Are Fans Ready To Forgive Konami As It Makes A Potential Return To Gaming?

It could take a lot for fans to consider that.

Story Highlights

  • Konami is responsible for some of the most iconic IPs, like Metal Gear, Castlevania, Silent Hills, etc., but its glory has diminished over the past few years.
  • Ever since it ventured into things outside of gaming, fans have not only been disappointed but have also developed hatred towards the giant company.
  • Turning some of its popular games into pachinko machines has blemished their respective IPs. Of course, the split with Hideo Kojima also made many fans reevaluate their thoughts about this new Konami.
  • Now, with recent rumblings of Konami’s potential return to gaming with some Silent Hill projects and Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, are fans ready to accept Konami despite the differences in the past?

If you are a middle-aged gamer, chances are you were present during Konami’s golden period in the gaming industry. It started great with games like Frogger, Contra, Meta Gear, and Castlevania, which developed to become some of the most popular IPs we know today. However, Konami has barely made any notable games over the past decade or so, leaving some of its classic games to rust.

Konami Classic Games Collections
Konami Classic Games Collections.

For people who have only started gaming within the past decade, the name Konami may not have as much impact as it would for other veterans. The company has only brought titles that fans consider “lazy” and a “money-grab” and barely expanded on its massive catalogue. Contra: Rogue Corps was among its last proper games, and even that wasn’t received well by the community.

Konami’s Descent Into The Pachinko Business

For those of you who don’t know, pachinko machines are Japanese arcade games that are more frequently used for gambling. Although Japan prohibits gambling, pachinko machines are a big part of the culture and an exception to this law. These slot machines are also called pachislots and resemble vertical pinball machines, which are much different from the ones we find in Western countries.  

Konami does many things, and I mean many; it could take me a long time just to list down the side stuff. So, while it is popular in the West mainly for its games, Konami is regarded as a giant corporation in Japan. And as with any corporation, profits and big numbers would change your priorities. Like it did in this situation, Konami ventured into the pachinko business and saw massive profits.

In a 2016 financial report, it was noted that Konami’s profits had increased by a whopping 230%, with pachinko likely being one of the top contributors to this. You see, the company had merged its Arcade business with the pachinko business, and so it became hard to tell just how much the slot machine business bloomed. As such, the Japanese corporation went deeper into the “gambling” rabbit hole and left its games to the sidelines.

Konami 2016-2017 Financial Report
Konami 2016-2017 Financial Report.

Even so, it might surprise many people that Konami has somehow profited well from some of its games over the past few years. Granted, you probably haven’t heard of these games, as they are either under-the-radar or are exclusive to Japan. Its financial report (April 2021-March 2022) stated that the company’s operating profit was a staggering $577 million at the time, with the net profit being $425 million.

Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel is one of their under-the-radar games, as many Western fans haven’t played it. Yet it gathered over 30 million players and was expected to perform better in the coming years. Another big hit from Konami was Momotaro Dentetsu, a Japan-exclusive Switch title that sold over 3.5 million copies. While these numbers contributed to their profit that year, they didn’t compare to the pachinko profits.

Konami 2021-2022 Financial Report
Konami 2021-2022 Financial Report.

Over the past decade, Konami has turned many of its notable IPs into pachinko machines to attract a wider audience in Japan and earn more money. Among these games, we have Contra, Rumble Roses, Beatmania, Gradius, Parodious, Mahjong Fight Club, Twinbee, etc., But things turned for the worse when Konami did the same with other games popular in the West.

The Public Execution Of Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, And Silent Hill

Perhaps the most popular series in the West that turned into pachislot is Metal Gear, which did not sit well with the fans. Right after the company’s shift outside of gaming, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was turned into a pachinko machine in 2016. MGS fans were already writhing in pain with the incomplete story of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, so the pachislot was a punch in the guts.

It may have been fine if the MGS pachislot was for a small title from the series, but that wasn’t the case. One of the most popular iterations in the series, with the most memorable set pieces and cutscenes, received a soft HD remake just for it to be used in the Japan-exclusive slot machines. This was the turning point for the few Konami fans who had some hopes for the company.  

