Konami, Kojima, and the Future

Kojima Productions has been shut down, and Hideo Kojima is off the executive board of Konami. How bad could it be? Here is our best case scenario

Konami_Corporation_Entrance

The gam­ing world was shocked re­cent­ly with the sud­den news that video game de­vel­op­er and pub­lish­er Konami had made changes to their ex­ec­u­tive board mem­bers list­ing, tak­ing off the pro­lif­ic Hideo Kojima and oth­er mem­bers of Kojima Productions. Following this, Konami start­ed to re­move “A Hideo Kojima Game” from mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als for Metal Gear Solid, and they shut­tered Kojima Productions, re­nam­ing the L.A. branch to the gener­ic Konami Los Angeles Studios. While an anony­mous source told Gamespot that there was some bad blood, I feel that the doom and gloom procla­ma­tions are a bit over­stat­ed. Let’s spec­u­late a lit­tle on the fu­ture.

We’ll take what is known for cer­tain, in­stead of pro­ject­ing ex­pec­ta­tions off non-verified sources. These anony­mous re­port­ings could very well be true, ren­der­ing my spec­u­la­tion point­less. I still feel it is of val­ue to look at this from just the officially-known data.

It’s no se­cret that a large por­tion of Konami’s prof­its are due di­rect­ly to Kojima Productions. Metal Gear Solid has been a hot sell­er and con­sole push­er in the past, with even the ill-received Ground Zeroes sell­ing over 1 mil­lion units. That would make me think twice about sev­er­ing ties in a way that burns bridges if I were on the Konami side of the equa­tion. While it is true that Kojima and oth­er mem­bers of Kojima Productions were tak­en off the ex­ec­u­tive list­ing at Konami, they were not nec­es­sar­i­ly fired be­cause they have be­come con­trac­tors there for the time be­ing.

While this could just mean that that the staff is on call to as­sist with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as it gets out the doors, I feel they are keep­ing this as a work­ing busi­ness re­la­tion­ship for more than just that one ti­tle.

A Konami rep­re­sen­ta­tive speak­ing to IGN com­ment­ed on the change:

As we have al­ready an­nounced, we are shift­ing our pro­duc­tion struc­ture to a headquarters-controlled sys­tem, in or­der to es­tab­lish a stead­fast op­er­at­ing base ca­pa­ble of re­spond­ing to the rapid mar­ket changes that sur­round our dig­i­tal en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness. Konami Digital Entertainment (in­clud­ing Mr. Kojima), will con­tin­ue to de­vel­op and sup­port Metal Gear prod­ucts. Please look for­ward to fu­ture an­nounce­ments.”

(Emphasis added by au­thor)

We al­ready know af­ter the joint press re­lease from Konami and Kojima that Konami will be con­tin­u­ing the Metal Gear se­ries and has start­ed to look for new staff to do so. The above quote im­plies that Konami will still be work­ing with Kojima as a con­sul­tant, even if di­rect pro­duc­tion of the games are not in his hands. Let’s face it, Mr. Kojima has want­ed to step away from Metal Gear Solid for some time and this seems to fi­nal­ly be his chance to leave the helm.

There is the mat­ter of Kojima’s name be­ing re­moved from mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als for Metal Gear Solid on Konami’s prod­uct pages for the games and their on­line sales fronts. On the sur­face this seems dire, but if looked at from a busi­ness and brand­ing per­spec­tive, it can make more sense and not seem as hos­tile a move as some are mak­ing it out to be

At this point Kojima is a brand. He has made a name for him­self with his writ­ing and di­rec­tion on many crit­i­cal­ly ac­claimed IPs, and he has pushed the tech­ni­cal bound­aries of gam­ing hard­ware for decades. The Fox Engine is a con­tin­u­a­tion of this brand lega­cy, and I feel all this gives Kojima a lot of lee­way in the in­dus­try. Removing his name from Konami prop­er­ties frees up Hideo Kojima to as­sert him­self as his own brand in the fu­ture. This, to me, is a win-win. Konami can as­sert own­er­ship of the Metal Gear fran­chise, and Kojima can go on to more freely as­sert his cre­ative in­flu­ence out­side Konami projects.

I have no doubt in my mind that Hideo Kojima and his team will con­tin­ue to make games. While it’s true Konami has closed up their Kojima Productions house, this just leaves the door open for Kojima and team to open their own in­de­pen­dent op­er­a­tion, pos­si­bly even un­der the same name. They can pro­duce their own IPs, con­sult with oth­er stu­dios on games (i.e. Metal Gear), and branch out as they so choose. I wouldn’t even be sur­prised to see movies come from Hideo in such an sce­nario.

This does seem to leave the fu­ture a tad more bright and cheery than pre­vi­ous­ly spec­u­lat­ed, but there is a hang­nail of sorts in my mind. So far all of­fi­cial talk has not spo­ken of Kojima’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Guillermo del Toro on the up­com­ing Silent Hills project that was teased last year in the well mar­ket­ed P.T.

Why do these events even have to put a hitch in those plans? What do we know for cer­tain at this point? That Kojima is not an ex­ec­u­tive at Konami any­more but is a con­trac­tor that will work with Konami on fu­ture projects. Kojima is slat­ed to be di­rec­tor on Silent Hills, and you do not need to be on the ex­ec­u­tive board of a com­pa­ny to be the di­rec­tor of a game. I see no rea­son why this arrange­ment has to end, as Kojima seemed very ex­cit­ed to work on Silent Hills.

Maybe it’s just shock at the news. Maybe I am just an op­ti­mist and read­ing too much into busi­ness de­ci­sions… but I don’t feel the fu­ture is all doom and gloom here. Granted this is all spec­u­la­tion on my part from lim­it­ed in­tel, but I feel this does not need to spell the end of cer­tain prop­er­ties we have been look­ing for­ward to. In fact the fu­ture could be bet­ter than ever now for Kojima and crew as they are now free to em­bark on any voy­ages they want with­out hav­ing to an­swer to Konami cor­po­rate in­ter­ests.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to hear what comes of this in the fu­ture, and we’ll keep you post­ed here at Super Nerd Land.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent be­low.
Josh Bray
Josh has worked in IT for over 15 years. Graduated Broadcasting school in 2012 with a fo­cus on A/V pro­duc­tion. Amateur pho­tog­ra­ph­er with a pas­sion to make things work… by any means nec­es­sary. Editor-in-Chief and do-er of tech things at SuperNerdLand
Josh Bray

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