Has Hideo Kojima Left Konami? What Does this Mean for the Future of Metal Gear?

Hideo Kojima has left the building… in a Hind-D, apparently. That was the Twitter image that kicked off the speculation, but by now it seems like a very safe bet: Kojima Productions has lost its leader, and what remains of the studio in his wake has been shuttered back into an increasingly gaming-indiferent Konami.

While this is an emotional gut punch for fans of the Metal Gear series, it really shouldn’t be a shock for those of you who have followed Konami’s recent output. It’s not hard: there’s last year’s Metal Gear game of course, and Konami’s Winning Eleven soccer franchise has plenty of fans in regions that scoff at the word “soccer.” And there was that new Castlevania game recently, which bombed so they’re not looking to follow up on it soon…uh, and the Silent Hill reboot had that P.T. teaser demo…hrm…I think they’ve done some mobile ports. Yeah, that’s about it. Most of Konami’s revenue stream comes in from health spas and such.

Even the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow games were created in partnership with an external developer, Mercury Steam, so Kojima Productions was really it as far as high-budget internal projects go. And let’s face it, sure the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is eagerly anticipated by the hardcore crowd, but the series hasn’t been a seminal all-eyes-on game-changer since MGS2. Hideo Kojima could only be the big man on top, with the unlimited budget, for so long. He increasingly has no place at the company.

Except that’s not a metaphorical statement anymore. It’s quite literal. Check out this company directory that no longer lists the studio that bears his name. Or scour the official Metal Gear page for any of the previously ubiquitous text “A Hideo Kojima Production.” Hell, even the Kojima Productions Twitter is being unhelmed, with all future posts to be handled by the generic Meter Gear account.

“Well, maybe they’re just doing some internal restructuring” is what you might be thinking. Unfortunately, this Konami news brief pretty much seals the deal:

    To Customers,

Thank you for your continued patronage of KONAMI products and services.

The latest title in the METAL GEAR series,“METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN” (below, “MGSV: TPP”), will be released as planned starting on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 in North America, Latin America, and Europe, followed by Japan and Asia on Wednesday, September 2nd. Hideo Kojima will remain involved throughout.

Hideo Kojima stated, “I want to reassure fans that I am 100% involved and will continue working on METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN; I’m determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date. Don’t miss it!”

In addition, KONAMI will continue to develop and distribute top-quality content in the METAL GEAR series following “MGSV: TPP.” We greatly anticipate and deeply appreciate your ongoing support for METAL GEAR.

As the next step in the series, KONAMI has already resolved to develop new “METAL GEAR”.

We will be conducting interviews for main staff to lead the development.

So there you have it (and I personally appreciate the very warm “To Customers” opening). Although the exact phrase “Mr. Kojima has parted ways with Konami” were never stated, you could read between those lines from 20,000 miles away from a helicopter (“…a Hind-D?”). Hideo Kojima is on his way out, perhaps still employed until the completion of The Phantom Pain or maybe already out the door and simply hanging onto the fringes in an advisory capacity as the final coat of paint is applied.

I think we all would have liked to have seen some fresh ideas from the next game in the Metal Gear series, but not because development was outsourced so some Western Studio or whatnot. Regardless, this could be great news for fans of Hideo Kojima. His carte blanche and enormous budget came at a high price: only make Metal Gear games for the rest of your career. Sure, he provided some backseat guidance to the recent Castlevania and Silent Hill games (the later of which is as-yet unreleased and may be staring into the fog of an uncertain future following this news), but it’s been obvious for a while now that Kojima longed to flex his considerable creative muscles.

I can’t wait to see what he does next. As long as it’s not a movie. Please don’t make a fucking movie, Kojima.

Source: Gamestop, Giant Bomb

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.