By Bryan Smith on May 17, 2015 at 1:28pm
To say that Konami is having a rough time in the video game business at the moment is a massive understatement. With reports of Hideo Kojima being fired because of “power struggles,” removal of anything Kojima related from products, and even removal of whole products, it looks like a giant mess and a complete business nightmare. I think that it is best to chronicle all the events that have transpired that have shown Konami in the limelight, starting with the report of internal problems.
Anonymous Source Saying Kojima Would Leave Konami
While anyone could point to previous incidents, such as Koji Igarashi quitting Konami, as the start of the mess, it was GameSpot who reported on Hideo Kojima’s supposed departure from Konami that raised red flags. The fact that Kojima would leave after “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” is concerning enough, but the sources indicate there was a power struggle between Kojima and Konami. By power struggle, I mean that Kojima being stripped of full-time employee status and only as part-time (according to the source anyways). Yikes. For someone as revered and honored in the game industry, one wouldn’t treat someone like Kojima like an intern.
Now here is a statement from Konami themselves on the matter:
As we have already announced, we are shifting our production structure to a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business. Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements.
Note the ambiguity of the statement though. They only mention “Metal Gear products.” That doesn’t necessarily entail video games. A little while back in early May, Konami announced “The Metal Gear 1984 Collection.” We originally thought it would be something like a remake of the “Metal Gear” games from that decade. It turns out the “collection” was a clothing line. No new games down the line yet. Keep Konami’s vague statements in mind as we continue.
Kojima Seemingly Getting Silenced with Broadcast Cancellation
Now comes even more suspicious actively from Konami. The Kojima Station Broadcast is a show that Kojima holds where he just talks about stuff, most likely video game related and his opinions. Just after the GameSpot article went up, there was an announcement that the Broadcast would be cancelled “due to circumstances.” By circumstances, one can easily guess that the article and internal feud caused the cancellation.
Now why might that be, however? Kojima could have simply just gone about his business and talked about “MGSV” and some wacky things he likes. His Twitter is full of Godzilla love. This is where I put on the speculation pants, since this could go in any direction. Kojima could have simply not want to do the Broadcast because of him not feeling up to it from the drama or not wanting to add any fuel to the fire. On the other hand, it could be Konami trying to keep him quiet on what happened. As it may be, business is business, which shouldn’t be discussed so lucratively. However, it seems a bit excessive to go about and have such a bearing presence to keep everything a secret. The next bit of news certainly doesn’t help with that fact, as Kojima is slowly erased from Konami products.
Kojima's Name Being Removed from Konami Products
As evidenced by websites, artwork, and more, the Kojima name and Kojima Productions logo were removed from product titles. The “P.T.” and “Metal Gear” website lost the Kojima name. Twitter accounts’ content and updates were shifted to more official game Twitters that didn’t have Kojima as the frontrunner. If anything, this only shows that Konami wanting to push and distance themselves from Kojima as much as possible. There isn’t a fathomable reason as why a company would suddenly remove Kojima off of the games he made. It would be like Nintendo suddenly feeling vindictive towards Platinum Games and they decided to remove Platinum Games off of the box art for “Bayonetta 2.”
"P.T." Being Removed from PS Store
About a month later after the report of Kojima leaving Konami, rumblings for “Silent Hills” began to arise with the announcement that “P.T.,” the playable teaser, would be removed from the PlayStation Store. One would think that it would be a very disastrous idea to remove a demo for a game that many people are excited for… until one pauses to think the implications that follows. Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus both stated that they aren’t working on the game anymore around the time announcement for “P.T.’s” removal. With all three of the key players behind the project gone, “Silent Hills” looked like it was in deep trouble.
"Silent Hills" Cancelled
And in deep trouble “Silent Hills” was. In fact, the worst fate that could happen to it occurred. Konami officially stated that “Silent Hills” was cancelled.
They also released another vague statement in regards to future “Silent Hill” games:
Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic Silent Hills project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.
From the likes of “P.T.” alone, “Silent Hills” looked expensive to make, and that isn’t even taking into consideration how much money they were going to pay Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus. The room that you explore in is exceptionally detailed, so I’m willing to bet any additional work and money was flushed down the drain. From a business standpoint, it would be very foolish to try and make another “Silent Hill” game after a big project was cancelled.
"P.T." No Longer Downloadable
The PlayStation 4 Library system allows games to be downloaded not from the PS Store alone, but from the library itself. That means even if a game or demo was officially removed from the store, someone can download it right from the library. “P.T.” is the one exception to that rule though. Apparently, if “P.T.” isn’t downloaded to your PlayStation 4 before the removal from the store, it’s gone for good. Only those individuals who downloaded the game and didn’t delete it can play the game.
To date, I can’t name any games that have can’t be downloaded from the library (other than technical errors). This isn’t a mistake on people’s part either. “P.T.” being removed completely was deliberate. It seems that Konami is trying their best to remove any traces of this game at any cost. I wouldn’t be surprised if an update was released that would wipe “P.T.” completely just to finish it off for good.
