Konami, as we knew it, is done.
The sooner that fact is understood, the sooner the healing process can begin.
I know it’s going to be tough, but together we can bear through this. Konami was amazing. They were at the center of some of gaming’s iconic franchises over the course of 20 years. Not only did they bring Metal Gear and Silent Hill into the conversation of modern gaming’s best but they also put out the classics Frogger, Castlevania and Contra.
So why would a company as rich a history as Konami seem to be having a fire sale?
Living through the successes of their past does not guarantee success in the future. Especially in the Video Games industry that has seen Atari go out of business just to be resurrected for the name alone, Sega unceremoniously bullied out of the console space and THQ implode around themselves, despite being on the verge of becoming a true AAA publisher.
Ask yourself this, are you really surprised that this happened?
In recent years, Konami’s only games that performed well enough to turn a noticeable profit have been entries into their Winning 11/Pro Evolution Soccer series and Metal Gear. But none of the entries were chart burners. Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, the last full Metal Gear game, brought in an external developer (albeit a stellar one in Platinum) and only managed to draw 1.7 million copies in global sales across both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. In contrast, the last true Metal Gear Solid title, MGS4, sold nearly 6 million copies worldwide.
The brutal truth of Konami’s involvement in games development is that the sales numbers are no longer worth the massive investment it takes to properly develop games for home consoles. Letting classic franchises like Castlevania, Contra and even Hudson’s Bomberman are byproducts of Konami’s prolonged exit from the home console space.
It seems that the only thread holding everything together was Metal Gear and Hideo Kojima. Kojima has long been a proponent of innovation, artful direction and games as a medium to rival film and television entertainment. Behind Kojima Metal Gear became the mammoth property that Konami held dear and was responsible for spearheading the ambitious Silent Hills project as well as a major factor in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
But let’s be honest. Metal Gear has become a whale in the boardroom. Producing a multi-million dollar entertainment game only increased in size as Kojima ballooned the project out to include luxury features like casting Keifer Sutherland, building their own game engine and creating the multi-SKU nightmare that was Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain. Combined with insane publicity stunts with the infamous Joakim Mogren stunt, Kojima, while brilliant, had become a liability.
The only reason why we are really noticing that Konami is unceremoniously leaving traditional gaming development is because of the ill-timed confluence of events. Kojima and Konami falling out. Metal Gear Solid V’s rocky development period. Silent Hills cancelled. Delisting themselves from the New York Stock Exchange. Konami no longer cares about developing games to create worlds and tell stories. They are a company, who happens to have made a few successful games. They also have health clubs. They also make pachinko machines. They also make slot machines.
So when Konami CEO Hideki Hayakawa said, “Gaming has spread to a number of platforms, but at the end of the day, the platform that is always closest to us, is mobile. Mobile is where the future of gaming lies,” I am disappointed but I am not surprised.
Or when the state of Nevada approves a bill that allows for gambling games of skill to be including in casinos, a move spearheaded by Konami’s gambling division president Thomas Jingoli, I am not surprised. Odds are the only chance we have at seeing a new game of Frogger is on a skill based slot machine in Vegas.
And that is depressing.
But you know what, it’s okay. I am glad that Kojima is leaving Konami. He is better than what Konami is now. It is a shame that Metal Gear will not leave Konami with Kojima. After all, it was poor production and direction that kept pulling Kojima back into the Metal Gear projects.
However Metal Gear Solid V performs this Fall, I’m sure it will make a ton of money for Konami. Let them relish in it. Let them lie through their teeth about it. Forget about the Konami you loved. Because that Konami will be long gone after this year.