With the cancelation of Silent Hills, the company’s removal from New York Stock Exchange lists, and the rumored departure of Hideo Kojima from Konami, many have certainly made hasty assumptions about what has happened within the company. With the recent Nikkei interview, and the translation that followed, there seems to be a great deal going on at Konami.
First off, what you need to know is that Konami is a family business. Kagemasa Kozuki, the co-founder and chairman, started the company in 1969, and the “Ko” part of Konami is pulled directly from his name.
Hideo Kojima and Konami
This means Hideo Kojima was already considered a bit of an interloper to the organization. He also handles PR very well and has managed to create a “great man myth” about himself. Additionally, the Kojima Productions part of Konami is clearly costly to run since it has a fairly large number of employees for an internal studio. It is expensive enough that there is a saying that Konami makes its money with the Winning Eleven soccer games and Kojima Productions spends it.
Recently, most of the games from Kojima Productions have not been as profitable as the older games were. Even with respectable sales, it’s obvious there has also been a high cost for development.
What is problematic here, and across the industry, is that the cost of creating and releasing games isn’t openly shared by publishers. If that were the case, many would see both sides of the story between Konami and Kojima, though it currently seems one-sided. There are dual issues here, the fact that Kojima’s internal studio is pricey to run, and that he exploited the Konami brand in order to make himself more powerful.
Concurrent with this is mobile gaming’s rise in Japan. Feeling as if they had been surpassed, Konami wanted in on the action . Ironically, they didn’t realize this soon enough, and as the bubble of mobile gaming is ready to burst, larger players like DeNA, are putting themselves into a better position already.
Kojima was happy enough with the hierarchy of Konami until last year. Regardless of the high cost to operate it, Kojima’s studio received special treatment. Whether right or wrong, some felt this was unfair. With the budget for the newest Metal Gear Solid clearly elevating, and the same expected for Silent Hills, the situation needed to be addressed so they changed the president.
The prior management seemed to get along with Kojima. However, people became fed up the middle of last year and Takuya Kozuki, the chairman’s son, replaced the old management.
How it all broke out
After that, current events were unavoidable. In reality, the adjustments may prove beneficial for Konami, since focusing any PR narrative through one individual can be a risky decision in regards to the way a company brands itself. When they leave, the identity of the company goes with them.
What’s more, if you are consistently getting no return after making expensive games, then it’s probably time to try something new regardless.
Whether or not Kojima is actually a remarkable game designer can also be debated. A sizeable number of people are involved in making games, and even with leadership, it’s a collective effort and the product reflects the talents of the whole team.
There is still talent at Konami.
Furthermore, reports of redundant staffing are obviously baseless. Clearly, Konami wishes to hold onto their talent, though if that talent continues with the company to work on mobile games is uncertain.