Is Kojima leaving Konami or not? The plot thickens

So here’s the deal.  Simon Parkin from The New Yorker went to Japan and attended Kojima’s farewell party.  He interviewed some Japanese developers, Ryan Payton, and others who might have some insight.  The consensus was that Japanese console development is dead for most companies, and that Kojima is therefore the last of a dying breed.  He has a photo of Kojima at the farewell party and everything.  Here’s what the article says:

Friday, October 9th, Hideo Kojima left the Tokyo offices of Konami, the video-game company where he had worked since 1986, for the last time. The departure ceremony, according to one of the hundred or so guests who attended, and who asked that I not use his name, took place at Kojima Productions, the director’s in-house studio, and was “a rather cheerful but also emotional goodbye.”

Here’s a snippet toward the end:

It’s likely that, after Kojima’s non-compete clause expires, in December, he will find a new studio and continue making lavishly produced games.


So it’s official and finished, right?  We already knew Kojima’s contract was expiring and he was on his way out.  Kojima Productions was dismantled and disbanded.  Konami is now a living hell for everyone.  This story matches up perfectly.  And yet Konami themselves are denying it.  Kojima is “on vacation” and “currently listed as an employee” according to the report, which Kotaku translated.

Konami denied that he has left the company. “Currently, Kojima and the development team are finished developing Metal Gear Solid V and are taking a long time off from work.”

When asked about the farewell party, Konami replied, “We’re not sure what kind of thing this was.”

This pretext of a “vacation” could be a way for a long fade out, but Konami insisted, “Because the development time for console games is so long and fatigue builds up, it’s common for employees to take extended periods of time off when development is finished.”

The Japanese report specifically points to The New Yorker article as being false, and says that foreign media is wrong in their understanding.  Would Konami go as far as to lie about Kojima and his team staying employed, or did Simon Parker jump the shark when he mistook a game compltion/vacation celebration with a final goodbye?  Did Kojima manage to renegotiate his terms and save everyone after the success of MGSV?  Or was this the ruse all along?  None of these seem plausible, but the experts on Twitter all seem to be scoffing at how typical this is of Konami.

The “insider sources” who talk about Kojima’s departure are all consistent on the matter, and I would be surprised if Kojima wasn’t leaving, but he himself has yet to explain.  That’s the real missing key.

Surprise: MGSV was very profitable on Day 1

So yeah, the whole Kojima Productions dismantling probably wasn’t about money.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain made $179 million globally on its opening day, according to Adobe Digital Index’s new report on gaming trends. Compare that to the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, which made $84 million globally on its opening day. Yes, The Phantom Pain made almost twice as much. So, the next time someone tells you that triple-A gaming is dying, you’re allowed to laugh in their face.

This shouldn’t be news, but of course there were countless commenters who replied to the controversy surrounding Kojima by saying MGSV’s budget was astronomical, the game would struggle to ever become profitable, etc.  Do these people realize that games cost over $60 USD each?  Did they realize that next-gen consoles have no games right now?  It will be interesting to see what the reaction is to this news.

This feat is even more impressive when you consider that Metal Gear Solid V had a cheaper budget. It cost $80 million to make, while Age of Ultron had a massive $250 million budget. And games already make more than film: Gaming will be worth $91.5 billion this year, according to research group Newzoo. Accounting firm PwC says that the movie industry will be worth $88.3 billion in 2015.

“The gaming industry is a lot bigger than most marketers realize,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director at Adobe in the report. “These games get more social buzz on opening day than most movies do, and the revenue for one of the top games this year outdid the highest-grossing movie start [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $91 million] by nearly double.”

Let’s act shocked.

Review vs. Analysis

I received an email recently from a reader who wasn’t impressed with my review.  He said that it felt like a kneejerk reaction against the game, without all of the nuance and insight that I usually give.  This was my reply to him, which may interest some of you:

My review was written as a judgment, not an analysis.  Most of my articles do not review MGS games, they study them, as you said.  For a review, however, the purpose is to decide what I personally like or dislike, and to criticize the product as a product.  MGSV is a product that costs money, and which either meets or fails to meet expectations of consumers who paid to experience it.  I am one of those consumers.  I’m not a disciple of Kojima.

