Konami: Burning all the bridges

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Fascination with Japan grows when you&rsquo;re obsessed with the gaming industry as a whole, as do the oddities of Japanese game developers. These companies are notorious for low turnover and remaining unquestioning of superiors in the corporate chain. This steadfast adherence to the structure of their companies is, however, in some cases, what makes them special. Nintendo would not be Nintendo if they did not stick by their original principles.</p>

In companies like these, drama is sure to attract attention, and the most dramatic story of the last month was the seeming self-destruction of the Japanese company Konami.

Konami is a, now formerly, beloved company that is behind fan favourites such as the Silent Hill, Castlevania, and Metal Gear Solid series and recently some concerning things have been happening to them.

Hideo Kojima, the defining voice behind the Metal Gear Solid series, began to have his name removed from the production credits for the game, as well as from his own development team, Kojima Productions.

The gaming world was rejoicing at the horror masterpiece of P.T., and the game that it was teasing, Silent Hills. It seemed a return to form, helmed by Kojima and renowned film director Guillermo Del Toro, along with Norman “Daryl Dixon” Reedus as the main character.

That game? Cancelled. Its playable teaser P.T.? Not only removed from the store, but not even available to re-download for people who already got it.

What of their other beloved gaming series, Castlevania? That series’ main directorial presence, Koji Igarashi –one of the people behind the shockingly successful Bloodstained Kickstarter, funding a spiritual successor – had already left the company as of 2014.

So a Japanese developer left a Japanese publisher, and is instead being funded by an American crowdfunding site. Meanwhile, Konami is burning all their bridges in order to focus on … mobile development.

It’s an infuriating part of the gaming industry. Even as console sales increase in North America and the number of diverse developers grows, stockholders blindly yell at CEOs to “go mobile.” Even staunch opponents to mobile, Nintendo, have bowed to those wishes.

And it’s not hard to see why in Konami’s case. The console market is the worst it’s been in years in Japan, with many players moving to mobile in that country.

But still, it seems foolish to place all one’s eggs in another basket at the first sign of trouble. Regardless of Japan’s console woes and Konami’s shifting priorities, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is sure to be a big seller, and Silent Hills likely would have as well. The international market is a different beast than Japan.

And what if the mobile market in Japan suffers a decline as well? Now they’re in the same situation, but without all those beloved franchise creators under their wing.

Imagine if a movie producer decided to suddenly stop making movies, and switched entirely to five minute YouTube videos? Ridiculous right? And a waste of that company’s potential and fanbase. But that’s the exact feeling that I, and many other avid gamers, have when a company seemingly abandons their fanbase to pursue other avenues of income.

It’s a sad state of affairs. Those of you who are fans of Metal Gear Solid get to enjoy one last game by Hideo Kojima. And honestly, given the state of the fairly retched entries in the Silent Hill series, this may well be the last game in Metal Gear history worth playing.

But hope remains between crowdfunding and the thriving North American market. As Japan dwindles, it seems Kickstarter is picking up the slack. Give Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s Kickstarter a look, and keep an eye on what these abandoned Japanese developers bring forward.

Because Konami is more concerned with a new market than its loyal fans.
 

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