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.
— David Gibson (@gibbogame) October 20, 2015
Konami say Kojima has not left the company, he is just on Permanent Unpaid Vacation
— CEO Kaz Hirai (@KazHiraiCEO) October 20, 2015
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.