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With Changing Market and Kojima Leaving, What is the Future Of Metal Gear Solid?

Metal Gear has been Kojima’s franchise for 30 years. The iconic developer pretty much single-handedly made this franchise into what it is today.

Hideo Kojima is among the most influential and talented developers of our time and he has been with Konami for as long as anyone can remember. He held the position of Vice President of Konami Digital Entertainment till 2011 and is the heart and soul of Kojima Productions.

He is mostly recognized for his work on Metal Gear Solid, but he has worked on Castlevania, Zone of the Enders and more.

He spent most of his career working on Metal Gear, the first game was released back in 1987 but Kojima started producing these titles in 1998, when Metal Gear Solid was released on PlayStation One.

After almost 30 years, Kojima will release his final Metal Gear Solid game this year. Called, MGSV: The Phantom Pain, the game will mark the end of an era as Kojima will say goodbye to Snake.

The story behind Kojima’s departure from Konami is complex and their are many aspects to it. Corporate restructuring and Konami’s efforts to make more money suggests that Kojima isn’t the only one getting his contract changed, hundreds of employees are going to be affected as Konami converts into an HQ based organization.

Back in March 2015, Konami removed Kojima’s name from its executive position and from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain promotional material and website.

The name of Kojima Productions LA was also changed to Konami LA.

It was the same time when rumors started to circulate that Kojima is now no more than a contractor at Konami, scheduled to leave the company during December.

A studio that was front and center when it comes to MGS related news, marketing, interviews, was now given limited access to company emails, internet and corporate phone calls. Reaching Kojima for his side of the story was now a difficult task.

According to recent reports, Kojima Productions has now disbanded, and Konami removing Kojima’s name from Metal Gear Solid V’s box art, solidifies the fact that this year we won’t be seeing another an MGS that’s “A Hideo Kojima Game.”

Some may even say that Konami has gone bat shit crazy, but I won’t be using those words…For now.

Developing MGS games is expensive and production costs rise with each installment. Reports suggest that Konami wants to generate more revenue, and can’t keep making expensive MGS games as sales haven’t been according to their expectations.

The current trajectory of the industry indicates that smaller Mobile games provide more financial security to developers and publishers, as compared to AAA games. Especially in Japan, mobile gaming is on the rise and has been for a while.

Konami CEO Kagemasa Kozuki even went on to say that mobile gaming is the “future of gaming.” Revenues for Konami’s Digital Entertainment business are shrinking and interestingly, Konami’s non-gaming businesses are generating more revenue.

(Video Game Business = 67,973,000,000 yen vs Other Businesses = 88,433,000,000 yen by December 31, 2014)

Konami isn’t the only company suffering, Japan’s gaming industry in general is disrupted by the rise of mobile. User focus has shifted from dedicated gaming platforms to applications and online games on smartphone devices. As a result, traditional game companies are facing unprecedented disruption.

Meanwhile, new game companies with focus on mobile are doing well.

Japanese mobile gaming

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In future, Konami will invest more in its non-gaming businesses like health clubs and various gambling products; of course, more focus will be put on mobile applications as well.

Where does MGS fit into all of this? Well, if you’re hoping to continue seeing flashy, expensive, AAA quality MGS games in the future, you may want to keep your expectations in check.

Konami did say that they will continue developing MGS, but failed to mention at what capacity. MGS may possibly be moved to mobile, while dedicated gaming systems will get moderate-budget spin-offs like Metal Gear Rising.

Metal Gear Solid was suppose to end with MGS2: Sons of Liberty and since then each installment has been written as it was the last game.

Even if Konami does make another big-budget sequel, as a fan of the series I highly doubt it will have the essence of MGS, which is brought-in by Kojima-san.

If Kojima leaves in December and Konami decides to make a new AAA MGS game down the line, best course of action would be to hire him as a contractor for the project. Who knows? This might be exactly how Konami is planning to handle the main series in the future for dedicated gaming systems.

But if that was the case, why fire Kojima at all?

The full story of Kojima and Konami remains a mystery for the time being, but I can’t help but compare what happened here with the falling-out between Big Boss and Zero…

Both had their own interpretation of the Boss’s will, may be both parties here have a different idea of what Metal Gear Solid is and what it should be.

Where do you think Metal Gear Solid is heading? Do you think Konami will hire Kojima as a contractor for next Metal Gear Solid?