PS4's With "P.T." Delisted from eBay
The whole scalping thing, where someone buys a rare item and sells it for (about anyways) five times the original cost, is a disgusting trend. I discussed this in another article: “The Amiibo Crisis.” However, this time the scalping revealed to us something very interesting about Konami. (Disclaimer: Scalping is a very bad and scummy thing and we at Player Theory do not condone and we reprimand those who scalp in the first place)
Since “P.T.” can’t be downloaded ever again (at the moment anyways), those who have the playable teaser decided to make a few quick bucks and headed to eBay. I bet the prices ranged from the original $400 to somewhere in the thousands. I say that because by the time I got around to checking out the resellings, they were removed from eBay. As it stands, the particular reason for the delistings of PS4’s with “P.T.” on them is because of copyright claims. There has been only one other case where this has happened, and that was with “Flappy Bird.” I’m sure you can find other games that were digital only and are being sold as consoles with them downloaded. It seems rather suspect that Konami would immediately go after the PS4’s after the removal of the “P.T.” (If only Nintendo could implement something similar to the scalpers with amiibos…)
Iga Speaks Out About Konami's Business Practices
With the ongoing drama, Koji Igarashi commented on the Kojima/Konami fallout. Iga was the producer and the main guy behind the “Castlevania” games before he quit Konami. He had some interesting things to say on the matter as he discusses about Kojima.
He’s heard what’s happening, but mostly it’s been through the news and not people directly at Konami, because that company has a way of bullying their employees not to give out too much information – to say the least. But as a top-level creator who also was put in difficult situations in which he had to make difficult choices, it’s always sad when really interesting franchises or really talented creators end up not being able to make the thing they’ve made in the past that has made the fans so happy, speaking brutally honest, that has generated revenue in the first place. So for him, it’s kind of a sad day to see that’s happening.
The “bullying” tactic Iga is talking about may have been the reason why he quit in the first place (among other personal reason). What’s important to take from all of this, however, is that a major producer and arguably the father of “Castlevania” has either seen or been put through some sort of bullying tactic. As far as we know and as far as Konami is willing to let others speculate, Kojima, one of the most revered men in the gaming industry, has been bullied in some form and can’t let others know what is going on. Iga also mentioned that Kojima should go to crowd funding as to avoid being pushed around my corporate publishers.
What Does This All Mean?
Now this article will be an ongoing update feature. Sadly I don’t think Konami will stay off the headlines for very long unless it makes a final bow from the video game business. There’s the thing though; I honestly don’t feel comfortable with saying that everything is “fine” at Konami. Things are looking grim, and that may be looking on the inside. With the mismanagement and bullying tactics towards the employees, I don’t think Konami knows what is going on. On the outside, people are already calling “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” Konami’s last game they’ll publish. I also believe that Konami are just generally disinterested in the gaming scene.
There aren’t any new games announced, planned, or maybe even in development past “MGSV.” Hell, Konami hasn’t even stated if they’ll be at E3 2015 yet, and they’ve had a major conference since 2013. E3 2014 was the first year they didn’t have a conference and they only showed off “MGSV” via console presentations. They have said they are committed to bringing more “Metal Gear” games in a new series and more “Silent Hill” games, but considering that “Silent Hills,” which probably had cost a lot of money just for the first steps of planning, I find that extremely doubtful.
Additionally, there really isn’t a whole lot of faith left in Konami as a whole anymore. I’m not even considering when that GameSpot article went up about Kojima leaving either. Konami has been on a downward spiral for a long time, and I fear that it’s nearing the drain of no return at this point. There hasn’t been any new “Contra,” “Zone of the Enders,” “Gradius,” any proper re-release for the popular “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” games, or “Suikoden” games in years. “Castlevania” hasn’t has a warm reception since the “Lords of Shadow” seemingly replaced the tradition style of the series. That just about leaves the “Metal Gear” series, which wrapped up Solid Snake’s story nicely and only leaves Raiden with “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance,” which isn’t certain a sequel will come to begin with (and isn’t technically in canon either).
With the rise of Kickstarter, fans who had to rely on publishers to make a follow-up to their favorite series don’t have to hold their breath anymore. You want another traditional “Banjo-Kazooie” game? You’re in luck- the guys from Rare who aren’t with Rare anymore are making a spiritual successor called “Yooka-Laylee!” Where’s “Mega Man?” Here’s Keiji Inafune and his new game “Mighty No. 9.” Most recently, Koji Igarashi revealed “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night,” which is the spiritual successor to “Castlevania,” and was successfully funded within four hours. I bet for whatever reason Iga is laughing his ass off right now as he sits on his throne.
Remember what Iga stated to IGN? He felt that Kojima should go to crowd funding for any game he wanted to make himself. After “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” I’m willing to bet he runs right over to his buddies and get a game started, if not go to Sony or Nintendo. Considering how quickly “Bloodstained” and “Yooka-Laylee” was funded, imagine how fast a Kojima game would be funded following the heels of Konami’s mismanagement. He very well could get an AAA budget from fans alone just out of respect people have for him and the negativity running from Konami.
I don’t particularly want to see Konami sink with all of these properties. There are still some brilliant people working there and no one wants to see people lose their jobs. However, as it stands, I have a feeling that they are going to sell off their gaming side of the company. They’ve shown more interest in their gambling side than with the video game industry (which, after some research, a lot of their games have been turned into pachinko games regardless). Perhaps Konami just doesn’t want to be in the video game industry anymore or they really don’t know what to do anymore. If they really don’t want to in the game business anymore, they probably should leave after “MGSV” and sell the properties as needed. With the events that have transpired, I can tell they haven’t been particularly professional in the industry in some time.
To wrap this up, I’d like to leave you all with this last bit of information. As I wrote this article up, Konami announced that their main platform of focus will be in mobile gaming. While other companies may be joining the mobile scene, such as Capcom and Sega, they haven’t stated it’d be their main platform of choice. This just looks like another step towards exciting the gaming scene.