Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes PS4 PS3 PlayStation Episodic 1
Image: Push Square

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.

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