TJ Galda, senior CG supervisor at EA, believes that the future of storytelling is episodic.
“Call of Duty literally earned a billion dollars a day faster than Avatar,” he said. “Maybe we shouldn't always be trying to aim for the film [with our stories]. And I'm a film guy saying that.”
The model we should look at, Galda believes, is television. We should learn from the framework of television, and figure out how to leverage that to make games, Galda proposed. Successful television creates a world, he says, and plants the seeds to make viewers want to come back. Successful games, he hinted, also create a compelling world. You also need staff writers and a writer room, he says.
“What I'm really talking about is episodic content,” he said, arguing that instead of selling people DLC like a new sword or a hat, “let's sell stuff that people want.” Developers should sell players the next story, and the next, he says.
“It could be even a subscription model - there's some serious money here.”
Television and games can work together if you know what you're doing, Galda asserts. “Arguably if you could create a world that makes sense you've got something people want to come back to," he says.
Galda stresses the importance of story arcs. “This is what television uses as their compulsion loop,” he said. One story in one episode is the A arc, but television shows will also place a B arc, which will take place over several episodes. This compels people to stick with the series. But in games, “we don't plant arcs!” he says. “We just say 'here's a story, do you like it? Cool!' but we don't plant arcs to bring people back.”