Can you imagine a world where Konami’s Metal Gear Solid was not a massive hit? Director Hideo Kojima says that Konami believed this would be the case. In fact, the elements that gave it universal acclaim at release when it first launched in 1998 were all because of creative liberties Konami had granted him, thinking the game would go nowhere.
And yet here we are in 2014, still figuring out how to find the perfect balance between gameplay and cinematics that a video game accomplished on inferior hardware nearly twenty years ago.
Kojima stated this belief in an interview with Geoff Keighley on Konami’s Twitch Channel. Creating art through adversity is one thing, but being free from the stress of selling his game is what allowed Kojima to define the next decade of video game storytelling.
“Neither I nor anyone else expected Metal Gear Solid to sell at all, so I was fortunate because I didn’t have to think, ‘I have to sell this game this much,’ so pretty much all I did was put in the game all the things I liked. Also, people surrounding me didn’t have expectations. I didn’t have the pressure of ‘you have to sell this much,’ so that was really good.”
Don’t you just miss the PlayStation days? The risks publishers and developers took? The relatively small amount of money it took to make a game, and the relatively small number of copies required to be sold to make that money back? The video game atmosphere was not quite so calculated and dire, and everyone was excited to see new ideas and revolutions at every turn. Sometimes I think my generation was spoiled by video games in the 90s.
Can you imagine The Misadventures of Tron Bonne and Parappa the Rapper highlighting the PlayStation 4? Cherish the thought.
Nowadays, no publisher, with the exception of maybe Take-Two (see BioShock, Borderlands, Spec Op: The Line, XCOM, etc.), is willing to put the same resources into a game that could possibly put them in the red. Nobody wants to offend or chase away potential customers with long cutscenes, excessive reading, questionable themes, or anything that strays too far from the norm, and that’s why we won’t be seeing another Metal Gear Solid anytime in the near future, from the AAA market at least.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain doesn’t even seem comfortable with its unique sense of importance anymore, taking imagery straight from Red Dead Redemption to reveal itself to the world. Where will we see the next revolution this time around?