Trouble seems to be brewing inside Konami, and it has to do with the beloved Metal Gear Solid franchise. Specifically, fans are wondering if series creator Hideo Kojima will still work for Konami once Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain comes out in September. Some wonder if Kojima is working on the game even now.
What started the speculation that Kojima’s position at Konami might be in jeopardy was a whitewashing of all things Kojima from Metal Gear promotional materials. Konami removed numerous mentions of Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions from the Metal Gear Solid website and the box art of several games, including MGS V. The words “Kojima Productions Los Angeles” on those materials have been replaced with “Konami Los Angeles Studio.”
Other strange things began happening as well. The Kojima Productions website doesn’t seem to exist anymore. When you go there now, you’re redirected to Konami’s Metal Gear site. The Metal Gear series’ official Twitter account used to be named @Kojima_Pro_Live, but it has been moved to @Metalgear_en. Lastly, a behind-the-scenes MGS V video podcast called “Kojima Station” has been paused, according to the game’s Japanese Twitter account, and may cease altogether.
To top it off, in a video interview with IGN, Kojima said that with MGS V, he’s “finally closing the loop on that saga. In that sense, this will be the final Metal Gear Solid. Even if the Metal Gear franchise continues, to me, this is the last Metal Gear.”
Kojima’s future with Konami
It gets worse. GameSpot spoke to an anonymous source within Konami who said, “After we finish MGSV, Mr. Kojima and upper management will leave Konami. They said their contract ends in December.” Since it’s an anonymous source, this should be taken with a grain of salt, but Kojima parting ways with Konami sure seems to be where all of the facts are pointing.
Konami’s official statement
With so much speculation going on in the gaming world, Konami couldn’t stay quiet. On March 19, the first day fans noticed Kojima’s name disappearing from Metal Gear Solid materials, Konami issued a statement to Videogamer.com, saying, “Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements.”
Several days later Konami and Kojima released a joint statement, saying:
Hideo Kojima stated, “I want to reassure fans that I am 100% involved and will continue working on METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN; I’m determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date. Don’t miss it!”
In addition, KONAMI will continue to develop and distribute top-quality content in the METAL GEAR series following “MGSV: TPP.” We greatly anticipate and deeply appreciate your ongoing support for METAL GEAR.
To take them at their word, it seems that Kojima will finish work on MGS V. The big question that remains is whether he’ll still be with Konami after that.
Could it all be an elaborate prank?
Despite the evidence, we do need to remember that we’re talking about Hideo Kojima here, a man who’s no stranger to practical jokes. Just this last Christmas he pranked his most diehard fans by having them watch a broadcast in hopes of finding out new information about Metal Gear Solid V. For nearly three hours he talked about everything but the game. When the “big reveal” finally arrived, it was an announcement that you’ll be able to equip Solid Snake with a chicken hat.
Yes, a chicken hat.
To date, according to Kotaku, Kojima has announced he was finished with the Metal Gear Solid series on at least 10 separate occasions. So he has a history of toying with his audience.
But what’s happening now is more elaborate than any previous prank. Kojima splitting with Konami would be a huge deal. He’s been with the company since 1986, which means he’s provided loyalty and leadership for nearly 30 years, creating some of the best games in history. It’s hard to imagine either one without the other.
The future of Metal Gear Solid
Based on the mounting evidence, my guess is that Kojima will leave Konami after MGS V comes out later this year, but that won’t spell the end of the Metal Gear franchise. After all, Konami has already posted a job listing to hire people for a new unannounced game in the series.
What Metal Gear would look like without Kojima at the helm is anyone’s guess. But I suspect we’ll find out in the coming years.