Video Games

The Kojima-Konami Breakup Story

2015 was an intense year for gaming. Both Sony and Microsoft vied for 8th generation supremacy, striking blows through the annual without pulling any punches. With the sales numbers not telling lies, both companies were able to throw shade and dirty dozens even though the game titles’ playing field was hardly even affected by either or. Not too many exclusives, but mostly terrible-but-good promises both intended to keep for 2016 with the likes of Rise of the Tomb Raider and Bloodborne exclusives. Battlefront relying on nostalgia while Evolve was hardly a proper show to shooters. Destiny was resuscitated and praised for its’ Legendary Taken King update. Nintendo still took some shots, with Satoru Iwata making an unexpected exit, to the afterlife(RIP, Kirby) earlier this year and DNea sounding more and more suspious each time it appeared in the news. Wii U kept having highlights. From its’ new shooter to still churning DLC butter through Namco Bandai-developed Super Smash Bros, which seemed to have DLC announcements even up to this month. All was strange in the world. Especially, if you worked at Konami. Or worked on one of the bigger contenders for Game Of The Year – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, for that matter. The Kojima-Konami Breakup Story.

Creator of the Metal Gear series, Hideo Kojima, felt that sort of pain since the announcement of his latest entry in the series that has been a breakout smash since the 80s. Protagonist Patrick Swa…err… Solid Snake defended the world from nuclear threats posed as walking tanks known as Metal Gear, with several antagonists posing conundrums to the free and/or not-so-free world. All this in the covert form of espionage against some of the most bizarre and incredible bad guys both his world and gaming has ever seen. As for Kojima, he had a bit of these sorts of issues of his own. Except, do me a favor and replace Liquid Snake with probably Kojima’s employer – Konami. It was definitely a wild ride that even went so bold as to stop Hideo from even accepting awards for the blockbuster. V did well on many fronts, including the gamer hated Spike TV one-off, Video Game Awards. Thanks to a damn strong legal team, actor and Snake’s voice for Phantom Pain, Keifer Sutherland, had to accept the award for the creator last month.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=p3AeHi7Y2g8

Sorry, I left a bit out. Before the game was even put to market this year, Kojima Productions – a team of Konami individuals who focus on Metal Gear Solid and other brainchilds, was taken off of the box. The MSRP was visible. Konami’s logo was, too. But anything else that even dealt with Kojima was left out of the game… minus the many end credit rolls and logo, telling us that this was a Hideo Kojima game. It didn’t stop there between the rift of Konami and its’ hitmaker genius.

In the third quarter of 2015, right near the sales of Phantom Pain, gaining unit sales by the millions, Konami took the relationship to the next level. The man responsible for the Fox Engine, the graphic system that powered both Phantom Pain and PES 2015 – the amazing football game,Julien Merceron , leaves. Konami also announced a more tighter focus to mobile as the next direction. Kojima’s production team was also let go, and their new Los Angeles home was dismantled for a Konami west base. Del Toro and Kojima’s highly anticipated Silent Hills teamup was also dissolved. Hideo didn’t seem to like this at all, so he struck back. An announcement of his departure of Konami was made through a youtube stating his thanks. Minutes after I witnessed this, a new account, with my bank, was made to fund whatever Kickstarter this man wanted to get off the ground. Konami denied Hideo’s leave as a vacation, yet had non-compete and legalities set to this month. Yes, this has been a pretty insane time for Snake’s dad. Still, there’s good news.

Kojima Productions has been resurrected from the ashes with tons of positions to fill and a welcoming and empowering message to the creators of this entertainment. Kojima and Sony will be working on the first game together, and of course, this will yet-another-console-exclusive. The Belmonts producer is already gone from Konami, and even ex-Square Enix’s Yoichi Wada has denounced the treatment of Kojima-san. Search online to anything remotely dealing with a public forum and Metal Gear, and you can just hear more boos than applauses for Konami’s bad form. As for Konami and I, though?

Well … uh… it’s hard to let go of a 30 year relationship. These guys brought the goods since TMNT: The Arcade Game for myself and several others who recalled Konami’s glory days. Even when they were more or less distributors of arcade gems. X-Men: The Arcade Game, anyone? got 6 friends and time to kill? Still, to do all this even after the golden goose game of year, came and went, is horrible enough. With a majority of the eastern shares of games going to the PS4 camp, it’s hard to see how Konami will survive without some star players to back them up before even they, too, will feel the wrath of a possible merger. But to bar a man from accepting accolades for his hard work? That was stingy of Konami to even fathom that action. Metal Gear will always be Hideo Kojima’s. It’s the legacy he has built. Alongside that and Policenauts, Lunar Knights, Snatcher, and of course, Zone of the Enders, Kojimas are more relics to keep than trash to throw out. Konami’s made more mistakes than one here. Quality is quality, in gaming, yet I’m weary of mobile.

Ressurrecting titles like Suikoden, in mobile form, again isn’t going to gain back the trust of the masses and if Team Ninja’s shakeup on Temco Koei’s Dead Or Alive sans Itagaki is any indication of a chess game gone wrong, Konami may be hard-pressed to find their next star through the mess that is far from shit PR. Mobile first works on web, not much on gaming. Again, I could be pissing in the wind after seeing EA put Star Wars into the Heroes mix. Konami has several properties at their disposal. Still, DOA is doing just fine without the taste of gaming’s Bono. Perhaps Konami can still make right with Kojima before they start production on the next Metal Gear Solid... but who’d want to ruin another Platinum Games company? I sure as hell don’t.

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