Gaming Analysis: If there was ever a perfect example of the absolute worst practices and conduct that any gaming company could possibly achieve it would be Konami. However, I wouldn’t call them the worst gaming company of all since, technically, they’re not a gaming company anymore, at least not a videogame company.
Still, their misconduct and depravity is in a category of its own, standing as a testament to not only the worst practices in gaming but in general business management. The list of Konami’s misdeeds is a mile long, and while most gamers are well-aware of these events, I will highlight the main ones for those who may be interested in gaming or who are just curious, as this story is so amusingly absurd that it begs for a movie adaptation.
Konami is no stranger to gaming and has produced some of the most loved and critically acclaimed franchises in gaming history, but the main four would be Silent Hill, Contra, Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania. The popularity of these titles is astounding, some of the most beloved games ever made, which makes it all the more crushing to learn just how Konami has actively worked to sully them in recent years.
First we have the P.T. fiasco. Silent Hill, a genre-defining survival-horror series, has gone for almost a decade with no new entries, so last year Konami released what essentially amounts to a tech demo called P.T., which was intended as a promotion for a new game in the works called Silent Hills. This announcement was greeted with overwhelmingly popular reception and excitement from gamers and journalists alike, so what did Konami do following this? They cancelled the game outright for no logical reason.
Now, in the world of business, gaming included, projects can fail for any number of reasons, regardless of public interest, but what makes this so much more reprehensible is that, after cancelling the game, Konami completely removed P.T. from every digital gaming service that promoted it. No explanation, no reasons why, just gone as if it never existed. Building up so much hype and excitement and then giving the proverbial middle finger to their fans. Great PO move, Konami.
Now, this alone may seem just a rare infraction, but that’s because we’re still at the tip of the iceberg. Now we get to the good stuff; pachinko! For those unfamiliar, Pachinko is essentially the Japanese version of rollers found in casinos fused with pinball. It’s also insanely popular and profitable, raking in 19 trillion yet in 2013, which translates to US $175 billion. Konami, being a Japan-based company, saw all the yen, or dollar signs, in their eyes and the rest was history. Oh, Konami began releasing new games from their signature franchises, but as pachinko machines!
Not only had they denied their fans what would have been a new Silent Hill, but they completely stopped production on video games and began to rapidly release pachinko versions of every major franchise, pretty much stating they were done with video games for good. Oh, and just to showcase the love and respect Konami showed for its games during this conversion, they converted Castlevania from being an epic struggle against the symbol of evil himself, Dracula, to an erotic pachinko machine dubbed “erotic violence.” Aside from having no idea what that even means, the promotional video for this machine shows just how shameless and exploitive Konami really are. It’s not straight-up porn, but it does hinge on it and serves as an atrocity to one of the best, and oldest, franchises in gaming.
And now we get to the really good stuff, Konami’s debacle with Mister Hideo Kojima. Kojima is one of Konami’s most influential game designers and is largely responsible for putting Konami on the map with his critically-acclaimed Metal Gear Solid series, a man who shows the true passion of his craft, which so many other developers have lost. In recent times, he could be labeled as the sole driving force of innovation on Konami’s entire development team, so of course Konami would do everything possible to keep such a valuable asset, right? I’m pretty sure you know the answer by now.
Well, Konami and Mr. Kojima have had a huge falling-out in recent times, somewhat related to creative differences and rapidly laying-off their entire game development team, but the biggest one was how Konami constantly went out of its way to discredit him and his work in part by simply removing his name from the box art for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, a game that the entire gaming community knows he made, in Konami’s juvenile attempts to pretend like he never even existed. But where this all really came to a head was at the 2015 Game Awards where Metal Gear Solid 5 won an award, but Kojima wasn’t there to accept it because Konami, in an amazing feat of disgusting injustice, barred Kojima from attending, threatening him with legal action.
While all these stunts are beyond reprehensible, perhaps the biggest insult is that Konami is nowhere near bankrupt. In fact, they’re doing extremely well, due largely to the popularity of Pachinko in Japan. They’re in the black and will be for a long while, meaning that in the end Konami came out on top, their deplorable business practices only benefitted them in the end. While they will likely be forever vilified by the gaming community, how much do you think they care at this point?
However, there’s always a silver lining, in this case being that Kojima’s contract with Konami has finally expired, giving him the freedom to develop the game that everyone who played P.T. wanted. Konami is Konami, and at this point it’s best to just forget they ever existed.