Editorial: What Happened to Konami? Kojima Happened

Imagine working for a company for three decades, create top selling merchandise and became one of the most famous members of the team, for both fans and other employees. Then, while you are working on a large project that they requested you make, they cancel all your side projects that you were usually always allowed to create during main projects. Now that you are left with only the main project, they start removing all credibility from you and your team on this main project and wish to claim all the credit for themselves. On top of this removal of the earned accreditation, they put out a planned re-structure of the employee list to take effect shortly after your large project is expected to release and you aren't even on their plan. All of this is followed by the company refusing to allow you to partake in any award ceremony regarding the large project you and your team created after the request to make it in the first place came from the company, who will be taking the award and credit for the entire work. Welcome to the Hideo Kojima point-of-view of 2014.

Many remember the horrific conflict that happened between Konami and Kojima back in 2015 where Konami banned Kojima from making an appearance at E3, sneakily removed all the titles of A Hideo Kojima Game and logos representing the Kojima Productions team behind the development of the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain project, switched their focus of game development to a "mobile first" strategy, and cancelled the other project of Kojima's known as Silent Hills P.T., which Kojima did not part with quietly nor easily. There is also the known fact that Konami only had a small meeting room, on an upper floor, to show off their sole console game Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PES 2017) at the latest E3 of 2016. However, there is so much to discuss regarding that matter and you can learn all about the separation in this detailed article by Polygon.

But what happened to all the games they used to make? Their list used to contain top selling series like Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill, but now they only have PES 2017 to show off on the grand floor and have shown what they have coming to add to the Metal Gear series. We know they changed to focus on mobile games, but they also stated that they do not plan to give up on the console game development either. Maybe I was just hoping for more.

As far as what happened to Konami, it is simple really, Kojima happened. When Kojima left Konami, he created his own studio called Kojima Productions. When he left he took many top developers that were with Konami, such as Art Director Yoji Shinkawa, ex-Konami Europe Director Shinji Hirano, Producer Ken-Ichiro Imaizumi, Game Designer Masaki Saito, and many other talents from Konami. The biggest hit Konami took from this mitigation is their loss of Ako Sakamoto, one of the main people behind the infamous Fox Engine, to Kojima Productions. It seems that Kojima has taken their main talents for game development and are left with the gambling and sport game developers.

I tried to look up what Konami had to show off on their own site and saw a plethora of slot machines and other gambling games. Here is their own "Top 10 games and technologies of 2016" that they put up on their website. Outside of this list is the already announced continuation to the Metal Gear series that Konami calls Metal Gear Survive. This game is a complete turn of events and doesn't follow the same structure of the series original stealth-action game play with a political corruption based plot. When Kojima got the chance to comment on the game, his response was "The Metal Gear games are about political fiction and espionage. Where do zombies fit in with that?"
You can read more about it and check out some of the game play on this Gametyrant article.

Many fans are already looking forward to the first game being developed by Kojima Productions called Death Stranding that will be a Playstation 4 exclusive. Many have higher expectations for this game because of all the well known names and talents working on it, not to mention that Sony will be overseeing the project and not Konami. Meanwhile, Konami seems to have been put in a dark corner to build themselves back up again. 

Konami is actively working on getting back on their feet through promoting their team members and bring on new people. Even though there was a conflict that many consider Konami in the wrong for, we truly don't know the details of what happened. I always enjoyed games made by Konami and I would like to see them get back in the game development race, but unless they can build another impressive team, it looks like the slot they once filled has been taken over by the new top dogs - Kojima Productions.