After years of working on the Metal Gear franchise, a huge amount of circumstantial evidence suggests that Hideo Kojima will be leaving Konami this year and that Kojima Productions will be absorbed into Konami Digital Entertainment.
Here's what we know so far.
It all started innocently enough, as fans noticed that all mentions of Hideo Kojima's name had disappeared from Metal Gear Solid V promotional materials, which had previously touted its status as "A Hideo Kojima game." This makes sense as far as it goes, since Konami is known to be changing its organisational structure soon, but it soon emerged that Kojima Productions is likely being folded into 'Konami Digital Entertainment.' Their Twitter account was then changed to a more generic Metal Gear account, followed by the revelations that Kojima has dropped off the list of Konami corporate officers for the next financial year.
Circumstantial to be sure, especially as Konami then spoke out to reassure Metal Gear Solid fans. ""Konami Digital Entertainment, including Mr. Kojima, will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products," read the statement. Please look forward to future announcements."
Phew. No worries.Then things got interesting.
Gamespot dropped the bomb, claiming to have heard that Kojima has been locked in a "power struggle" with Konami for some time, leading to his studio being given limited access to the press, social media and even company phones. Their source alleges that Kojima will more than likely leave Konami after Metal Gear Solid V releases, along with a cadre of veteran Kojima Productions staffers, leaving the studio rudderless. Apparently he's currently working on the franchise as a freelance contractor rather than an employee, which will come to an end in December.
"At a team meeting, Mr Kojima explained that team have to be one and make a good game for fans," the source continued.
There's more. VideoGamer reports that Konami are now looking for new developers to "embark on production of a new 'Metal Gear' series." The release, made on their official site, certainly adds fuel to the fire.
This tallies with a recent video, which suggests that Kojima intends to finish his involvement with the franchise after The Phantom Pain. "With Metal Gear Solid 5, I'm finally closing the loop on that saga," Kojima said. "Even if the Metal Gear saga continues, to me this is the last Metal Gear."
Now, again, we need to reiterate that this evidence is all completely circumstantial. It's possible that this is all a perfectly innocent piece of restructuring or rebranding that has been blown out of proportion, perhaps seeing Kojima taking a purely developmental role rather than engaging in Konami corporate politics. It could also be a publicity stunt, but this really isn't Kojima's style -- and more to the point Metal Gear Solid V is already one of the most anticpated games of the year.
Our take? We wouldn't be surprised if Kojima decided to leave, and we can't help wondering if he'd relish an opportunity to do something new. He's intensely creative, deeply into adventure games, visual novels and film, but has been shackled to a single franchise for decades. As such, personally speaking, I'd wonder if he'd consider going 'indie' or even changing to a different medium altogether for a while (perhaps film-making or animation).
If true, though, what this means for Silent Hills remains to be seen. Let us know what you make of all this in the comments!
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