Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes was a standalone prologue, designed to ease players into the eventual full game, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. However, speaking on the game’s ninth anniversary, auteur Hideo Kojima has revealed that he also used the release as an experiment, which could have eventually led to a broader episodic series.
Kojima explained that Ground Zeroes served as “an important introduction to root Snake’s vengeance in the main story, and the theme of Metal Gear Solid 5 is retribution”. But while it allowed the old Kojima Productions to gather valuable feedback which would help shape the development of The Phantom Pain, it was also used as a test.
“The development of a full game takes four to five years [and] times change during production,” he said. “So I thought of offering an episodic format, like a streamed drama, where one episode is produced and distributed. Ground Zeroes was meant to be an experiment. However, many people seemed to expect Ground Zeroes to be a ‘full game’ after its release, and they did not understand it. I have a feeling it was too early.”
To be fair, episodic gaming was popular at the time: Telltale, for example, was at its peak during the period, releasing regular episodes in its The Walking Dead stories. We’re not sure a series as enormous as Metal Gear Solid would work episodically, however, and while Kojima suggests the idea may have come too early, we don’t think it would fly even today.
That said, there are live service games that adopt this format now. Genshin Impact, for example, has been out for several years and is still expanding on its main story with regularly scheduled updates. So, while the model is perhaps different to what Kojima perhaps originally envisioned, it is happening to some extent within the games industry today.
[source twitter.com, via videogameschronicle.com]
As I recall, everyone really enjoyed GZ, it was the fact that it was an hour for $40 and wasn't advertised as a prologue that pissed people off
@Azex I think that's probably completely fair, yeah.
@Azex Exactly, people wouldn't have had an issue with the game if it was either longer than 4 hours or if it was reduced in price to like 10$.
@Azex yeah I enjoyed if but I rented. Wasn't paying 40 on a prologue. It's kind of funny didn't kojima originally say it was Konami who decided to release it separately?
It was poor marketing and pricing for sure. I was extremely hesitant to spend $40 on a glorified demo, then gave in and proceeded to binge it for 20+ hours completing the additional episodes and just playing around in the sandbox of a map.
Was GZ originally planned as a prologue to MGSV? Kojima never clarified that in his tweet?
It's not always the consumer who "needs to understand".
I love GZ the map is interesting and it was the last true stealth Metal Gear game.
However, Kojima contradicts himself? Or I misremember? Back in the day I am pretty sure he said it was Konami that pressured him to release Ground Zeros because Phantom Pain was way delayed...
@belmont yeah I remember him saying it was Konami who pressured him. Really like to know what all happened between him and Konami. Konami was made out to be the bad guy, but I'm starting to think there's more to the story
@Azex exactly this. And I say this as someone who was a rabbid MGS fan who enjoyed the heck out of GZ and ultimately felt I got my money's worth with the time I got out of it.
Literally the only issue was rhe pricing. As much as I have loved Kojima's work, I have to concede he loves the smell of his farts too much to have the self-awareness to realise that.
It felt like a paid demo for the base mission. The side ops stuff was entertaining for those thirsting for MGS but according to Trophies 55% beat the single mission, and 26% beat a single side op. So abit under half of those who played it bothered with more than the single mission.
Same story for Act 2 of MGS5. There is a story there but you can tell that Konami was scared of the dev-hell the game was in and set a deadline... so most of Act 2 is hard modes of prior missions that are completely optional . Same story on player engagement. About 25% of players cleared Act 1, and about 12% of all players got the mid-point trophy of the shorter Act 2.
I love Kojima, but not every idea he has is a great one. This one wasn't.
Yeah, I don't know where the Kojima and Konami half of the problem begins and ends, but a $40 intro chapter demo of a game was never a good idea. Nor is it what's viable as "episodic." Everything about that game was a mess of development and release. I think we could understand Konami trying to cash in on Kojima's endless dev cycle, but to hear it was Kojima's idea makes me like the primadonna that is Kojima even less than I already did.
No disrespect intended but Kojima is actually off his rocker big time with this one. People understood episodic releases just fine when GZ released. Just call it what it was. A paid demo/prologue. A really great demo/prologue but a demo/prologue nonetheless.
Don't blame the consumer on the game's shortcomings. Thats lame.
I still absolutely love Ground Zeroes and have very fond memories of it. It's the purest distillation of everything that's good about MGS: fantastic gameplay, clever mechanics and a wide range of ways to approach enemy encounters, with the self-indulgent cut-scenes kept to a minimum.
Mind you, I did only pay a fiver for it, a year after it released. Horses for courses and that.
I'm so tired of Kojima's pretentiousness
Wait wasn't it made to make like just and intro to the game and to make Konami give him time until he finishes the whole game!!
This man keep saying stupid ***** to sound smart... The article's title should be "Kojima says gamers are stupid"... The most narcissist game dev ever!
I think the bigger problem of GZ was that it was tightly designed and incredibly polished. Phantom Pain felt like a grindfest with a few interesting missions sprinkled across 70 or so hours.
