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Ever since the cancellation of P.T. and the letting go of Hideo Kojima, Konami has been a dirty word for gamers and the gaming world, as their actions have seemed to move the company toward a mobile gaming platform, and away from its famous IPs such as Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania. Well, it’s not just gamers that have seemingly gotten the shaft from Konami, as a report by Nikkei, a financial magazine from Japan, has more information on the working conditions and some of the more specific details on how it is to work within the walls of the once famous company. This comes off the heels of a report done by Super BunnyHop (whose video was hit with a copyright strike after release) regarding some of the weird behaviors that Konami is putting into place into it’s new brand and business strategy. A special thanks to Thomas James for translating the information here from the magazine.

Since Konami unofficially let go of Kojima, it's been a rocky PR campaign for the once great company.

Since Konami allegedly let go of Kojima, it’s been a rocky PR campaign for the once great company.

Let’s start with Kojima and Kojima Productions. For Kojima specifically, it was allegedly indicated that he fell from grace for the company due to the delay to Metal Gear Solid V. Nikkai indicates that the team was rebranded as “Number 8 Production Department”, taking the famous name off the proud team that has created great works of the past.  For their specific work areas, the computers are not connected to the internet and only have local messaging access, meaning any connections to the outside world are gone, with resources such as the Internet not available to the talented team in question.

And the employees are facing what seems to be horrible conditions. Most regular employees do not have email addresses, with the exception of the PR and Sales Departments (for obvious reasons there). Everyone else gets an address randomized and changed every few months, which are typically a few letters followed by a string of numbers. Kotaku asked a Konami employee about the practice, and it was indicated that was done to prevent headhunting of those in the company. Employees are regularly monitored with camera that aren’t there for security, but rather to monitor their movements, in some weird cross of 1984 and Minority Report. Their lunch time isn’t sacred either. While you may see the practice in the United States in punching in and out for lunch like Konami has introduced, what is more problematic is the fact that those who have lunch for too long have their names shamed throughout the company in a public list.

And don’t get on the higher ups bad side, or you may get reassigned to other jobs, such as cleaning staff at the company’s fitness clubs, or working at the pachi-slot machine factory. Yes, despite being classically trained in software, art, or anything of the like, it doesn’t matter if you are looked as expendable by those above you. It wasn’t just the little guys that were hit by this practice in the company, as bigger producers and other prominent creators had these new jobs forced on them. A famous incident regarding a Konami staffer who went from game development to working in the aforementioned factory caused the man severe depression due to the switch. And even those who were able to get out of the company ended up causing those employees who congratulated them with likes on Facebook problems, as those staff that liked the post in question apparently had their positions “reshuffled” within the company.

One of the major cited reasons for some of the shift in culture is the success of a mobile title called Dragon Collection, which was a smash hit in the Japanese market. It was a social game for phones, and had a low cost of development while a high profit return. Now note, there has been a huge boom in the mobile market in Japan overall beyond just Konami, but this specific game was cited by a specific employee within Konami. This caused a shift in the market strategy for Konami, moving them from more hardcore titles of the past and more towards social titles. It didn’t help that reports of Metal Gear Solid 5’s development costs seemed to pass 80 million dollars, which seems to help justify the move toward mobile gaming. Bigger name talent such as the creator of Love Plus and Kojima have left the company over the last several years, and morale has been indicated as an all time low for the company.

Franchises of Konami are now being licensed to other companies.

Franchises of Konami are now being licensed to other companies.

In addition, popular games of the company have also been licensed out, with the recent licensing of Hudson Soft product Momotaro Dentetsu being licensed out to Nintendo for licensing fees. But what’s more interesting is the fact that it was jettisoned due to disagreements over revenue split with the creator of the franchise, and the deal with Nintendo happened without warning. Development of games with cult followings such as Tokimeki Memori and Suikoden have been halted as well, although they might not have been in active development at the time (basically, it’s extra dead.)

Even within the industry, it looks like other companies with Japan are not liking what Konami is doing. It’s being indicated that Nintendo and Sega are now very distant with Konami. In the past these two famous companies would help each other and Konami out of jams, but that does not seem to be the case anymore.It appears in large part this is due to the fact that Kagemasa Kozuki, the founder and chairman of Konami, has grown even more reclusive in recent times – a practice for which he was already noted for among both the media and his peers. There are accusations laid against Kagemasa on not being willing to increase the budget for console games with diminishing returns. Nikkai reached out to the chairman repeatedly for comment, but did not get any information or response from him.

It looks like the landscape of the giant in the gaming world is changing, but not necessarily for the better.

Does this change your view on Konami in the slightest, and do you think the company, despite indicating it still wants to listen to fans, is attempting to get out of the console market entirely? Do you think that this information coming to light in the Japanese culture will change anything about the working conditions there? Leave your comments below!

 

 

 


Shaun Joy

Staff Writer

YouTuber Dragnix who plays way too many games, and has a degree in Software Engineering. A Focus on disclosure on Youtubers, and gaming coverage in general.



  • Haze

    so Konami is going insane?
    it sounds too unreal to be true but maybe it’s really happening, and the top of Konami has lost it
    someone should send the authorities there, just to make sure they don’t have any developer chained in a basement or something

  • CRnuts

    I don’t dislike Konami for wanting to get out of the console gaming business, it isn’t entirely unheard of for businesses to change focus when they believe there are better opportunities elsewhere.

    What pisses me off, and I think it is true of most other gamers as well as how Konami handled all this. They don’t seem to give a damn at all about all the people that made Konami great such as the big name talent like Kojima and they seem to be shitting all over the employees in these studios. It also appears to me that they are trying to sabotage some of their own IPs that are loved by many all around the world.

  • BurntToShreds

    I strongly agree. They could have handled this with a lot more grace and tact. They could have come clean on day one and said “Kojima’s a massive perfectionist and is costing us millions with his projects, we are going to release Phantom Pain and cancel P.T. We have plenty of other businesses in Japan to keep us afloat aside from big-name videogames.” And they could have left P.T. on PSN for everyone to enjoy and be done with it.

  • Reptile

    Looks like Konami has gone full Volgin. Never go full Volgin.

  • Kev Lew

    I think jim sterling says it best “fuck konami”. they have the IP but they do not have the integrity or stamina for games development any more.

  • Kev Lew

    the removal of existing titles for no reason is the biggest problem of what they did to the consumers but what they are doing to employees is deplorable.