In the video game industry, there are superstar developers that have enough clout to call for excitement about a new game. Naughty Dog has Neil Druckmann, Gearbox had Randy Pitchford, and Konami Games used to have the enigmatic Hideo Kojima. Kojima is a creative genius. He was the creator of both the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill franchises that have been the talk of the gaming community for nearly two decades. Silent Hill released in 1999 to critical acclaim, so much so that a movie series was created in the same likeness of the game. Metal Gear Solid was possibly the greatest game series that ever came out of Japan. With five core entries in the series, multiple spin-offs, and hundreds of game-of-the-year awards, Kojima’s Kojima Production studio was, at one point, the pinnacle of the gaming world. That all ended in 2015.
To preface the issues between Konami and Kojima, we have to go back to why these issues started. Remember Kojima’s Metal Gear franchise? It started way back in 1987 with Metal Gear. That was nearly a decade before the 1998 release with Konami that released to massive praise. Kojima was then provided the ability to develop his own in-house studio with Konami labeled “Kojima Productions”. This included his Fox Engine that was developed to not only service the stealth-action games of Metal Gear but other games like pure adventure games or horror games. From 1998 to 2015, Kojima Productions developed each of the Metal Gear games and the Silent Hill games whilst being produced by Konami. But, in 2015, Konami announced that “corporate restructuring”, which placed a new president into the fold, shifted focus more on mobile than on consoles or PC.
A brief aside on mobile gaming. Mobile games have a great market in the app stores of both Android and Apple because they are so cheap to both produce and manage. Microtransactions and add-ons contribute to a large part of the money that make up their returns. (I could go into more detail on this topic but I will discuss it in another post).
With that knowledge it would make sense for Konami to try and switch to production of these types of games. Especially due to the total production cost of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain amounting to a staggering $80 million. Kojima also stated that the last numbered entry in the franchise would be the last canonical entry in the franchise. Konami had other plans, however. They wanted to keep making more games in both Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid as Konami owned the rights to both. A power struggle ensued with Konami limiting access to corporate assets and Kojima Productions to Kojima. These events eventually led to the studio closing, Kojima’s name being taken off the recent Metal Gear 5 and the legacy collection that also released, and the company barring Kojima from going to the inaugural Game Awards, where he was to accept an award for Metal Gear’s success.
This pettiness leads to Kojima leaving Konami entirely and everyone else wondering where he goes from there. At 56 years of age, the genius is now in charge of the new Kojima Productions studio, which is a first-party game development company allied with Sony Worldwide Studios. He is currently developing a new title labeled Death Stranding; the game was to feature Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen.
I bet you are wondering on how Kojima was able to pull Norman Reedus into a video game production? Surprisingly, Reedus and Kojima are great friends. The two were initially set to work with each other in another game that would be directed by Guillermo del Toro. You read that right; del Toro, Kojima, and Reedus were all going to work on a game together. What happened is that Konami canceled Silent Hills. The game was to be the first return to the Silent Hill franchise in several years.
Japanese companies, specifically in video games, are very stubborn about their business practices. In the past, these companies have refused to bring certain games franchises to the West. Companies like Capcom and Platinum Games have only recently begun to open their business to western audiences in Europe and the United States. So it is no surprise that Konami would be willing to forego keeping their extremely talented game director happy in lieu of easy profits on the mobile market. I would suggest in the future that Konami try and understand its audience a bit better when it comes to the top two franchises at its disposal. If Capcom listened to fans in the west to bring back both Megaman and made a new Monster Hunter on a home console; Konami might listen to its audience and stop milking franchises they didn’t even create.
Kojima’s status as an icon in the gaming industry has earned him many awards for his past achievements and has also placed him in the prime place to create games without any corporate overhead to slow him down. Hideo Kojima is someone I look up to in the gaming industry and it would be a lifelong dream to interview him in any capacity. Hopefully, his new title, which is something akin to a total mystery, will shine a light on the total brilliance of the man who provided the world with two decades worth of video gaming splendor. What do you think about Kojima’s legendary game series? What about Konami’s underhanded business practices? Sound off in the comments below or share this post on social media.