Game Developers come and go, hit peaks of success and reinvent themselves all the time. We’ve seen the doors shutter on once popular studios such as Maxis, seen Activision climb from mediocrity to financially successful mediocrity, and even Square-Enix reinvent themselves with their Western and European franchises taking center stage over their JRPG offerings. But today I want to talk about one developer that seems to be imploding right before our eyes: Konami.
There was a time back when Japanese development houses were on top, that Konami was at the head of the class. From the 8-bit glory days to the PS2 era, Konami was responsible for such successes as Contra, Castlevania, Dance Dance Revolution (yeah, yeah), Suikoden, Metal Gear and of course… Silent Hill. So what’s going on with Konami today?
The Castlevania reboot seems to have stalled out with a critically panned Lords of Shadow 2 (sporting a 63 score on metacritic). Metal Gear Solid’s future seems to be one based on corporate interest rather than creative direction, and Silent Hill? Well, let me take a deep breath before I get into that one. But there has to be something they’re working on, right? Well… One look at Konami’s official website under the games tab and you may be surprised to see only 2 unreleased games, MGS5 and a new Soccer game.
It’s not a stretch to realize that Konami isn’t just on a downward slide, they’re going off of a cliff. This becomes all the more obvious with the recent (apparent) firing of Hideo Kojima, a man who for all intents and purposes holds the only viability the company has left in his hands. The Metal Gear Solid franchise is the only horse in the Konami stable that consistently performs, his name carries more weight than nearly any other artist in the industry, and his recently announced revival of Silent Hill for the company quickly became the most talked about and anticipated game from the past year.
The question of “what happened with Kojima” becomes more than just about one person, it’s essentially Konami nailing their own coffin shut. The backlash from the fans has been massive up until this point and now with the announcement of the cancellation of Silent Hills, it’s only going to get worse. Konami has put forth a company line of how they’re going to continue developing both the Metal Gear and Silent Hill brands going forward on their own, but if you look at the last non-Kojima Metal Gear offering (2013’s Revengeance) or the last few Silent Hill offerings (including the strangely horrible Book of Memories) there’s not a lot of reason to get excited. Which is sad.
So what do we have to be excited about? I’ll leave you with this: Kojima has been vocal about wanting to get out from under the shadow of Metal Gear Solid for a long time. Once the storm blows over and he is able to have creative control and do what he wants, I am confident Kojima will be welcomed at any studio (if he doesn’t simply form his own) to create something new and amazing. And when it comes to Silent Hills, while I am extremely disappointed about its cancellation, I remind myself that nothing about P.T. was actually tied to the Silent Hill brand. There was no fog, no Pyramid Head or radio chatter. It really existed outside of all the popular Silent Hill conventions, which means it could be reborn as something else entirely. Kojima can take any of his unique ideas that formulated P.T. and launch a brand new horror IP that goes far beyond anything Konami has published in the last 10 years.
So while Konami may be sinking slowly, I have no doubt that great things will be born from this. We just have to be patient. It’s coming.
This week’s speed painting is ‘Jade’ from Beyond Good and Evil. Jade was another request. I’ve almost filled all of my pending requests which means I need YOU to make the next one! Who do you want to see go into the gallery next? Let me know in the comments!