Konami was once a company that had the loyalty of their fans, their beloved ‘Konami Code’ has found its way into almost everything; video games, websites and even in movies. The video game developer and publisher was the home of beloved game franchises like Silent Hill and Metal Gear. While Konami still owns the rights to these games, they have lost the love that fans had devoted to them.
Where did they go wrong? If we look back over the last year, we can definitely see where things began turning sour between Konami and the fanbase. It all leads back to Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima who had been working with the company since the 1980’s.
It would be easy to say that Konami simply went wrong by not treating Kojima like a video game developing god, but they even took to harassing some fans who posted information they didn’t like.
Konami chose to publicly humiliate Kojima, offer no feedback to the community and go on to make moves with their recently released that were the exact opposite of what fans want to see.
In March of 2015, vigilant fans began to recognize that Hideo Kojima’s name had been removed from Konami’s list of executives. In addition to that, his name was being erased from a number of games that he created, as well as the Twitter accounts that had been linked to the Metal Gear series.
The Phantom Pain’s official site page prior to Kojima’s name being removed.
Once fans began recognizing the Kojima’s name had been removed from his games, they began pestering Konami for information. A month later, the company remained steadfast in their silence,opting to quietly put his name back onto the games. This move was likely due to a contract breech on the part of Konami that protected Kojima’s name.
The Phantom Pain’s official site page after Kojima’s name was removed.
At this point, fans presumed the worst, that Konami and Kojima had parted ways. The fate of the still unreleased Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was unknown, as was the currently in development Silent Hills game that was being created from a union between acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro and Kojima.
In their next move, Konami cancelled the highly anticipated Silent Hills game.
After that, Konami began to turn their focus towards their own gaming community. YouTuber Super Bunny Hop had released a video investigating Konami, saying that the company was more interested in their non-gaming businesses like gambling — his video was quickly issued a takedown notice.
Shortly after this, rumors began making their rounds saying that Konami had fired Kojima because he had gone over budget for The Phantom Pain and was constantly pushing the game further and further from release.
That’s when Konami moved on to Phase 2: The Denial.
At this point, Konami had already stated that they would be moving forward with the Metal Gear series – with or without Kojima. The game company had yet to officially comment on whether or not Kojima was still a part of the company, but their silence was quickly broken when an author from the New Yorker tweeted a picture of what he declared ‘Kojima’s farewell party.’
Konami quickly attempted to cover up the situation saying, “We’re not sure what kind of thing this was.” The developers went on to say that the picture had been taken at a party to see Kojima and the other The Phantom Pain developers off on their vacation.
“Currently, Kojima and the development team are finished developing Metal Gear Solid V and are taking a long time off from work. Because the development time for console games is so long and fatigue builds up, it’s common for employees to take extended periods of time off when development is finished.”
Making matters worse, Konami went on to lose the good will of their fans by closing down their LA Studio weeks before the holidays, leaving over 40 developers out of a job. The LA Studio had been known as Kojima productions, a studio that had contributed Metal Gear Solid titles, including Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and Metal Gear Online.
Konami kept their decline in adoration at a steady pace by publicly humiliating Hideo Kojima during The Game Awards. His creation, The Phantom Pain, was set to win the best action/adventure game, but Kojima was not able to accept the award. Instead, voice actor Kiefer Sutherland (who voiced Snake in The Phantom Pain) accepted the award.
Game Award host and producer Geoff Keighley did not keep it a secret as to why Kojima was a now show.
Konami had been legally prohibited by Kojima from attending the event, an occurance that apparently happened twice to Kojima thanks to Konami. Two days prior to The Game Awards, Konami had barred Kojima from attending an award ceremony in his home country Japan.
“As you noticed Hideo Kojima is not here tonight,” Keighley said. “Mr. Kojima had every intention of being here, but unfortunately he was informed by a lawyer representing Konami that he would not be allowed to travel to tonight’s award ceremony to accept any awards. He’s still under employment and contract and it’s disappointing. It’s inconceivable to me that an artist like Hideo Kojima would not be allowed to come here and celebrate with his peers and his fellow teammates.”
Kiefer Sutherland (voice of Snake in The Phantom Pain) accepting the award on behalf of Kojima.
Konami’s blatant disrespect to the man that helped them establish themselves with the Metal Gear series had not gone unnoticed by fellow developers. The former Square Enix CEO, Yoichi Wada, stepped forward to call Konami’s deliberate motions against Kojima “cruel” and that all of this bad for business.
“When you are not aware that the feelings of your own department aren’t aligned with the world at large, the results can be deplorable.”
At this point, there was no denying that Konami and Kojima had split up. Kojima went on topartner with Sony and create a new studio, with the support and love of his fans. Konami went on to add expiration dates to items purchased through microtransactions in the Japanese version of The Phantom Pain on PC.
Konami will be moving forward with the series that Kojima created for them and Kojima is working with a fresh new start.