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Konami’s history with Silent Hill fans has not been pretty either, and the biggest reason for that was the cancellation of Silent Hills at the height of its production. At that time, Hideo Kojima had a joint project with the legendary movie director Guillermo Del Toro. Like MGS, Silent Hill 2 was turned into a pachislot, and although it wasn’t as significant as MGS, it was still enough to diminish the company’s reputation in fans’ eyes.

Castlevania was another huge IP that fell victim to the company’s greed. Konami reprised the events of the first Castlevania game into a pachinko machine in 2009 and later did the same to Castlevania 2 & 3 in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Just like MGS 3, the vampirish titles were retold with revised cutscenes in the slot machines, and fans did not like that one bit.

Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater.

Most of these pachinko machines were made during the 2010s, which could also be considered the lowest period of Konami. Now, with the announcement of Silent Hill projects and MGS Delta: Snake Eater, this decade might mark Konami’s return to the gaming industry. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that in the 2010s, Konami lost many of its Western fans, and it didn’t seem to care enough. 

The Split Between Konami And Kojima

If blemishing its popular IPs wasn’t enough for the company, the split with Hideo Kojima and the closing down of MGS developers Kojima Productions placed Konami under severe backlash. Hideo Kojima, who for many was the sole reason behind the massive success of the Metal Gear franchise, was cast aside after some disagreement between him and the company.

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If it were a normal developer, that situation could have cost them their career, but you and I both know that Hideo Kojima is built differently. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call him one of the greatest video game developers ever. So, why would Konami let go of someone so talented? Because the Japanese publisher did not like that Kojima was spending so much on making games.

Although neither side has ever commented on the wrangle, there is enough evidence for us to piece together. Kojima joined the company in 1986, and at that time, Super Mario Bros. had inspired him to become a video game developer. One of his first titles, Lost Warld, was cancelled in the early production phase. Kojima was then offered to work on Metal Gear by a co-worker, and the rest is history.

Hideo Kojima
Hideo Kojima.

It’s time for some history lessons; Hideo Kojima invented the stealth genre in gaming. You see, MSX was not a powerful device and could only allow a few enemies on screen at a time. Kojima’s attempt to overcome that shortcoming resulted in a game that has since inspired countless titles, marking the beginning of stealth gaming.

Since then, his work has been highly praised, and by 2014, he became Konami’s executive content officer. He had a say in Japanese company’s every game. In the same year, P.T., widely known as “playable teaser,” was released on the PlayStation store, and it teased the Silent Hill reboot. It was co-directed by Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, so you know why everyone would be hyped for such a title. Sadly, we know how it went.

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Going back to the 2010s, Konami started showing what many consider its “true colours.” It started dwelling into the territory of making cheap games, like Dragon Collection, which was a huge sensation back then and cost little to nothing but attracted millions of players, resulting in easy profit. Konami decided that it would be better to abandon AAA games it had built its reputation upon and make low-cost mobile titles to earn more bucks.

Kojima Productions, led by Hideo Kojima, became a hindrance for Konami, resulting in complicated behind-the-scenes restructuring, eventually resulting in him leaving Konami after making his last title, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The whole situation cost Konami a lot of fans, as this halted the future of IPs with so much potential that it could only be brought forward by none other than Hideo Kojima.

The nail in the coffin was when Konami removed the Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions from the credits of Metal Gear games, especially the MGS 5 website, which was his last project at the company. Konami did everything possible to remove all traces of Kojima and his team from the titles. Even the US-based studio, Kojima Productions Los Angeles, was changed to Konami Productions Los Angeles Studio.

Ultimately, Fans Are Not Happy With Konami

Konami’s continued bad decision-making cost them a lot of fans, and the company’s lack of acknowledgment in many situations made it clear that it never cared about its community. Now, with the rumblings of some Silent Hill projects and MGS Delta: Snake Eater, it seems like the Japanese publisher is finally returning to making some quality games.

But seeing how much damage has already been done, accepting Konami would be a monumental task for fans. Even then, it is nigh impossible for the company to relish the reputation it once held in the gaming sphere. Just as it took decades to build the name, Konami would need to spend a similar amount of time to rebuild itself. In any case, Konami owns those IPs, and their return could be good to revive them once again.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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