Metal Gear Solid composer offers insight into the split between Hideo Kojima and Konami

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is just around the corner, but it's still hard to write about without mentioning the high-profile drama between the game's creator and publisher.

In an interview between Metal Gear Central (no relation!) and Metal Gear Solid composer Rika Muranaka, a fresh light was cast on the split between Kojima and Konami.

Here's a quick recap: Metal Gear godfather Hideo Kojima is reportedly being let go by parent company Konami after MGSV's launch. The creator's name and production studio has been scrubbed from Metal Gear Solid V's website and box art. As a result, the high-profile Silent Hill reboot between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro was unceremoniously cancelled. Konami has made various haphazard statements apologising for causing anxiety for the future of their most beloved franchises, but it hasn't killed the rumors.

In the interview, Muranaka claims that Hideo doesn't enjoy a "Hollywood lifestyle" and that he is instead paid a fixed salary for the past 20 years. This is quite different from Western game publishing models, which see subsidiary and third-party devs rewarded bonuses and profit-sharing for strong sales performances. Obsidian famously missed out on a bonus for Fallout: New Vegas for failing to hit 90/100 on Metacritic, they sadly landed 89/100.

As a result of this payment model, Muranaka thinks that Hideo Kojima has no incentive to consider budgetary concerns, stating that he "doesn't care about the money". It seems that Konami felt that his apparent lack of business sense was harming the company:

..."I think that's probably why Hideo got let go because uh, his business sense, you know - isn't there. He's a creator, he doesn't think about the money or budget or anything like that. So Hideo continued to keep making the game how he feels he can make it.[...] If he's not complete he'll keep going and that's just how he is, and the company can't afford to have an employee like that. They need to be budgeted, have a deadline and a recouping profit you know, Hideo doesn't think like that. He just wants to create."...

Muranaka elaborated further, noting that Hideo wanted to create an entire new engine for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which even draws its namesake from the popular game series. Creating the Fox Engine took longer than expected, and this led to further delays for MGSV.

Hideo's lack of concern for profit-sharing or bonuses would be in-line with the vast amount of hidden 'Easter Eggs') and other small details Metal Gear Solid games tend to have, which always tend to outstrip similar content in other games. Adding this material probably doesn't have a massive impact on review scores or sales, but certainly costs Konami money in terms of development resources.

I'd argue that Kojima's signature quirkiness and penchant for polish is what makes Metal Gear special, in an otherwise crowded military game space. However, there's certainly a fine line to tread between the business and craftsmanship of making video games. Triple A budgets grow forever larger as publishers and developers try to out-do themselves. Konami certainly doesn't have a console or PC franchise that can boast similar sales figures to Call of Duty, Halo or FIFA.

Recent games released under their most popular properties, such as Castlevania and Silent Hill, have reviewed averagely at best and been bargain-bin shovelware at worst. With that in mind, it's hard to imagine Metal Gear Solid will survive without the unique (and expensive) direction of Hideo Kojima.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will release on September 1st, 2015 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and September 15th on PC.

Source: FraggedNation (32 minute mark)

