You may have heard about the recent debacle surrounding legendary game developer Hideo Kojima. Konami are attempting to save face wherever possible, but trickles of information that may or may not be true are indicating that he no longer works for the company. Now it has been revealed, though not unexpectedly, that his other big name project – Silent Hills, has been cancelled.
It’s not a new scenario for a Japanese developer, as Kenji Inafune was dismissed from Capcom, spelling the end of the Mega Man franchise, but Kojima’s situation is potentially game changing. Suddenly the mind behind Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders, and Sega CD cult classic Snatcher is free to do whatever he wants. Inafune is using his newfound freedom to create Mighty Number 9: A spiritual successor to Mega Man. Kojima could very well do something extraordinary.
But what does this revelation mean for Konami and fans of Konami’s games? Obviously the backlash has damaged Konami to the point where they’re in full damage limitation mode, but the cracks are beginning to reveal themselves and their future is looking increasingly bleak.
Perhaps their sole gambit is that Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain is a short-term profitable endeavour. It is one of the most hyped games set to launch this year, so doubling down on it seems highly probable. Aside from this, however, there isn’t a great deal out there coming from Konami.
With Kojima no longer at Konami, Silent Hills is no more too. Guillermo del Toro just this week said regarding his involvement in the project that, “It’s not gonna happen and that breaks my greasy heart.” Meanwhile would-be protagonist Norman Reedus later tweeted: “Super bummed about this was really looking forward to it. Hopefully, it’ll come back around. Sorry everyone”.
This was before Konami’s official statement published on Eurogamer, which reads, “Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills‘ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.” A huge shame, as many felt the P.T. demo was one of the best things to come out of 2014. The fact it is now about to be removed from the PlayStation Store means that those who downloaded it have a rare piece of playable vapour-ware that will never see the light of day.
Konami’s other flagship franchise has also seen a setback. Castlevania is now seemingly on hiatus, as MercurySteam are no longer working on the franchise. In 2014, Koji “Iga” Igarashi took his whip and iconic hat and left Konami to form his own company. Many long time fans would like to see Iga be given the helm once more to create more of the 2D “Metroidvania” variety of the franchise, but historically that rarely happens.
Perhaps Konami’s saving grace at the moment is a franchise that up to last year was struggling against its competition. Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 saw general praise from critics and indeed more sales than previous years thanks in part to FIFA 15 not being as revolutionary as previous years. Given the success of last year’s game, it seems inevitable that Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 will be a thing though reduced revenue may mean reduced opportunities for likeness rights.
When I originally wrote this article, I said that Silent Hills would be a potential saving grace for the company. Alas though, with a high-profile cancellation, Konami is free falling at an ever increasing speed, but a few things might reinvigorate their fortunes. A welcome return to Castlevania’s roots might lure those long term fans back, but what might help Konami further is the creation of something new, innovative, and successful. However Konami wish to play it, the more they focus on limiting the damage of Kojima’s departure, the longer it will take to get gamers excited for their future endeavours.
Konami is a company I have fond gaming memories of. To see them in such a state is disheartening.