Kinda starting to have a slight dislike for Kojima. I liked his MGS games from 1-4. But after that I feel like he has become more arrogant and doesn't take criticism very well.
Didn't he even say something along the lines of Americans not being smart enough to understand Death Stranding, or something like that?
Has Kojima ever considered the fact that some of his games just aren't that good? It's OK to have one smash hit and accept that they can't all be groundbreaking.
Reading the comment sections I see that the fart-fog is finally lifting and people are realizing how full of sh*t Kojima actually is.
@Konks Wasn't this given away on PSN? That would probably skew those numbers
Never played it, but I recall some controversy about its high price. If an episodic game is released at near to full price, you really can't be surprised when people respond negatively.
The problem was the price. Ground zeros is awesome but it should have realistically been $5
This guy straight up back stabbed David Hayter (voice of Snake / Big Boss). Hayter didn't know he didn't have the part for MGSV until the game was announced. Not a thank you, not a how do you do, just got ghosted essentially. For the most iconic voice and voice actor in video game history.
And Keifer Sutherland did a terrible job.
Yeah I don't care for this dude's opinion and I'm really curious what went on behind the scenes at Konami. Thinking they may have had some legitimate reasons to get rid of him.
Ground Zeroes was a $40 demo. Not sure pricing was Kojima's fault but seem to recall he 'blamed' the existence of Ground Zeroes on Konami in a previous interview.
Not a big fan of episodic games. I like a complete experience. I also detest cliffhanger endings.
Is it backstabbing if it's done from the front?
Kojima is an 80's action movie fanboy; always has been. He basically has a somewhat creepy obsession with "real stars" like Sutherland.
He's actually been trying to dump Hayter since at LEAST Metal Gear Solid 3. He kept demanding a "real star" instead of a traditional voice actor. Hayter actually had to REAUDITION for the MGS3 part specifically because Kojima tried to push him out!
It was only when MGSV was in production that Konami finally gave Kojima the "real star" he wanted. The absolute mess that the game became really was the last straw for both Kojima and Konami. He kept demanding a bigger budget and more time and more special perks and Konami eventually ran out of patience with him.
That's also why the game ended up being released in an unfinished state. Konami says it's not but anyone who sees the recycled last missions and the unused ending hidden in the code knows differently.
of course stupid consumers and good, misunderstood devs/publishers again...
Fair point. Well Kojima finally got his "real star". I remember hearing rumors he secretly just wanted to work with Sutherland, quality of the game be damned, but I didnt want to repeat that since I couldn't confirm it (the other stuff I wrote comes from Hayter himself). Although it checks out given Kojima using his games as a vehicle to make not so subtle homages to western movies.
What always got me is they never changed the Japanese voice actor for MGSV.
Anyways, I hope Hayter gets another shot at Solid Snake or Big Boss and completely knocks it out of the park. He's absolutely down to do it and everyone is clamoring for it. Now that Kojima is canned I don't see why it can't happen.
C'mon Sony and Konami, make it happen. Give this guy some work, he's the nicest guy in the industry and down to earth.
It's just not what we wanted, not that we didn't understand.
I would have preferred this over TPP.
I'm a huge fan of the MGS series though i will admit it does have its flaws (MGS2 and MGS4 bonkers storyline!).
However, MGS5 is surrounded in controversy and rumour.
It was originally going to be episodic - similar to how HITMAN 2016 released. Although the counter argument to this is that Konami had enough of the cost of MGS5 and Ground Zero was released to claw back some of the investment.
The counter argument to this is that Kojima suspected he was on his way out and slapped his name at the front and end credits of the early missions (which then come across as episodic)
MGS5 Phantom Pain was originally going to revisit the prison island seen in Ground Zero - but was scrapped.
The game was supposed to have a third chapter set on the island with the lost children, again scrapped due to cost. This is known as mission 51.
The soundtrack was scrapped and re-done at a huge cost.
Someone bought this for me and I played it to death. Absolutely loved it. But like everyone says, the price was an issue. Should have been $20. It's a shame, because it was brilliant.
it would have been ok if they had charged $10 for it
Been my theory for the longest time that he’ll end up doing the episodic releases with his Xbox game Overdose…which surely works better on a subscription services.
Frankly I think it would be pretty awesome if it’s released almost like a weekly event…akin to a tv show. Generating conversation each month rather than just the month of an initial release.
The danger is having huge gaps between releases
I for one would love episodic games, where content is designed with such care. I still believe episodic games can work; a publisher has to find the right price / hours of fun balance.
@Azex It was closer to 2 hours (6 including side ops), $30 and very much advertised as a prologue.
@Orpheus79V I don't believe many people would count side content towards total play time as many people finish the main mission in about an hour. It launched at $40 but quickly dropped to $30 and you are correct in that is was known to be a precursor for The Phantom Pain, I did not recall that part correctly
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