Rumors are swirling around Konami and veteran game designer Hideo Kojima that the two parties will be parting ways following the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Gamespot broke the story and cited an internal source that claimed Konami had restructured in a way that made senior staff at Kojima Productions, including Kojima, independent contractors. Their contracts are reportedly set to expire in December, after MGSV’s launch in September.
When I first heard the story I had to wonder if it was another form of misdirection, as Kojima has gained a reputation for enjoying the chaos that ensues through public relations stunts. Prior to MGSV’s official announcement, Kojima Productions created a fake designer named Joakim Mogren that teased the existence of the game that would eventually reveal itself to be MGSV. The ruse was designed to create groundswell and speculation with just enough breadcrumbs to point in the direction of Kojima and his team.
Alas, it seems that this time the writing is in fact on the wall for Kojima and his studio as Kojima Productions’ branding has been removed from the official Twitter account, the official website and its Los Angeles office has been renamed to Konami Los Angeles Studio.
The Metal Gear creator had expressed his desire to leave the Metal Gear franchise in the hands of development staff at Konami in the past but was constantly reeled back in. Of all video games, Metal Gear Solid has earned a reputation for being truly cinematic and very evident of a single person’s vision. Kojima’s vision for the series has evolved greatly in the near 30 years since the original Metal Gear and it is difficult to disassociate the franchise from his direction.
What this means for the Metal Gear franchise remains to be seen. I doubt that Konami would let such a standout franchise walk out the door with Kojima so there is almost zero chance that they give up the creative rights to the series.
Similarly, Kojima was set to be heavily involved in the next Silent Hill game, Silent Hills. A teaser demo was released showing off the tech under Kojima’s direction named P2 and was incredibly well received. Kojima was slated to direct and produce along side famed film director Guillermo del Toro and actor Norman Reedus.
Much of Konami’s modern success is owed to the franchises that Kojima has been involved in. Whether Konami can sustain his departure remains to be seen, but his absence will certainly be felt. I consider him in the upper echelon of Japanese developers, possibly the best short of Shigeru Miyamoto.
Who knows, maybe he’ll find a second career in taking photos of food. He sure does love to do that.