If you read my actual review of MGS2, which follows at the end of my “Complete Breakdown” analysis, you’ll see that I also give it criticism in ways that I never did elsewhere.  Perhaps it’s rare, but I can simultaneously understand the deep intentions of Kojima and step back and judge his output from a more unbiased point of view.

With that said, my review is positive.  Perhaps you interpreted it as negative because you expected an analysis instead of a review.  My analysis will be in my book, and its too early for me to even get into that side of things at this point.  Once we know about what the hell happened during production with Konami and him I’ll feel more comfortable doing a meta analysis, but honestly, everyone else is pretty much on the same level as me until we hear more.

I appreciate the email and I knew that it would come off that way.  I also felt bad giving a judgment on it as a product, because my role has been an analyst for years, but that’s not nearly all I have to say about the game.  I hope you’ll look forward to a deeper analysis without judgment down the road, because I am too.

Like I said, though, I genuinely give it a positive review and don’t hate it.  Trust me that I can see the attempts at meta things better than anyone else out there, trying to be smart about the artistic intentions and the twist.  I have some important things to say about the meta aspect that I haven’t shared yet.  But i just wanted to get my EVALUATION of the PRODUCT out of the way while it was fresh, and I felt that I may as well articulate what people were experiencing.

I did pretty much insult the way it tried to be clever, but there is a sick habit going around the gaming community as a whole where people defend games based on everything except enjoyment and user experience.  We’re all experts now, familiar with behind-the-scenes production struggles, sympathizing with various creators, or even just what they represent.  “This game isn’t fun but it represents the indie scene and anti-corporate practices so I’m going to defend it!”.  But what about the experience itself?  Is it impossible to separate our view of a product from the production itself?

My REVIEW is about that 16 year old who picks up the game without knowing anything about Konami politics, but played some of the old games and wants to experience something worth their money.  My analysis will be about Kojima and the meaning of it all.

The Ideology of Torture

Mr. Sylazhov returns with his latest guest article the day before the release of Metal Gear Solid V, to examine the extremely important matter of torture, in both the real world and the fictional one Kojima uses to show his views.

The methods, reasons, and history of torture are discussed, along with a personal story that drives home the reality of the barbaric practices used by military and spy agencies around the world.  This article was finished quite a while ago, but I’m publishing it on the eve of The Phantom Pain to emphasize the seriousness of its controversial subject matter.

Warning: Some graphic content follows.

The Ideology of Torture

A personal, political, and philosophical study of torture in the MGS series and the real world

I would like to dedicate the following piece to the victims of
the dictatorship in my country, and to all victims of
political repression from any side of the political spectrum.

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Kojima and the Soviet Union

The following guest article was written by a friend and author, Alexander Sylazhov, who you ought to remember fondly from his Big Boss as Che Guevara article; I titled that article in order to highlight one of my favorite aspects of it, but it certainly went well beyond that.  I’m deeply honored to be able to present his new article, which is the kind of analysis I would love to be able to do myself.  With the upcoming release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain less than a month away, this in-depth exploration of ideology, politics, and pop culture in the Metal Gear series is a fascinating must-read from a talented writer from a different side of the world.

Expect to see more from him soon, and please check out his science fiction novel series if you want to see more from him and support his work.


Kojima and the Soviet Union

An analysis of the political overtones of the MGS series and Hideo Kojima’s ideology



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Solid Kenny presents “Seeing Things For What They Are: Rose Analysis”

Here’s something I’ve personally been anticipating for a long time.  Solid Kenny–who you may remember from his huge analysis of Metal Gear Rising –has made another video.  This one is narrated by ItsDragonBlade, and whether you’re a fan of MGS2 or a hater, it should give you a new appreciation of the Raiden-Rose relationship.  14 years after the game was released, it’s amazing that there’s still more to think about in the game.