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)