Fri. Jan 28th, 2022

Hideo Kojima, game designer and director of Kojima Productions, has seen a lot of excitement in the past year. To start with, the most recent installment in his highly praised “Metal Gear Solid” series, “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” launched this past September, gaining high marks across the board. Most importantly, Kojima left game development company Konami, where he had worked since 1986, in March 2015. Once the non-compete clause in Kojima’s original contract with Konami expired this past December, Kojima Productions was in the clear to begin work once again as an independent studio, now with a new logo and more freedom.

For those unfamiliar with Kojima’s work, the series most gamers recognize his name for are “Metal Gear Solid” and “Zone of the Enders.” “Metal Gear,” the first of the “Metal Gear Solid” collection, is a stealth-based game focused on the character Solid Snake, who remains unnamed until “Metal Gear 2.”

Solid Snake is a soldier sent to investigate a foreign military compound which contains weapons of mass destruction. In the end, Solid Snake sneaks and fights his way through the compound, takes down the weapon, defeats the leader of the compound’s organization, and escapes to safety as the building crumbles.

However, it was not always this way. During initial development, “Metal Gear” was planned to be a military-themed action game. Unfortunately, the MSX2 computer, which the game was being made for, could not handle the number of soldiers and other components that would be present on-screen at any given time. The game was handed off to a then-rookie Hideo Kojima, who saved the game with a new idea.

Instead of a straight action game, Kojima changed the idea to a game based around stealth. With the player spending more time staying out of the enemies’ way, instead of directly engaging an entire army, the MSX2 could easily handle the game. There was one catch: Being a movie buff, Kojima had written his own movie-like script for the game, and wouldn’t allow development with his stealth idea to continue without it. Konami allowed it, and “Metal Gear” was finished and released to rave reviews.

At the time of the release of “Metal Gear,” the stealth game genre was still massively underdeveloped. The genre exploded after “Metal Gear” and its sequels, “Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake” for the MSX2 in Japan and “Snake’s Revenge” for the NES in the west, were released. “Metal Gear” is cited as the stealth game genre’s biggest forerunner.

“Metal Gear” led to the “Metal Gear Solid” franchise, which has sold 41.2 million copies as of March 2015, and is much beloved by fans. Kojima is also responsible for such titles as “Policenauts” and the aforementioned “Zone of the Enders,” and while they aren’t as well-known as the “MGS” series, each have high ratings overall.

Kojima’s games have been released through Konami up until extremely recently, and while Kojima worked with Konami for about 30 years, fans were happy to hear that he left the company, to the point of making jokes online about how Kojima had “escaped.” This is due to a number of issues Kojima had with Konami leading up to and after he left.

Kojima himself is under a gag order and has not been able to say much about his working conditions with Konami. He has said that the company was more interested in making money than good games, and he was unable to do, make, or say what he wanted very often. However, around March 2015, information was leaked detailing what exactly Konami had done to Kojima Productions.

First, access to resources and opportunities was all but taken from the developers. This includes Internet access, as well as many other tools needed in order to properly create games. Supposed “restructuring” also terminated the employee status of everyone working in Kojima Productions, including Kojima himself. Instead, they were then relisted as contractors.

Despite these hurdles, Kojima still finished “MGSV,” but even then, Konami had ads up for a new director for the “Metal Gear Solid” series. Konami is also alleged to have forced Kojima to release “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes,” a demo for “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” for around $30. The final box art for “MGSV” even had Kojima’s name stripped from it.

Konami also terminated “Silent Hills,” which was an announced new entry in the “Silent Hill” franchise. Kojima was listed as a developer, along with director Guillermo del Toro, and both were excited about the game. A demo, called “PT,” was released for free and gained high praise from gamers, a lot of attention from the “Let’s Play” community, and sparked a new, excited interest in the series. Unfortunately, when the full game was terminated, Konami went as far as to take “PT” out of circulation, making the demo unplayable for anyone who had not already downloaded it.

One of the pettiest actions Konami took was at the 2015 Game Awards. “MGSV” won two different awards, but while Kojima was invited to attend, he was unable to. Host Geoff Keighley revealed on-camera that Konami had prohibited Kojima’s attendance through his contract, which was still in effect at the time despite Kojima’s resignation.

Two months after this event, on Dec. 15, 2015, Kojima unveiled the new Kojima Productions. He released a joint statement with Sony president and global CEO Andrew House stating that Kojima Productions would be an independent studio, with the first title, expected to be a new franchise, to be made as a collaboration with PlayStation.

No information about the game or franchise is currently known, but Kojima’s Twitter, after the announcement, was full of excited posts and pictures following Kojima’s tours through Sony as he tried out the new equipment he had to work with.

Despite the hardships presented by Konami, Kojima is still making video games. His cinematic approach and attention to detail has netted him loyal fans who will undoubtedly follow him in his new, independent pursuits. Whatever he has planned for the future, it will be sure to shake up the gaming world and bring forth new life in the digital era.

Megan Sabers is a fourth-year student majoring in business marketing. They can be reached at MS789222@wcupa.edu

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3 thoughts on ““Metal Gear” developer goes independent”
  1. As someone who loved the prologue “Ground Zeros” MGS: V is probably the biggest disappointment in gaming of all time for me. The gameplay mechanics rocked, but the story, presentation and open world all fell short. Don’t know if this more the fault of Konami or Kojima, but Kojima’s departure from Konami seems to be pretty telling that whatever ended up happening, they weren’t seeing eye to eye. I’ve heard quite a few people speculate that there were budget problems.

    The cancellation of “Silent Hills” was equally crushing since the franchise has been garbage ever since it was handed over to Western developers and “Silent Hill 2” is probably the highest artistic achievement in the videogame medium.

    Looking forward to whatever Kojima’s doing with Sony.

    1. Rob you’re an idiot and can’t appreciate a game as good as MGSV. MGSV has some of the tightest controls, best stealth mechanics and smoothest engine ever in a video game. The story is fine, you probably just don’t like it because of the Medic twist, deal with it. There are plenty of games worse than MGSV and I’m glad some people aren’t pessimists towards the game and can appreciate it for what it does right.

      1. The stealth mechanics and controls are tight… Is that not what I said in my original comment? I praised those aspects of the game.

        And it’s much agreed upon in the MGS community that the story was pretty lackluster, especially when compared to previous MGS titles. Don’t act so conceited..

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