Hideo Kojima, the creator of series like Metal Gear Solid, Zone of Enders, and Snatchers, has left Konami. According to an anonymous source speaking to the New Yorker, Kojima left officially on Oct. 9. A non-compete clause in his contract with the company keeps him from working until December, at which point one of the other big publishers should be sweeping him up immediately.
Konami has denied the departure, telling Tokyo Sports that the creator is “on vacation” and still listed as an employee.
“Currrently, Kojima and the development team are finished developing Metal Gear Solid V and are taking a long time off work,” the spokesperson said. When asked about a picture provided by Simon Parkin, author of the original piece, from what appears to be a farewell party, the spokesperson simply said, “we’re not sure what kind of thing that was.” Kotaku meanwhile has independently confirmed via an anonymous source that Kojima’s contract ends in December, and Kojima did mention a “legally binding agreement with his former employer” when asked to speak out on the endless drama of the last six or so months.
Here is a photograph of Kojima's farewell party on October 9th at Konami, which Konami claims no knowledge of: pic.twitter.com/xgRUoYs5qt
— Simon Parkin (@SimonParkin) October 20, 2015
Departures like these were surprising at first – employment in Japan, at least in previous generations, has typically been a lifelong commitment. Game creators like Keiji Inafune, Koji Igarashi, and now Hideo Kojima have departed their parent companies in the last few years, indicative of how thorough the shift to mobile has been. If it seems like Platinum Games is the only company in Japan still making console games outside of Nintendo, it’s not that far off. Many companies have shifted some or all of their attention to the mobile market to which many Japanese gamers are shifting their dollars. Even as consoles sell faster than ever in the US, they’re a dying breed in Japan.
Now Kojima can hopefully work on something other than Metal Gear. Despite it being one of my favorite series, I can’t help but think he’d rather do something new. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain confirmed with confidence that even after nearly 30 years in the industry, Kojima can bring together technology and vision to make a truly compelling game, even if the plot is sillier than a G.I. Joe cartoon. Assuming Kojima continues making big budget console games, where would you like to see him end up? Companies like Bethesda, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Activision have surely discussed it, and a company like Platinum Games could make for a good home.
I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kojima.