April Fools’ Joke, or is Kojima Set to Leave Konami?

March 30, 2015

Normally when a game company is trending on Twitter, the hope is that it’s because an anticipated game has just released to critical acclaim, or the fan base is ecstatic about a new piece of information. In March of 2015, one of the gaming industry’s giants was trending, but for a reason that had some people scratching their heads and others gasping in disbelief.

This giant was Konami, and rumors were that Hideo Kojima, the man behind the incredibly popular Metal Gear Solid series, would be leaving the company.

Why Did People Suspect He Was Leaving?

What’s interesting about this entire ordeal was the fact that neither Kojima nor Konami said anything at first. Rather, it was fans who smelled something fishy after noticing a few clues across the net.

The fact that Konami is planning to make changes to their executive department this coming April was the initial spark of the rumors. Concern came when NeoGAF and Reddit users noticed that Kojima is already omitted from the list Konami executives on their website.

This alone probably wouldn’t be enough to cause speculation across the net, but the next sudden changes clearly were.

First off, the Kojima Productions website suddenly received a complete makeover that removed all traces of the name “Kojima,” including the fox logo, and basically turned it into a Konami page. Second, the official Twitter account for Metal Gear, previously “Kojima Pro Live,” has been abandoned and replaced with a new account: “METAL GEAR OFFICIAL.”

The last, and perhaps the most alarming, clue was the renaming of Kojima Productions Los Angeles, the studio working on the online portion of MGSV, into Konami Los Angeles Studio. Suffice to say, Konami removing the Kojima name from their sites and social media pages was enough to send the entire gaming community into speculation.

So Is Kojima Actually Leaving Or Not?

All signs point to yes, including a statement Konami had no choice but to send out as rumors swirled:

To Customers,

Thank you for your continued patronage of KONAMI products and services.

The latest title in the METAL GEAR series,”METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN” (below, “MGSV: TPP”), will be released as planned starting on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 in North America, Latin America, and Europe, followed by Japan and Asia on Wednesday, September 2. Hideo Kojima will remain involved throughout.

Hideo Kojima stated, “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!”

In addition, KONAMI will continue to develop and distribute top-quality content in the METAL GEAR series following “MGSV: TPP.” We greatly anticipate and deeply appreciate your ongoing support for METAL GEAR.

As the next step in the series, KONAMI has already resolved to develop new “METAL GEAR.”

We will be conducting interviews for main staff to lead the development.”

It sounds fine and dandy until you notice how much Konami is trying to point out that Kojima will be involved with MGSV, but nothing else after. They emphasize that the Metal Gear series will continue after The Phantom Pain, and even end the statement with a “conducting interviews” comment suggesting they’re already in the process of replacing Kojima entirely.

Why Does Everyone Care So Much?

For all we know, this could be another one of Kojima’s elaborate and often-brilliant PR stunts. But if he is in fact leaving the company that helped him develop one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time, it’s a big deal. There are few developers we can think of that are as tied together with their brainchild as Kojima is with the Metal Gear series.

Thus, it’s probably obvious seeing why fans of these games are in disbelief. Kojima not only created the original Metal Gear for MSX2/NES but has been involved with every title, including the one responsible for popularizing the stealth genre: Metal Gear Solid. Since then, he has been at the helm of all the portable titles, remakes, and of course, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

The cause for concern is simple: can Metal Gear continue without its creator?

Although it’s hard to believe, it wouldn’t be the first time a popular game series went on to find success even after its original maker disappeared. Perhaps Konami is confident that they’ll find a successor to lead the series when they start conducting interviews for their next executive appointments on April 1st.

Wait, Did You Say April 1st? As in, April Fools’ Day?

Yep. Here’s hoping we’re just being fooled once again!

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