Escape from Konami

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter months of speculation surrounding game developer Hideo Kojima’s public fall out with publisher Konami, the esteemed video game auteur finally confirmed his departure from the publishing house on 16th December, directly contradicting Konami’s own statements that that he was simply “on vacation” following the completion of Metal Gear Solid 5.


Regardless of how much input Kojima had on his departure, the move marks a bold new direction for the developer, who’s successes with the Metal Gear franchise over the last 28 years has lead to him becoming one of the most revered and respected figures within the industry. However, this success took place under the umbrella of Konami, which Kojima joined in 1986. Therefore the move is the first time the developer has made a significant career shift since he first began game development.

Thus the obvious question arises; what’s next for Hideo Kojima? And it appears the developer has been asking himself the same question. Not one to sit idle, at the same time as confirming his departure Kojima also announced the reformation of Kojima Productions as an independent studio, with former Metal Gear Solid artist Yoji Shinkawa and producer Kenichiro Imaizumi joining him. If this were not enough, Kojima also declared that the studio’s first game would be an exclusive to PS4, implying that work is already underway on a new title.

The obvious question arises; what’s next for Hideo Kojima?

The question therefore becomes not ‘what will Kojima do now?” but rather “What will Kojima’s next game be?”, a question somewhat more difficult to answer than if asked about most other developers. The unique blend of western directorial stylings mixed with Japanese cultural influences present within his games have lead to a style that is very distinctly his, and thus is hard to pigeonhole. However inferences can still be made. Kojima has always had a strong affinity for mechs, with the eponymous ‘Metal Gears’ of his most famous franchise being mechanical bipedal robots to one extent or another. If this wasn’t enough, Kojima took the the theme one step further in 2001 with the release of Zone of the Enders, which focused solely around the theme of mech combat. It seems rational to assume then that Kojima will continue this trend with his next title, using mechs to form a key narrative or gameplay component to some capacity. However it also appears that Kojima wants to retain a human element to his games, something he has delivered so effectively on in the past. Shinkawa has mirrored this thought, stating that one of his “big goals is, visually, with whatever characters we create, to go beyond [just recognisable], to be more recognisable, more beloved”. It’s clear that Kojima thrives off the interpersonal drama and conflict within his titles, and his games so often explore that nature of what it means to be human that it would be difficult to imagine him developing a title devoid of any of this humanity.

So far, so familiar then. Yet to dismiss Kojima’s next title as simply “Metal Gear in disguise” would be a mistake. Freed from the shackles of triple A publishing and it’s expectations, and with a more streamlined development team one can expect Kojima to push the boundaries once more. What his titles may lack in base conceptual originality, they more than make up for in narrative complexity and character development. Kojima is a man with much to say, whether it be commenting on the danger of nuclear weapons, the possibility of choosing peace in a hostile world, or the existence of free will despite personal context, genetic heritage or non-omniscience. Kojima’s games are rich, engaging and thought provoking in a manner that very few others are within the medium, and it’s part of the reason he’s such a fascinating individual to so many. Even if he chooses to play it safe, releasing a title that is Metal Gear in all but name, one thing is certain; it will be undeniably a Kojima game.




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