The Konami – Kojima Fiasco: A Metal Gear Fan’s Perspective

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Posted April 17, 2015 by Chris White in Video Games

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In the middle of March, it was noticed by many people within the gaming community that Konami had removed Hideo Kojima’s name from all MGSV promotional artwork and the official Konami website. Corporate restructuring and Twitter account name changes (changing from @Kojima_Pro_Live to @metalgear_en)had come earlier in the month but nobody was too concerned about what this meant for the Metal Gear Solid series, it was simply assumed that these were typical company rejigs that tend to happen every now and again. However, other alterations within the company started to occur and things became a little clearer with what was actually happening. Konami changed the name of Kojima’s Los Angeles Studio to Konami Los Angeles Studio and people trying to access the Kojima Productions website were redirected to the official Metal Gear Solid one. Also, Kojima and his senior staff were no longer listed as employees of Konami and were referred to as contracted workers. Something was definitely awry. The only real contact that Hideo Kojima had with anyone was a photo on his Twitter account with the message “heading off,” in relation to his assumed firing from Konami.

On 20th March, the internet was hit with a stark realisation and a bullet of harsh truth; Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain would be the last time that Hideo Kojima and Konami would work together—not just on a MGS solid game but on any game. This shockwave threw doubt onto another huge IP that was awaiting a new release in its continuum at some point over the next few years: Silent Hills. With no real explanation other than a very corporate and empty statement issued by Konami (with a disingenuous and seemingly vapid contribution from Kojima) that outlined the future of the Metal Gear series, many fans (including myself) were left with a rather big hole in their hearts. It was official now. No rumours and no speculation, the love affair seemed over. The full statement issued was as follows:

“Thank you for your continued patronage of Konami products and services.

The latest title in the Metal Gear series, “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” will be released as planned starting on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 in North America, Latin America, and Europe, followed by Japan and Asia on Wednesday, September 2. Hideo Kojima will remain involved throughout.

Hideo Kojima stated, “I want to reassure fans that I am 100 percent involved and will continue working on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; I’m determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date. Don’t miss it!”

In addition, Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. will continue to develop and distribute top-quality content in the Metal Gear series following “MGSV: TPP.” We greatly anticipate and deeply appreciate your ongoing support for Metal Gear.

As the next step in the series, Konami has already resolved to develop a new “Metal Gear” title.

We will be conducting interviews for main staff to lead the development.”

Since the statement, Hideo Kojima has been very quiet on Twitter. He would talk quite openly about everything and anything, especially about the Metal Gear franchise but since the announcement, silence has been the preferred method of communication. On 26th March, Konami released another short statement, In it, they explained that the reason Kojima’s name was removed from MGSV was because they wanted to make sure that the Konami name was front and centre in all of their releases—a corporate rebranding if you will. Recently, Kojima’s name has been added back to a couple of Metal Gear releases (Like Snake Eater 3D and The Legacy Collection) but the whole furore hasn’t been properly addressed by anyone involved and the actual question of whether or not Kojima is still employed by Konami hasn’t ‘officially’ been announced. Throw in a couple of employee tweets saying Kojima was fired and you get a constantly messy and raw soap story that frustrates us just as much as it saddens. As a lifelong player of the Metal Gear franchise, I couldn’t help but feel slightly saddened by these revelations; without Kojima at the helm, Metal Gear just wouldn’t be the same.

