It’s no secret that Konami has had their fair share of difficulties as of late. A very public feud with Metal Gear Solid series creator Hideo Kojima hinted at major troubles within the company, but a recent article in Japanese newspaper Nikkei suggests things are much more troubling than they originally appeared.
According to the article, the success of inexpensive, high-profit mobile titles has led the company to shift focus away from bigger games. Titles like the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V, which reportedly cost $80 million to produce, don’t seem to fit in with the company’s current business model. This is apparently the reason behind Konami and Kojima’s falling out, which might also be the reason for the cancellation of the upcoming title Silent Hills. Konami has even licensed out the Momotaro Dentetsu franchise to Nintendo for an apparently small licensing fee. Developed by Hudson Soft, the Momotaro Dentetsu titles feature a board game style, and have a very large audience in Japan. The creator of that particular franchise, Akira Sakuma, left Konami in June. Sakuma took to Twitter shortly thereafter, where he cited many of the same problems Kojima has.
“Konami hasn’t gotten in touch with me at all. This is how they’ve tossed me aside for a while now. I’m announcing here that Momotaro Dentetsu is officially done. Ishikawa at Konami squelched everything.”
It’s currently unknown if Sakuma will be involved with Nintendo’s upcoming Momotaro Dentetsu title. The cost cutting apparently hasn’t stopped at the games themselves. Timed bathroom breaks have reportedly been enforced throughout the building, while “useless” employees are reassigned, often to projects beneath their stature. Reassignment has also been used to punish employees caught speaking out against the company, even if it’s something as minor as “Liking” a Facebook post that paints the company in an unflattering light. As a result, company morale has been understandably low.
Regardless of how accurate the Nikkei article proves to be, clearly there is a lot of unhappiness going on at Konami right now. It’s certainly a depressing state of affairs for one of the gaming industry’s biggest publishers. With talent such as Hideo Kojima and Koji Igarashi leaving the company over the last few years, it will be interesting to see just what becomes of franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania. Whether we’ll see a publisher like Nintendo acquire the licensing rights, like they did with Momotaru Dentetsu, or if those franchises will fall by the wayside, remains to be seen.