Nikkei is reporting on new allegations on the situation with Hideo Kojima, and apparently Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is only the beginning when it comes to the poor working conditions for Konami.
A small recap for those unaware: before and on top of the Kojima rumors, Konami had already roundly started firing high profile developers. This includes Dance Dance Revolution composer Tak Fujii, Bemani creator Naoki Maeda, Love Plus creator Akira Uchida, and Momotaru Dentetsu creator Akira Sakuma. The truth is, when former Castlevania head Koji Igarashi left Konami, it was a dignified move on his part. Now, we know what all these developers faced behind the scenes.
Konami’s culture had become downright toxic. Email with outsiders was handled using a randomized email address that was changed regularly. Lunch was regulated with time cards and cameras, with offenders outed to the rest. Worst of all, underperforming employees, even high level staff and veterans, were moved to demeaning work, including assembly line work, security guard detail at their headquarters, even cleaning up the garbage at Konami’s fitness club. One incident, were some staff liked a Facebook status about an employee leaving the company, led to everyone involved getting moved.
An anonymous source independently corroborated these rumors, claiming a former high profile composer actually managed to transition succesfully into a security job and is now head of this department. For most other developers, including veterans who worked on games like Gradius, Contra and Castlevania, the move to security detail cannot be seen as anything other than a demotion.
Konami founder Kagemasa Kozuki, one of the top richest men in Japan and the world, and now 74, has apparently had a complete change of heart regarding console gaming. This all started with Dragon Collection, which made a lot of money with a budget below $ 1 million since 2010. He is no longer keen at funding top dollar for franchises like Metal Gear Solid.
And so, regarding their game projects, Metal Gear Solid 5development has stood at over $ 80 million since April, and Kojima essentially fell out of favor since the game’s delay. Momotaru Dentetsu has been licensed out to Nintendo, and Love Plus, Tokimeki, and Suikoden projects have been indefinitely delayed, asLove Plus’ Uchida was fired just last March.
We may, of course, never get official confirmation of any of these, but will see validation of these rumors only from Konami’s actions regarding all these aforementioned games. Finally, please note that are no claims that Konami plans to leave console gaming, as Mercury Steam teased what is potentially a new Contra game on their site a week ago.