METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES (Part 1)

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Shocking, underwhelming, and confusing at the same time, where does one begin to discuss Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes?  I’m not sure, so I’ve decided to divide my commentary into a few different aspects.

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Gabe Newell contradicts Kojima

In a new interview with Gamasutra, Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson talk about their business strategy — or rather, their complete lack of business strategy, at Valve:

Gabe Newell: … our focus is really much on building something that’s cool, and then we’ll worry about monetization.  So we’re not going to worry about that until later.  Premature monetization is the root of all evil.

The entire 4-page interview is pretty much about how Valve refuses to give its employees titles, responsibilities, and how they generally don’t care about market research, but rather focus on simply recruiting people they want to work with and make stuff they think is cool.  This stands in contrast to what Hideo Kojima said previously about his experience with pitching ideas and creating projects, which was this:

Hideo Kojima:  Right now, it’s very similar to movies: You need a lot of money. So rather than doing what you want, doing what you like, you must have a clear idea of marketing and sales. That’s what’s happening to us with FOX Engine; you do not need be an expert in programming to develop a game, but if you have a question, you still need an expert on-hand to provide an answer.

Isn’t it sad that while Kojima — who already has his own production company — talks about how he needs marketing research and sales pitches, instead of being able to do what he wants, Valve is boasting about their “do-what-you-want” strategy and making millions of dollars of profit as a result?  This is exactly the kind of thing I examined in my Metal Gear Online vs Team Fortress 2 series, which I suggest you take a look at after you’re finished with the Newell interview [here].

I’ll conclude with another choice quote from Valve’s leader:

GN: Well, I think, at the end of the day, the challenge is to find exciting, worthwhile projects for smart people to do.  And then whether you’re doing it as an individual, whether you’re doing it as a small indie developer, or you’re doing it as a larger group, if you can answer that question you’re probably going to be successful.

Kojima on needing lots of money, knowing how to market

Hideo KojimaIn a new interview with PlayStation Blog, Hideo Kojima compares being a game designer to producing a movie, saying:

Kojima: Right now, it’s very similar to movies: You need a lot of money. So rather than doing what you want, doing what you like, you must have a clear idea of marketing and sales. That’s what’s happening to us with FOX Engine; you do not need be an expert in programming to develop a game, but if you have a question, you still need an expert on-hand to provide an answer.

As for expression, that has reached a high level. Video games are trying to reach the peak of entertainment, so game makers should be clear that things like emotion and sound are among the many things that have to be involved. [source] [emphasis mine]

It doesn’t seem as if Kojima is complaining here, but he certainly has no illusions about being able to simply do “what he likes” and “what he wants”.  It’s all about marketing and sales.  It’s interesting that he would bring up the new FOX Engine as an example of this; does this mean he couldn’t do what he wanted with it, or is it just an example of requiring marketing savvy to get what you want?