Konami finally makes it official, and Kojima does too!

 

kojimaproductions

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.

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.

Konami erases Kojima’s name from MGSV box art

 

Well, your worst nightmares have come true, Metal Gear fans: KONAMI seems to be erasing the Kojima Productions logo and the classic “A Hideo Kojima Game” phrase from the box art of The Phantom Pain.  And as you would expect, people are very confused.

The logic of this move isn’t so crazy.  KONAMI wants gamers to stop being loyal to Kojima, and start being loyal to KONAMI.  With Kojima on his way out, but the Metal Gear series set to continue on without him, why not?  But even news sites are having a hard time comprehending what they’re doing:

But even if they have a bone to pick with Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, removing his name from the Metal Gear Solid V box itself, is absurd and unprofessional, the petty act of a spurned lover.

MGSV Box-Art

He goes on to explain the common perception about the situation:

This follows Konami pulling Kojima’s name and that of his studio Kojima Productions from marketing materials earlier this year. At the time, Konami assured everyone that it was simply a restructure: The Japanese publisher was moving to a “headquarters-controlled” system and Kojima and his team would remain intact. That was not to be, as revelations of Kojima’s departure emerged shortly after.

Konami and Kojima may have parted ways, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is the man and the team responsible for creating one of the best-selling, most critically acclaimed series in Konami’s history as a company. Nor does it change the fact that Kojima himself is popular with gamers, and erasing him risks even more bad press and alienation than Konami has already faced.

Of course it’s a controversial move, at a time when they should be focusing on hyping up their huge blockbuster title, not generating hatred from hundreds of thousands of their most loyal customers.  He goes on to express his confusion:

But outside of a little passive-aggressiveness, I’m not sure what Konami is hoping to achieve here. Smug satisfaction?

 

That’s the question we need to be asking.  I could remind you of another 20 reasons why this story doesn’t add up, but let me take another stab at a good explanation instead.

  • Hideo Kojima tells the company executives he wants to quit the Metal Gear series after The Phantom Pain and move on to other projects such as Silent Hills.  MGSV is designed to be highly expandable (episodic mission structure,) and the LA team is set up to handle multiplayer support.
  • KONAMI complains, but allows him to keep working and promoting it in the hopes that he’ll buckle under pressure along the way.
  • Kojima predicted this and already made MGSV about the whole situation from the start, even as early as Ground Zeroes.  Hence his “career-ending taboo” hints early on in production.
  • Kojima makes it clear that he won’t be continuing the series, no matter what, and eventually has a fight with the top management, who start pulling out threats that Kojima has already predicted.
  • KONAMI threatens to cancel MGSV, sack Kojima Productions, kick out Kojima, and cancel Silent Hills too.
  • Kojima knows that MGSV will tell his story, and watches as they start executing their threats, as he expected.  They are burning the bridge while scrambling to hire a new team for future titles and don’t even know how to save face.

I refuse to believe that Kojima was blindsided by these events, or that he wasn’t fully prepared for them in his mind and heart.  He’s too old, has gone through too much bullshit with Konami and the Metal Gear series, and has put too many hints into MGSV already.  Remember shining the blue light on the Metal Gear logos that he considers canon?  Completely needless, mostly ignored, but suddenly highly poignant once you realize that he was trying to send a message to players through the game in a way that Konami couldn’t erase.

Perhaps MGSV truly is about revenge, but for something that he knew was going to happen in the future.

SuperBunnyHop follows up on Konami removing his video

George Weidman of SuperBunnyHop is a cool guy who recently made a video about Konami which was taken down due to a copyright claim by Konami.  This is a followup about that video, and it further reinforces the possibility that Konami really is stupid, and they really don’t know what they’re doing at all.

I’ll admit, my theory that the MGSV and Kojima controversy was at least somewhat staged is looking like the less plausible theory these days.  I wonder if Kojima simply predicted something like this would happen, because I still don’t think the parallels to Ground Zeroes is a coincidence.

Anyway, here’s the video, assuming you have seen the original (which has been restored due to YouTube itself rejecting the copyright infringement claim) you should watch it:

Jim Sterling on Konami’s supposed madness

Obviously Jim Sterling is not an expert on the inner workings of Konami, but I found this to be an interesting take on the overall changes happening at Konami right now.  He doesn’t focus too much on Kojimagate, but he does lend credibility to the idea that the company might just be stupid enough to burn that bridge in the worst ways:

(Updated) Konami’s E3 Show features trailers, Mega64

Konami’s “Pre-E3 Show” is now available.  Interviews, trailers, and a great Mega64 skit are being shown.  We finally get to see more of Rising‘s gameplay, which looks very typical for this genre.  Sadly, level design seems to be ripped from the Nintendo 64 era.  Huge crates scattered around for no reason, allowing you to reach higher areas; generic wide city streets with nothing going on; a train chase; a scripted bridge collapse.  The rushed development schedule is evident, and so is the lack of ideas.

And in case you hadn’t figured it out, the theme of cutting everything and has been cut down as well.  The developers say that only enemies and certain background objects will be sliceable, meaning you shouldn’t be expecting to get too creative with your sword.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

I’ll be talking about the upcoming E3, Zone of the Enders, and a bunch more on my twitter.  I’ve started using it regularly, and I’ll be using it to announce new articles and such for your lazy ass.