In a few short days, the long-awaited (final?) entry in the Metal Gear Solid series hits stores.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is, of course, the latest in Hideo Kojima’s (and yes, Konami’s) long running Tactical Espionage Action series. It’s already a hit with reviewers; IGN’s Vince Ingenito gave it a perfect 10 out of 10, and Kotaku’s Jason Schreier seems to love it. And that’s just two examples. By all accounts, this is going to be an amazing game, and a proper send off to this series I love so much.
I myself am a huge Metal Gear fan. I’ve played every game countless times, and then I bought the HD collections and played them again. I love this series; it’s my second favorite video game series ever (right behind The Legend of Zelda — I’m rather fond of Zelda). So I really can’t wait for The Phantom Pain.
But I might have to.
I find myself torn between desperately wanting this game and not wanting to support Konami, a once-great video game developer that’s since become…I don’t know what they’ve become. Are they a pachinko manufacturer? A gym? Help me out. See, Konami, in the course of less than a year, has gone from a well-known game developer, to a weird circus sideshow, to an unmitigated disaster.
And this goes far beyond the simple cancellation of games (oh, Silent Hills, what you might have been). And it also goes beyond their shoddy treatment of Hideo Kojima, a man whose games are largely responsible for Konami even staying relevant lo these many years. Think about it: Silent Hill’s last entry was Book of Memories for the Vita, a game that is reportedly so bad, it’s the sole reason my Silent Hill collection will never be complete. The newest one, Silent Hills, was to be co-developed by Guillermo del Toro and…Hideo Kojima. Or what about Castlevania, a series that, basically (I’m a fan, but I can admit this) was dead, at least on consoles. ‘Vania took off on handhelds, sure, with an excellent trifecta of DS titles, but it could never really crack the big-budget 3D action-adventure console thing. Enter…Hideo Kojima, again, with Lords of Shadow, which I, for one, thought was fantastic. How much work Kojima did on the title is irrelevant when you consider how Konami plastered his name all over the game. So, he was, at the very least, of use. Right?
The European box art has Kojima Productions’ logo over MercurySteam’s, a.k.a. the people who did all the work.
Without Kojima, Konami produced such *ahem* gems like NeverDead and Saw: The Video Game, two things I’m pretty sure nobody even owns. Despite this, they cast Kojima aside and remove his name from MGSV, the last in a series that we all associate Konami with.
Like I said, this goes past Kojima. He’ll be fine; he’s a big dog in game development. We’ve not seen the last of him.
It’s how Konami treats everyone else. Not you, gamers, but their own employees. The ones who don’t have names like Hideo Kojima. The rank-and-file. The hundreds or thousands of people who make your favorite games possible. See, video games are not a one-person thing — just like a film production, it takes hundreds of people to create a game. Play any Metal Gear Solid. Count the names in the credits. You won’t actually do that, because you aren’t insane and nobody likes counting three-or-four hundred names.
Games are a massive undertaking by a lot of people, and the vast majority of those people work long hours for crummy pay, likely hoping they, one day, can be the next Hideo Kojima. It’s hard work, and it’s almost universally thankless (how often do you hammer the SKIP button during end credits sequences? I sure as hell do, and so do you). These are all things we know, or at the very least, we should know and understand how game development really works. And sure, you can say, “Oh, it’s not just Konami,” and you’ll read off your checklist of game companies you hate. It goes something like, “blah blah EA blah blah Activision blah blah UbiSoft.” I’ve heard it all before.
In this article, Ashcraft cites sources close to Konami who detail just how bad working for this company is. It’s tough reading, but…you have to read it.
Read that one as well. I mean, really read it. Don’t just skim through it. Sit down, take a deep breath, and absorb it.
Someday, MGSV. Just not September 1st.
The difference between Konami and the rest of those companies? Well, Konami seems to be run less like a game company, and more like a base one would infiltrate in their own Metal Gear Solid. But, in all seriousness, if even half this shit is true, you should be as disgusted as I am.
I read those articles back when they were first published. I shook my head. While composing this article, I read them again, carefully, and now I feel physically sick. Here, from the second link: “…Konami game developers who aren’t seen as useful are reassigned to jobs as security guards, cleaning staff at the company’s fitness clubs or roles at a pachi-slot machine factory. This includes not just junior staff, but producers who have worked on well-known game titles. In 2013, Asahi News, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, ran an interview with a former Konami staffer who allegedly went from game development to working in Konami’s pachi-slot factory, causing him to experience severe depression.”
Imagine you were demoted that far in your career. It would send my depression into overdrive, too. That would be like me going from writing opinion pieces like this to covering Game of War. Could you imagine going from game development to janitorial staff? And then there’s stuff like in the first link: “There is also a team within Konami called the Monitoring Group (モニタリング課). The team sit in a room that’s filled with monitors showing the internal CCTV feeds from cameras located within Konami. There are cameras in the company’s rooms, corridors and data centers. The Internal Audit Office has access to all this information for employee monitoring.”
Think about how you’re treated at your job, and ask yourself if it’s ever that bad. I complain about past jobs I’ve had, but I was never mistreated on a level anywhere near Konami’s. I’m willing to bet you, reader, never worked under conditions like this. If you have, and you feel like hitting the comments section, go ahead.
A company that treats it’s staff like prisoners — even like criminals — is not a company I want to support any longer. It’s disgusting. That’s why I’ll wait for a used Metal Gear Solid V. Honestly, this will be the first time I’ve bought a used game solely because I was against the company that created it. And no, I’m not sure I can justify owning it even then. I don’t have all the answers. Like I said, I’m torn. I’m so looking forward to the game…you have no idea. Or maybe you do. But I’m at a point where I can wait for it.
Should you buy it new? That’s up you you, really. I’m not telling you what to do. Just know and understand — really understand — what Konami is doing to its own. It’s not just Kojima, either. And see, that’s why it’s a conundrum, isn’t it? I’d like to support Konami’s “ground-level” employees, while at the same time, I don’t want to support a company with policies that border on human rights violations. Simultaneously, I’d like very much to play Metal Gear Solid V.
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, there aren’t any. All I know is, I’m waiting for a used copy.
This post originally appeared on Current Digital, where I, Brian White, am an editor and haver of opinions. You can read stuff by me (like my previous opinion piece) and read articles by an amazing staff of writers. Follow me on Twitter @WingZero351