Konami: Fall of a Gaming Love Affair?

Konami

When word of Konami cancelling the new incarnation of Silent Hill hit on April 27th, I’ll admit I was completely floored.  Silent Hill is a wildly popular horror series, and after putting so much of their fan base into suspense and dare I say, fear, with moves earlier this year that weren’t really fully explained although the questions were asked, this seemed to be almost as if they are committing gaming seppuku.  Let’s take a look at how things have unfolded, for those who might have missed a bit of the action, shall we?

Konami2The first sign that something was going on with Konami involved not Silent Hill, but the new and still unreleased Metal Gear Solid 5.  On March 19th, gamers everywhere panicked, noting that Hideo Kojima’s name al all Kijima Productions branding had been removed from Konami products.  Kojima is one of the top video game designers in the industry, and has been involved with Metal Gear Solid since the beginning.  This move led to speculations of all sorts, from Kojima leaving Konami to Metal Gear Solid not being released, all without word from either Konami or Mister Kojima himself.  Konami released a statement saying that there was a company-wide rebranding, brushing aside any concerns as needless.  However, before the day was out, a report surfaced stating that Kojima and his people would be leaving Konami after Metal Gear Solid was completed, and were currently working as contractors.

The next day, Konami posted several jobs in relation to the Metal Gear Solid series.  I can’t tell you what they said, but I did go look at them.  I simply can’t read Japanese.  However, we do know that they were for beyond 5, giving more confidence to the notion that everything was alright with Metal Gear.  A joint statement was also released, saying that Kojima was basically committed to MGS5.

On March 26th, Konami released a statement that pretty much said exactly what their statement on the 19th said, giving most of us who were paying attention a bit of a Shakespearean view on the situation: Methinks the lady doth protest too much.  However, it was noted that no formal word on Kojima’s employment status was given.

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March 31st, Konami pulls all Kojima Productions from the Silent Hill sites, causing yet more palpitations in the gaming word, since this incarnation of the game is said to feature Norman Reedus and Guillermo del Toro, but all branding was returned on April 2nd with no comment as to what was going on.

April 25th revealed that the playable preview of the new Silent Hill game would be removed from the Playstation store and a day later, Guillermo stated in a press event that the collaboration between himself and Konami would no longer be happening.  Horror fanboys and fangirls everywhere panicked, waiting for the inevitable other shoe to drop.  It did on the 27th, with Konami announcing that the new Silent Hill game was officially cancelled.  Now, here was where it got strange…

It didn’t really show up in the media until the 27th, soon after the announcement about Silent Hill, but a few days prior, Konami voluntarily removed itself from the New York Stock Exchange.  What? I said the same thing.  It’s been speculated that because Konami didn’t really trade a lot in the US and seem to be refocusing efforts on their more profitable gambling sector, the move was made as a cost cutting decision.  For those with a love for both Metal Gear (which is still releasing on September 1st, for now) and Silent Hill (which is supposedly still happening without Kojima, but no one knows when), this move seems to spell the end of Konami’s gaming aspirations.  For some, it might seem like it’s time.  Silent Hill is a series that has had great successes, but also horrid failures in releases and Metal Gear just doesn’t seem like it would be the same without Kojima’s cinematic direction.  Maybe it’s time for Konami to move on.

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Kojima, on the other hand, is wildly talented and has a love for Hollywood that he’s never really stepped into, due to his gaming work.  Perhaps we’ll hear about him taking on some popular western set on Mars that will bring all of us gamers and fans out to the theaters to watch him work yet again.

Hey, you never know.

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