Video games have always had their heroes. The men and women that put their lives on the line when it counts for our digital entertainment. Mario saving the princess, Drake searching for that elusive treasure, Ezio keeping the illuminati at bay, and Master Chief being a god damn fucking badass. The list could go on and on. One franchise that has always stood out above the crowd has been the Metal Gear series. With a Storyline that could baffle the greatest of minds and back stories that put Shakespearian tales to shame and let’s not forget, a creator that is widely considered to be a video gaming hero in his own right. Few could say they have had more influence and direction in a game than the man himself, Hideo Kojima. The name Kojima has always gone hand in hand with Metal Gear Solid.
Recently however it seems this may be in doubt. Eagle eyed followers have seen over the past couple of weeks a growing concern in the background to one of the largest and most widely anticipated games of and generation. Have Hideo Kojima and developing powerhouse Konami pushed each other too far. Have we seen the beginnings of the inevitable fallout?
The beginning of this timeline of controversy and confusion seems to start from March 16th, when Kojima simply tweeted “Heading Off”. Whilst harmless on it’s own (he could have been heading off to get a cup of coffee for all we know), the internet only began to grasp the potential significance of this tweet a couple of days later, on March 19th. This is when fans documented evidence of Konami removing any mention of Kojima and his respective brands from the Metal Gear Solid marketing. He was even removed from the executive listings for Konami.
Following a bunch of rumours and hearsay about why Kojima might be leaving, if he is at all, Konami released this full statement:
Whilst reassuring fans that Hideo will still be working on the upcoming title, the thing to take away from that statement is that Konami are ‘resolved to develop new “METAL GEAR”’, and that they ‘will be conducting interviews for main staff to lead the development.’ Sounds like Konami is pushing for a Metal Gear future with or without Kojima. Why would they need staff to lead the development if they already have Kojima?
On March 31st, Konami removed the Kojima Productions logo from the Silent Hills/P.T. webpage, suggesting that the tenuous relationship between the two had been strained even further. Konami had this to say: “Konami has switched from a studio-based to a headquarters-based organization, so [Kojima Productions] wouldn’t be listed as a studio anymore. At this time, there are no additional updates to share.” Fast forward to April 3rd, Konami offers another U-Turn and returns the Kojima name to the MGS branding, leaving the internet and anyone trying to follow the story confused and disoriented.
Now, this is where things get interesting. April 9th, voice actress Donna Burke tweeted:
“Yes don’t throw away the Kojima teams work over the last 5 years because upper management fired a genius”
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Donna would be referring to Kojima. I doubt this fuss has been made over the firing of an intern or some such. Immediately, Konami was on the defensive, with a spokesperson informing VideoGamer.com that the claims were “categorically incorrect”. And incorrect they seem to be, or at least that’s what they want you to think… April 13th, Burke posted on Facebook with the following: “Konami is correct in that Kojima has not actually been fired. As I stated previously he and his team are still working hard on getting the game out. My sincere apologies to Konami, Hideo Kojima and the fans for giving the wrong impression.
“I was trying to add my voice to Otsuka-san pleading with the fans to not abandon MGSV because of the stuff happening at Konami and to throw my support behind Kojima and everyone who has worked over the last five years and is working to make this game the greatest ever. Kojima himself confirmed in a statement that he was still ‘100 per cent involved’ in the completion of The Phantom Pain, and was ‘determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date’. So my apologies for upsetting you all.”
So what can we possibly make of this debacle? For starters, there is a noticeable rift between Team Kojima and Team Konami. It’s also abundantly clear that Konami is preparing itself for a life without Hideo Kojima. Other than that, the only ones who could know are Konami and Kojima, and they’re not revealing anything.
How are the fans taking this rollercoaster of emotion? I know I’m finding it rough. A quick look at Twitter will tell you everything you need to hear.
@SerialK86 tweeted: I miss Hideo Kojima‘s tweets, Konami is making a big mistake firing him, hope he gets to form his own studio once he’s done working on MGS5.
Marcus Lawrence (@TheManWhoGames0) said: Is it true that Konami fired Hideo Kojima? Because if so, that was a pretty stupid move.
JoypadAndMe’s own Darren McCarthy (@TheDazeel) tweeted: I think it’ll be a while before we learn (if at all) the truth behind the Kojima/Konami ordeal. Just glad I got his autograph when I did.
We here at JoypadAndMe are sure that the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will mark a major point in the franchise’s future both digitally and behind the scenes, but how will this future grow and develop? Very few have an idea and even fewer that actually know what the future holds are prepared to say anything. However, I do believe that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of what appears to be a very public fracture between two industry icons.