From hero to zero
For me, it´s been a rather tormenting experience to see (and hear) what Konami has become over the years (let´s be honest. Konami is just a shadow of its former self nowadays), because I’ve been a fan of Konami´s since the early 90s (I became a fan once I started to play “Contra” for the NES system). In fact, all of this made me think about the time when I lost my hope and faith for SEGA and the Sonic franchise (as SEGA kept on releasing bad Sonic games at a very fast rate). However, Konami has been an even worse torment I have to say. As Konami has released some of the most beloved game series in the history of video games, game series such as “Metal Gear Solid,” “Silent Hill,” “Castlevania,” “Gradius,” “Contra,” “Bomberman” and “Dance Dance Revolution.” And with that freash in mind, where exactly did things start to go wrong for Konami?
Well, I would say that Konami went down hill after Silent Hill 3 (released back in 2003). Sure, Silent Hill 4: The Room wasn´t all that bad. However, you could really tell that the “magic” was starting to wear off. And when Akira Yamaoka (Yamaoka has made pretty much all the SH soundtracks between 1999 and 2009) left Konami back in December 2009. Things went from bad to even worse. As Yamaoka´s leave felt like the final nail to the coffin for the Silent Hill fans (Yamaoka´s music has done wonders to the SH series over the years). And I can´t really say that the situation became any better when Konami released one bad Silent Hill game after another either (as seen down below).
Silent Hill: Homecoming – Double Helix Games, 2008 – (PC) 59.38%, (360 71.96%, (PS3) 71.28%
Silent Hill: The Escape – Konami, 2009 – (iOS) 61%
Silent Hill: Book of Memories – WayForward, 2012 (PSV) 61.35%
Silent Hill: Downpour – Konami, 2012 (360) 66.61%, (PS3) 66.58%
Silent Hill HD Collection – Konami, 2012 (360) 67.56%, (PS3) 69%
I´m going to admit that I enjoyed “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories” (wii, 2010, Climax Group) – 79.36%) though, but that´s one of the very few “new” Silent Hill titles that have been any good at all. Then we got the part concerning Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro (famous film director and producer. Hellboy, Cowboys & Aliens, Edge of Tomorrow with many more) and “Silent Hills.” A lot of people got excited about that game, especially since “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) would play the leading role in the game. Well, “Silent Hills” went down the drain back in April this year. And just recently Guillermo del Toro stated that “he would never EVER work on a video game again.” I can´t blame del Toro for feeling like that though, as he has had some really bad experiences with the video game industry in the past:
“I have proven to be the albatross of video games,” “I joined THQ, and THQ goes broke. I join Kojima, and Kojima leaves Konami. I have decided, in order not to destroy anyone else’s life, I have decided I will never again get involved in video games. Otherwise, I’ll join someone and his house will explode, or something.” – Guillermo del Toro
I don´t want to sound evil or anything (pour more salt into the wounds of the fans), but “Silent Hills” was already in bad shape even before the game got canceled in April this year, since rumors had it that Kojima would leave Konami after Metal Gear Solid 5 (the rumors started in March this year). Well, most of us (Gamers and fans) didn´t want to believe those rumors. But then people started to notice that Konami had removed Kojima Productions logo from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain´s homepage (and from the box covers of the game).
However, even though Kojima is set to leave Konami after MGS5: TPP. Kojima stated the following (he wanted to calm down the MGS community):
“I want to reassure fans that I am 100% involved and will continue working on METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN; I’m determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date. Don’t miss it!”
That´s a fair enough answer from Kojima I suppose, but what will the faith of the Metal Gear Solid series look like without Kojima behind the steering wheel?
Will Konami leave the video game industry or not?
With all of these things combined (and the fact that Konami launched a new Castlevania game in the shape of an “erotic violence” Pachinko game), Konami has hit an all-time low. Because not only have they made their fan and consumer base really angry. Konami is also losing both money and talent. And I hardly doubt that the recent news about Konami treating their staff like prisoners (“big brother sees everything you do”) will help the company to tackle any of these challenges all that well. And you sure know that Konami is in deep trouble, when they’re reaching out to Youtubers to do promotion works for MGS5: TPP. As Konami has always been notorious for their copyright takedown attempts and ContentID claims on Youtube in the past (thus the #FuckKonami hashtag on Twitter).
And I have to say that Konami´s recent survey (in which Konami is asking their fans for opinions about their franchises) is a rather desperate move on their behalf. Some would say it´s a little to late for that now, and that Konami should have done that move years ago. And I honestly don´t even know if Konami can be saved at this point, nor if Konami is interested in being a part of the video game industry anymore. Because everything that Konami has done uptil now, has done a great damage to their company and fan base. And just to make things even worse, Konami announced back in May that they would focus more on the mobile market. This became clear when Konami´s new CEO, Hideki Hayakawa, stated the following to Nikkei Trendy Net (via NeoGaf):
“We will pursue mobile games aggressively,” “Our main platform will be mobiles. Following the pay-as-you-play model of games like Power pro and Winning Eleven with additional content, our games must move from selling things like ‘items’ to selling things like ‘features.’ – Hideki Hayakawa, CEO Konami
Sure, Konami made a follow-up statement in which they apologized for causing “anxiety” among Gamers worldwide. However, the damage has already been done, so I don´t know how many fans that really paid any attention to what Konami´s PR Director Jay Boor had to say on the matter. Anyhow, this is what Jay Boor said:
“Konami will continue to embrace the challenge of creating entertainment content via different platforms; across not only mobile platforms, but for home consoles, arcade units, and cards, to meet the changing needs of the times.”
As for the future of Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill, Jay Boor stated the following:
“We have nurtured them with care over many years since their inception, and will continue to produce products for both franchises, but we are not currently at a stage where we can announce the path these future titles will take.”
So by the looks of things, it really seems like Konami is eager to leave the games industry. And I have to say that it´s rather scary to think about how Konami went from a successful and much-beloved AAA games company, to a disliked sinking ship in such a short period of time. I mean, Konami was on top of the world during the 90s and the early 2000s. Nevertheless, like I said before, after Silent Hill 3 (which was released in 2003) Konami started to make one mistake after another. And now (over 12 years later), Konami is in a terrible state. So it´s going to be really hard for Hideki Hayakawa (Konami´s new and current CEO) to turn everything around for Konami.
It´s not impossible (just look at Capcom. They have done everything right as of lately. Thus the Resident Evil 2 Remake project), but Konami will have to make the hard decision if they’re going to stay or leave the video game industry. Because they can´t keep up losing money month after month. And “if” they decide to stay in the game industry. They will have to make up a really good plan. Either they will leave the PC and console market, and just focus on the mobile market. Alternatively, Konami will have to listen to their fans and consumers (no matter the which format they use), and simply give them what they want. However, no matter which path Konami will choose, they have to be smart and quick about it. As Konami is running out on extra lives.
With that said, what do you guys and girls think about Konami and their chances of surviving in the video games industry?
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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