Konami finally makes it official, and Kojima does too!

 

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Hideo Kojima is creating a new independent studio named “KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS” and has already made a deal with PlayStation for a “collaboration” on a new project.  This confirms reports from just a few hours ago, and means a new era of Kojima works are on the way.  We can assume that his old team is joining him, which means we should expect extremely high quality and solid development times; especially since Konami was pretty notorious for having an awful work environment for creators to begin with, and that is no longer a problem.

Of course, this is the best possible news in the wake of the Konami fiasco.  They are undoubtedly very jealous of this, and were acting out of spite against him until now — using all of their legal power to hold him down until the very last second.  I have to admit, I can still hardly believe how absurd they behaved, even for as cynical as I am.  Then again, I also never thought that his departure from Konami would be a bad thing, because — as we can clearly see today — he is perfectly fine without them.  In fact, he leveled up in the process, judging by that sweet beard.

Will the next title be anywhere near as fascinating as a new Metal Gear?  Not from a “meta” angle, I’m sure.  But I’m a fan of Kojima’s work in general, so I am very excited to see what he comes up with.  Personally, I hope he builds a new fictional universe that’s filled with social commentary and philosophy, and grounded in solid action/adventure genre that his team knows best, not some risky attempt to be a futurist.  Kojima might have so many pent up gimmicks in his brain that he won’t be able to resist making some PlayStation VR technology showcase requiring 3 peripherals to even experience properly.  (According to the new badass logo, he might want to pursue stuff you wear on your head.  That is supposed to be a robotic knight’s helmet right?)

Right now I’m focused on my book about Kojima and the Metal Gear series (although it also includes Snatcher, Policenauts, and spinoff games!) so if you want to truly appreciate his life and legacy until today, you have something amazing to look forward to still.  Not bad timing, I must say!  My deep interpretation of the series has only been reinforced by evidence over the years, and the book pushes everything to a new level.  I’m very excited to share it with you, as I stay tuned what comes next.

Let’s also have a moment of silence for the great, fun, and promising ruse theories, which spoke to so many people’s imaginations as well as their high regard for Kojima’s trickster legacy.  He was in a league of his own, and if there was ever a creator who could have somehow pulled a ruse on that scale it would have been him!  Since I no longer have any choice but to believe all of the negative reports and rumors in the past, I have to wonder even more what was truly behind the conflict and toxicity.  Maybe it will come out in the wash.

Nikkei says Kojima is gone, and already making new studio

Add another big tally to the “Not A Ruse” side.  Major Japanese news outlet Nikkei is not only confirming that Kojima has left Konami, but that he’s already opening a new studio and talking with Sony about exclusivity rights.  Polygon relayed the info like this:

According to Nikkei, Kojima is establishing a new studio and is in talks with PlayStation maker Sony Computer Entertainment.

In October, The New Yorker reported that Kojima was leaving Konami and that his non-compete clause would end in December. Konami refuted the report, saying that Kojima was still an employee.

Kojima’s relationship with Konami began to show strain in March, when the publisher announced a corporate restructuring and removed Kojima Productions’ branding from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain promotional materials. The following month, Konami canceled Kojima’s collaboration with Guillermo del Toro, Silent Hills, suggesting further turmoil. Later, in July, Kojima Productions was reportedly disbanded.

Polygon has reached out to Konami for comment on Nikkei’s report and will update with any new details.

We need the official Konami response so that we can hopefully let go of the painful feeling and begin the healing process.  I’d make an MGSV reference, but right now it’s more of an open wound than a “phantom pain”.  I’m reminded of the tweet Kojima made about letting go and moving forward…

kojima blank space tweet

 

This was translated by @JunkerHQNet here.

4chan doubles down on the trolling theory

I was a big proponent of the theory that everything involving the pre-MGSV-release clash between Konami and Kojima was a ruse designed to generate hype for the game.  After its release, and the obvious sense that the game isn’t finished, I took the stance that even if the rumors and buzz about development problems were faked, it isn’t really clever or funny anymore.  There’s no denying that Ground Zeroes foreshadowed Kojima’s persecution, but I thought MGSV itself was supposed to save the day and give us a satisfying conclusion.  Thanks to that, my feeling is more ambivalent and I’m not sure what to believe.  I just want the full story — both behind the scenes, and in MGSV.  The “Never Be Game Over” folks failed to turn up any clues, and the official MGS twitter is pressuring people to disarm all the nukes in the FOB mode of the game, suggesting that there’s still something important left to do, but when are we going to get the truth?

Some of the good people at 4chan are doubling down on the theory, though.  This image compiles a bunch of extremely interesting discussion regarding Kojima’s situation and the possibility of an ultimate ruse happening now.  Most interesting to me is the amount of overlap with MGS2.

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Video Game Awards and Kojima

Hideo Kojima was legally prevented from attending the Video Game Awards yesterday.  During the ceremony MGSV won an award for Best Action/Adventure Game, and Keifer Sutherland went up to accept it on Kojima’s behalf.  (Sutherland noted that Metal Gear Solid fans are the most devoted of any he’s ever seen, saying that of all the things he’s done in the past, the only posters he seems to sign are for Snake in MGS.)

Here‘s what Keighley said about the situation afterward:

“Mr. Kojima had every intention of being with us tonight, but unfortunately he was informed by a lawyer representing Konami just recently that he would not be allowed to travel to tonight’s award ceremony to accept any awards.  He’s still under employment contract and it’s disappointing — it’s inconceivable to me that an artist like Hideo would not be allowed to come here and celebrate with his peers and his fellow teammates.  Such an incredible game, is Metal Gear Solid 5, but that’s the situation we’re in.  Hideo is in Tokyo right now, watching the show, so I want you to know, Hideo, that we’re thinking of you, and we miss you.  We hope to see you at The Game Awards 2016.”

Clearly this is the most pathetic move yet by Konami.  It truly does seem like pure animosity toward Kojima, which begs the question of what exactly he did to piss them off so much.  The game has sold incredibly well, and obviously it won an award, so it is mind-boggling why things would continue to drag out in such an ugly fashion.

I can’t wait to find out what the hell is going on yet.

Also, Jade Raymond — who many speculate was drunk at the event — took a moment to spit on the decision to replace David Hayter in Metal Gear Solid V.  Here’s a video of that.  I don’t see this as a jab at Sutherland, just pent up disbelief that Hayter was rudely snubbed for the role.

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.