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Hideo Kojima is considered by many people to be one of the greatest minds in video games. He got his break in 1987 when his top-down platformer, Metal Gear was released on the Japanese console, the MSX2 (later released on the NES). It was revolutionary—favouring a different approach to how games were played. Violence wasn’t an important part of the gameplay; in fact, Metal Gear introduced a stealth element to gaming and asked that the player used their brain more than their bullets to progress through. It spawned many more sequels up until now, but none more mind-blowing than the series’ first 3D experience on the PSone: Metal Gear Solid. Hideo is a gifted storyteller; he has a way to write intricate, interweaving storylines that don’t over-complicate or confuse but keep the player addicted to seeking out the truth and wanting to know every facet of the story. Metal Gear Solid told a tale of brothers at war, rogues and heroes, love and loss, families on the brink of collapse and nuclear devastation. It introduced a range of incredibly diverse and intriguing characters such as Otacon, Grey Fox, Meryl, Ocelot and the series’ tragic Hero, Solid Snake. All would be important parts of the saga as it continued over the years but when dramatic stories were incredibly rare in gaming, Hideo created a bona fide masterpiece that had a powerful effect on everyone that played it. The only game since Metal Gear Solid that affected me in such a way was probably Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots, another epic gaming experience by Hideo that fused (at times) 45 minute cut scenes with tense and innovative gameplay and a wonderfully engaging story. My point is, Hideo Kojima is a master of the craft and has built this huge empire by making games that push the boundaries of storytelling, game mechanics and intuitiveness.

Without Kojima being involved in Metal Gear makes no sense at all. Yes, the series can continue but it shouldn’t mess with the canon that Hideo created too drastically. I play the games for their stories and I’d assume many others do so to build on them and mess with the vision that was had for the series is a bad idea. Do not mess with Big Boss. Do not mess with Solid Snake. Do not mess with history. If Konami’s intention is to create a different world within the Metal Gear universe then maybe it could work. Maybe a story following the origins of a character like Grey Fox could work. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake fleshed out some of Frank Jaeger’s story but I’d have no qualms about playing through one of the greatest Metal Gear character’s back story. I guess the possibilities are endless but it is down to Konami to respect everything that Hideo Kojima has done for them and try to keep the essence of Metal Gear Solid at its core. As good as this game would be I don’t think it should be told by someone else.

I know I have been quite supportive of Hideo Kojima in all of this; I’m fully aware that one man hasn’t physically made these games. A whole team of hardworking individuals have strived to create these works of art but Hideo is the centrepiece of the operation and the mind that created it all. From the outside, it seems that there has been some dispute behind the future of the series; maybe it is to do with pay or different creative visions of how the company should progress when telling his stories. Maybe Hideo has finally made it clear that he no longer wants to make another Metal Gear game (and mean it this time) or maybe Konami aren’t comfortable with the way in which Kojima operates. Hell, maybe Kojima’s a diva and Konami are sick of it. I’m tired of speculating. As a fan I’m owed an honest explanation but I’m quite aware that I will probably never get it.

There are other factors that are affected as a result of the fall out. Silent Hills, the latest instalment in the Silent Hill franchise is looking very much cancelled. On March 31st, Kojima’s name was pulled from all materials to do with the game and more shade was thrown on the mess. When the ‘P.T.’ playable demo was released in August last year, thousands of computer game fans were given a revolutionary new experience and a fresh taste into a brand new horror game. As you explored the never-ending hallway in the demo, you uncovered that Mr Hideo Kojima was working together with the insanely talented movie director, Guillermo del Toro to make a new game called Silent Hills (with The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus to star!). It was genuinely terrifying and atmospherically stunning. Hideo’s Fox Engine (a game engine created by Kojima Productions to make games look better, feel better and increase efficiently in games development which will possibly stay at Konami, rather than leave with Hideo after all of this) made the visuals look like nothing I’d seen before, giving us as fans another game to add to their shopping list. Silent Hills made me very excited; two great directors coming together to create a new entry into a franchise that seemed to have lost its steam some time ago. Unfortunately, the game no longer seems to be happening and another exciting prospect has been ruined by a seemingly unnecessary break up.

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I hope that what has ensued between Konami and Kojima finds a way to work itself out and bring us some resolution in the matter. I hope that Silent Hills gets made and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s success isn’t tarnished by it all but at the moment, hope is all we really have. I wish Hideo Kojima all the best in the future and if anything, I hope it has given him the freedom to make many more games that showcase the massive talent he holds within that cray and beautiful mind of his. As for Konami, until you tell us the truth and we know the real reasons for Hideo’s apparent departure, I hope you realise what a mistake you’ve made. I hope.

 


About the Author

Chris White

Rock n' Roll Nerd, Gamer, Writer, Lover and procrastinator.