Hideo Kojima hasn’t left Konami, says the company – he’s merely “on vacation”.
That’s the official line from the publisher behind Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which it backs up with the assertion that lengthy vacations after development on a game is finished is a common practice within the industry. So there’s nothing to see here, folks.
Except that’s not what gaming journalists believe.
Here’s what we know:
Hideo Kojima’s name and any mention of his studio, Kojima Productions, were removed from all Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain packaging before the game hit store shelves. Earlier this year, we started hearing about how he was expected to leave the company after MGSV came out. Konami has consistently denied this.
Kojima himself has been incredibly quiet on the matter, save for, oh, a mission in MGSV where Big Boss rescues someone that looks very much like him from an office that could be considered Konami-esque.
Now, we’ve heard from Simon Parkin, a freelance journalist who’s worked for The Guardian, Eurogamer and The New Yorker, that Konami threw Kojima a party recently (the 9th of October), and Kojima has not been seen at Konami’s offices since.
Parkin told us that “sources within Konami told me that Kojima’s contract with the company runs until December. As of October 9th, when his team threw a farewell party for the director, he is no longer working in the office.”
If you’ve never heard of “gardening leave“, this pretty much fits the description exactly. It’s when a company and an employee want to part ways, but the employee’s contract prevents them from going ahead with the split; so instead, the employee is sent on “gardening leave” – that is, a leave of absence with full pay – until the contract expires, after which both parties go their separate ways.
While this fits what’s happening to Kojima, Konami is adamant he’s still an employee. That said, he would still technically be a Konami employee while on gardening leave so the company wouldn’t exactly be lying, but it’s also not being particularly clear about what’s going on. And clearly, something’s going on.
So we’ll just have to wait and see. Come December, however, when Kojima’s contract expires, expect to hear shortly thereafter of some other major publisher swooping in to bring him onboard in order to give their games a touch of his Kojima magic.
What’ll happen to the Metal Gear series without his curatorship, however, is anyone’s guess. Our guess? That it’ll collapse under the weight of his absence because really, nobody can Kojima a game quite like Hideo Kojima can.[Image – CC BY-SA 3.0]