Oh, Konami! You’re either gluttons for pain or you’re the biggest brunch of trolls within the gaming fandom this side of <insert joke about your disliked side in a gaming fandom conflict of choice here>. A ways back, my complete distaste and disgust was reserved for Electronic Arts (alias, “EA Games.” Over the years, my ire towards many companies came and went. This is mostly because they became less relevant and suffered for their mistakes. That or they realized what they have been doing wrong and have made an effort to correct their past issues. In EA’s case, one could say it’s the former leading into the latter. However, the time to grill them is over… for now. We’re here to dig into Konami! I have a feeling the disdain for Konami will not vanish any time soon.
NOTE: I know I didn’t post anything during the previous weekend. The fair I volunteered at took a fair bit out of me, in addition to my non-stop job hunting… which may as well be a job all its own. So, my time feels squeezed and attempting to balance it is quite the struggle. As always, thanks for understanding. Also, if you’re keeping a distance from the Konami clusterfuck, please understand my reasons for continuing to be flustered with a company that I supported for ages.
It’s truly incredible what can happen in only a 2 year span. Back then, I was very excited about a new Metal Gear Solid game that very well might complete the series. Here was the finale that Kojima had been waiting to present all of us!. Not only that, the prospect of a new Silent Hill filled me with maniacal horror-loving glee! This was a title guaranteed to revolutionize and revitalize the dying survival horror genre. I was also completely oblivious to much of the drama going on the industry, as the aforementioned reference was one of the reasons why I became less active within video gaming news, industry and culture. But, that’s the last thing related to internal gaming controversy you’ll probably ever hear from me, in part because it’s not the relevant topic to what I’m saying here. That and I don’t want to get lost in a side tangent. Even if I distanced myself from as much drama within the gaming world as possible, I couldn’t avoid the brewing conflict between Hideo Kojima and Konami. The former is iconic for producing the content that built up the company in the first place, while the latter is a behemoth that spiraled out of control. Sure, Konami wasn’t Kojima’s baby anymore and he did overstep some of his boundaries at times, but his position in that overall debacle was a bit more favorable in the end. Granted, Konami got a good brunt of criticism with Phantom Pain and they were initially skeptical with Silent Hills. Granted, if their PR had more active engagement with the community, they would know that P.T. (the Playable Teaser) was a tremendous success and created a level of hype rarely seen.
As anyone with a gaming device or basic interest in games has heard, Kojima was booted out after the conflicts between him and Konami reached a boiling point. In the end, a lot of it came down to him being supposedly “too expensive” following some corporate restructuring that the company was experiencing. Lots of Kojima Productions staff were being restricted, ignored or cut entirely. Kojima had proved to be a valuable asset to the company, but they figured they could move on without him. Sure, a company has to prune branches when things begin to dry up, but there was bound to be wiser roots they could have gone. But hey, that was further proof that Konami lost any sense of proper judgement. Or at least, this was the tip of the iceberg.
One of Kojima’s projects, Silent Hills, was in hot water not too long after. Ah, Silent Hills. There was the potential for something monumental within the gaming world! The teaser demo alone proved to be super powerful as a standalone product. Even though Kojima acted all smug and said it was a “parody of modern horror” gaming, it was still genuinely terrifying and proved that his collab with Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus would have created the stuff of legends. Sadly, in April 2015, it became a legend as Konami said that the project was cancelled and the product was to be removed from the store. As one would expect, with lack of coherent reasoning from Konami (besides Kojima wanting to bail), the internet went in an uproar. In just a few days, much of the fandom turned on Konami. With Silent Hills canned, what they did they have planned to work on instead? Pachinko machines and a kart racer app! Yup, gambling and mobile gaming. While the former bumped into quite a bit of struggle with Japan’s gambling laws, the latter squirmed its way into an over-saturated market that’s the bane of console/PC gamers everywhere. (I mean, my angry rant about Roller Coaster Tycoon Mobile pretty much implies that.) So, we got a kart game where you can play as “Boogeyman” and a gambling machine where you earn points and “HIT THE LEVER!” (In the case of Castlevania, that version of the machine will probably be the only support we ever see again.)
Vitriol against Konami turned more and more vicious over the next couple months, perhaps rightfully so. Phantom Pain was on the rise and news that Kojima’s name being scrubbed off of it proved salt on the wound. In the end, the game still had tons of nods towards the fans (including a Silent Hills themed easter egg) and fans were encouraged to give the last of the series the support it deserved. That didn’t end the hatred though. Some reactions were petty commentary about how a fire should have burned down their entire office to outright attacking the company. (Hackers wanted!) More time passed, flames erupted once more during gaming award shows. The following year, it mostly became eyes watching Konami, in hopes they’d slip up and fall.
Fast forward to just a couple of days ago! They’ve done it! Their lack of innovation, wisdom and guidance has culminated into this one moment. I speak of Metal Gear Survive. Without the aid of Kojima, the company looks to be in a train wreck. Commentators from all walks of life have pounced on this travesty like pack hunters seizing the weakest of escaping prey. Meanwhile, Konami seems more confident than Bethesda’s ever smug Todd Howard. Surely, this bold new direction is what fans want, right? I’m talking about the Call of Duty Zombies formula that hasn’t been played out (to the point that they’re making a Zombieland expansion in Infinite Warfare to keep their mini-game relevant.) At first, it was a pleasant diversion and a pretty fun minigame. That’s right, you heard here first! Doc is defending an aspect of the Call of Duty franchise. You may leave comments about how I’m not a “true gamer” below. Now, it’s a pinnacle of game design sloth and stagnation. Considering Konami’s other recent contributions are nothing to acknowledge (and yes, that includes their tabletop hobby sector too), this isn’t a surprise in the slightest. As one expects, it seems to be unanimously rejected. Now, a trailer need not be everything. The E3 Trailers for No Man’s Sky showed a far more lush and beautiful landscape than the derpy dinosaur-like things we got in the end. Likewise, this atrocity could turn out to be a mediocre cash-in entry that’s quickly forgotten. However, I still remember Konami’s attempt at making a fighting game out of Castlevania for the Wii. Okay, I mostly remember the album art made by the artist of Death Note.
As many gamers hope, maybe Konami will realize they’ve been dumbasses and try to make up for it… if it’s not already too late. If not that, perhaps have the satisfaction of Konami completely crashing and burning. Time will tell and our lust for blood will be sated in one way or another. Whatever happens in the near future will happen. Meanwhile, I’ll have my lawnchair readied, a seemingly endless bucket of popcorn popped and some 3D glasses to watch their spectacle continue to explode in one way or another.
IMAGE CREDIT: MarksMxTV