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • It's just not Metal Gear without Hideo Kajima. PERIOD
  • Who's he? Lol
  • The mastermind behind all of those games and Storys :3
  • For me, it's not Metal Gear without 15 minute diatribes about nuclear war, or what-have-you. :-)
  • Maybe Kojima can finally work on a new IP? As much as I love Metal Gear, I thought 4 was a perfect end to the series. That being said though, cannot wait to play V! I'm sure there are plenty of western studios who would gladly throw money at Kojima to develop a game for them as well!
  • Er no.  Western studios are actually way more capitalistic and cut throat than Japanese publishers, if the publishers get wind of Kojima's lack of business/monetary sense they would never pick him up.  You'll probably get one or two baller VC willing to fund to start a game, but as soon as it's proven that he can't make a product in time while kept burning money they'll drop him like a hot potato and show him the door and either scrap the game or hire a different producer, instead of the Japanese way which is only to give him hints and pressure to get him to get a clue (which Kojima ignored).
  • Yeah...i didn't really think about that lol. Good point indeed.
  • So, perfectionist artist type. Then he really would be better in a company of his own without being responsible to anyone (even his game players). That way he can do anything by his own high standard.
  • He could probably work for Remedy. I don't think those guys even know what a deadline is.
  • Kojima on the next Alan Wake.
    Bring Del Torro too! Awesomeness!!!
  • It sounds like--especially given what is written in the article above--he'll find that, without a huge company bankrolling his work, that he'll find it nearly impossible to create the game he envisions. AAA game development is extremely pricey. You can't go at it alone.
  • So he doesn't care about money, (the way the world should work) and Konami just wants to push games out as fast as they can? I say take your time. Make the games bug free from day one. Then make more sales because of it.
  • Unfortunately the world does work that way.  Unless a game is completely broken and unplayable (eg PC Batman Arkham Knight), minor bugs don't kill sales.  So it's the content that matters.  Sales of MGS has peaked for a long time and it's extremely difficult to justify spending the time and money to create a game with a balooning budget while the sales number itself isn't increasing.  No business can afford a business model like this.  While fanboys likes to hold Hideo to some sort of god status, if he continues this mentality of his he won't be making anymore games because no publisher would want to pick him up.
  • His games are very good and when playing them you can tell they are different from the rest (other guy's games). I haven't been able to play Witcher 3 but the dedicatory was good enough to make me buy it and hopefully it will be up to my expectations. Anyway I know how the world spins and mourn that they weren't able to get everything working for both parts.
  • His games are good but highly over-rated.  My favourite MGS is still the original on the PlayStation, I actually didn't think MGS2 was that bad with Raiden either, 3 started to get tideous but it was by 4 where he's completely lost me with his story-telling as I just don't agree with his view of war and life in general, so it's very hard for me to get into his games as his rants delivered by the in game characters just starts to rub me the wrong way.  By that time I don't think he is really interested in making games anymore either - I think he should do movies, just like he always wanted in the first place.    
  • Great piece Jez. Thanks for the info. Metal Gear has been my favorite game since it arrived on Nintendo in the 80's!
  • It arrived on Microsoft msx first.
  • So? He was on about the NES, not the MSX.
  • Metal Gear is probably my favourite franchise too. It's a harsh reality that Konami need to make money, I kinda feel like they could've done more to earn on the franchise without impeding Kojima. Get a third party to re-release the Gamecube version on new gen consoles, port MGS4, etc. Konami evidently can't make quality console titles without Hideo.
  • It's good that he doesn't want to just bring out unfinished games. Maybe crowd funding would work better for him.
  • "Obsidian famously missed out on a bonus for Fallout: New Vegas for failing to hit 90/100 on Metacritic, they sadly landed 89/100." Metacritic is statistically meaningless. If companies are offering bonus incentives based on non-statistical externalities like this, then, quite frankly, they're idiots and shouldn't have the keys to the coffers. They should take that money and hire a statistician instead, as they clearly need one.
  • Can we expect Phantom Pain to be the last proper Metal Gear title then? Can't see it lasting without Kojima. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • From this it sounds like Konami will be the ones missing out, not Kojima. Games are a work of art enjoyed by millions, you need to have a creator behind those materpieces to make sure the vision is complete and is beyond any other experiences of most games. Kojima will surely go on to make bigger and better projects, which will probably include Metal Gear...maybe. I love Kojima and believe his vision for gaming is the reason the Metal Gear saga has such an amazing story line and characters. 
  • Konami being Konami. Again.
    And thank God for Jim f***ing Sterling-son.
  • Konami will be the losers and rightly so as they have scrubbed off Kojima's production studio name from websites and boxsets, Kojima will make more interesting games in the future and he will easily get the funding if he can pitch for a exclusive to any game platform, nice chance for Microsoft to create a new exclusive IP and keep it for Xbox One and PC.