than ever to player metrics and the data backs up his statements bigtime

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      July 14, 2016 2:55 PM

      I love Kojima's work,but I think he a bit off here,and furthermore,I feel like he's underhandedly saying that more people will have OCD. While things seem like they are heading that direction,and personally,40+ hour story driven games don't hold my interest like they use to because of other things going on in life,I don't see movies and tv shows getting shorter here in the states.

      The only thing that could possibly happen is shorter series that are relegated to some sort of streaming service. There's no way in hell American network TV would ever adopt 15 minute long shows. Same goes for American cinema adopting shorter run times.Not going to happen.

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      July 14, 2016 3:05 PM

      I bet CD Projekt really regrets making WItcher 3 so long, that might be why it sold so poorly.

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      July 14, 2016 3:09 PM

      I actually read the article and he's talking about episodic content primarily. He also says even his next game won't be one of these smaller affairs, just that he sees this as the direction the industry is going as a whole.

      Personally, I'd be very happy to get new miniature Kojima games once a year instead of once or twice a console generation.

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        July 14, 2016 3:47 PM

        I would be happy with more stuff like PT every other year instead of waiting 5-7 years for a game by him.

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      July 14, 2016 3:55 PM

      Isn't this the idea behind the half life episodes? That didn't go well. I think people used to making big games will have a harder time to adapt to such a concept.

      But then again, I would be for it. Some games feel huge for hugeness sake. Dense, more focused games like Inside feel more satisfying. Huge games like Batman Arkham Knight feel overwhelming at times in their immense scope (this is not a put down of the game--just an observation. I'm enjoying it)

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      July 14, 2016 3:56 PM

      I'm not totally sure how to take this. He might not be saying that games that are overall long are done for, more that games that demand a lot of time for a single sitting might not be as popular.

      MGSV was the biggest game he made, but most of the missions were designed to be completed in 1-2 hour increments.

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      July 14, 2016 4:00 PM

      Hey Hideo, 2006 called: They want their episodic gaming prognostications back!

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      July 14, 2016 4:04 PM

      I don't think people can get excited about waiting 5+ years between games to get abbreviated experiences. at the beginning of this console generation, most publishers thought console gaming was dead and everything was going to be mobile or on a tablet. that was incorrect.

      those devices are cool and they will always be relevant on some level, but kojima is just as wrong as the rest if he thinks mainstream gaming as it has existed will change drastically any time soon. people still want and still buy big games. if he has trouble thinking of ideas to sustain longer games, he needs to think about how to extend the life of his games in other ways.

      i'd love a frequent release of episodic content from kojima but it will just never happen.

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      July 14, 2016 4:16 PM

      Depends on the genre. 200 hours into Witcher 3, and if it ended at 201 hours it would still be too early.

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      July 14, 2016 4:52 PM

      The investment in, and development of these massive, long dongsgames he speaks of might experience some retraction as gaming trends shift and risk-averse investors and devs try to keep up, but to say they will become a thing of the past is pure hyperbole. There will always be a market for huge, dense, well-done cocksvideo games.

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        July 14, 2016 7:39 PM

        Sure, but look at today's development landscape versus 10-12 years ago. Back in 2004 when Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 were the big dogs in the yard, 20+ hour games were the norm--and both of those dragged at several junctures. Now, most "massive, long games," as Kojima describes them are nowhere near as prolific.

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          July 15, 2016 3:24 AM

          Are these games nowhere near as prolific in modern times, or are they just becoming increasingly disproportionate to the number of shorter experiences due primarily to the recent rise of indy game development? I don't believe there are fewer large-scale AAA games being made - I could name several modern game series that include tens or even hundreds of hours of gameplay right out of the gate. I do believe that there are simply a lot more games available in general these days, which all have to compete in the market space and thus "dilutes" the concentration of large-scale AAA games.

          Also, while some big name game devs may have changed their business model to favor development of shorter, more frequent game releases, those which continue to make large, long game experiences tend to avoid the slog inherent with long, linear pathways by adding density to the game with optional paths and side quests, giving the player the option to finish the meat of the game quickly, or to really absorb all the game has to offer over the course of many many hours.

          I firmly believe there will always be a profitable market for large, long AAA games. Kojima is off his rocker.

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      July 14, 2016 7:56 PM

      We're already getting shorter games due to Pre-Order Season Pass DLC (which is actually a Pre-Pre-Order (which is ACTUALLY 3-4 Pre-Pre-Orders)) available before the game even comes out.

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      July 14, 2016 8:23 PM

      I didn't ask for this.

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      July 15, 2016 12:50 AM

      I hope he stops rolling the credits and pausing on his name everytime you achieve something

      HIDEO KOJIMA WAZ HERE

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      July 15, 2016 1:05 AM

      one thing gets popular, EVERYTHING ELSE IS A THING OF THE PAST

      clearly, there is nothing wrong with this conclusion, people have the attention span of goldfish. Moving forward every game will be an F2P multiplayer VR episodic card collecting moba-style AR MMO FPS team shooter smartphone-console single player RPG GO game from now on and if you preorder now you get an iconic virtual hat but you stopped reading half way through anyway.

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      July 15, 2016 4:15 AM

      I tend to believe that games should be as long/short as they need to be and that varies from game to game.

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        July 15, 2016 6:56 AM

        Sure, but at the same time I wouldn't be sad to see less bullshit padding in some game genres.