Update: Konami are denying that Kojima has left the company, saying that he is instead “on vacation.” More details below.
Metal Gear Solid maestro Hideo Kojima has left Konami. We’ve been reporting on rumours about Kojima’s departure from the publishers since March, but now it’s reported by The New Yorker that October 9th was his last day at the company.
The New Yorker write that, “The departure ceremony, according to one of the hundred or so guests who attended, and who asked that I not use his name, took place at Kojima Productions, the director’s in-house studio, and was ‘a rather cheerful but also emotional goodbye.'” Kojima Productions being an in-house studio means that Kojima has also parted company with the development studio he helped build and the team with which he recently released Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
There’s not yet any official statement from either Konami or Kojima, but the departure likely has little to do with the success of the Metal Gear Solid series – which continues to be huge – and more to do with the company re-focusing on mobile games.
It’s anyone’s guess what this means for Metal Gear, Hideo Kojima or the other staff at Kojima Productions. The New Yorker story mentions that Kojima has a non-compete clause in his contract which won’t expire till December. I imagine he’s already fielding calls from every first-party manufacturer and every major publisher, and it’ll be interesting to see whether he’ll join a Japanese or western company, or whether he’ll resign himself to making smaller games and attempt to remain independent as Keiji Inafune has.
I am a little sad given how much I and we enjoyed The Phantom Pain, but I’m also excited to see what Kojima will make now he’s free to start from scratch.
Update: Right, so Kotaku have picked up on a story on Japanese website Tokyo Sports which includes a comment from a spokesperson for Konami. They say that, “Currently, Kojima is a listed as a company employee [at Konami].” and that “Currently, Kojima and the development team are finished developing Metal Gear Solid V and are taking a long time off from work.”
It’s possible of course that Konami would be reluctant to admit at this stage that Kojima has left the company, and “vacation” could simply be gardening leave ahead of the expiration of his contract. I guess nothing is official until it’s official and we shouldn’t expect clarity any time soon.
Update: Simon Parkin, author of the original New Yorker story, has posted this photo to Twitter of what’s apparently Kojima’s leaving do:
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