All is not well in the world of Konami. Recent rumours have suggested that the Japanese veteran could be planning a move out of the home gaming business, and the company's recent treatment of Hideo Kojima - surely its most famous staffer - has raised eyebrows throughout the industry.
However, if a recent report from Japanese business publication Nikkei is to be believed, the situation within Konami is much worse than many previously thought, and could explain why Kojima appears to be leaving the firm without a fight once his work is finished on Metal Gear Solid V.
According to the report, which has been partly translated here, Konami has been shedding development talent in recent years. The creators of famed Konami franchises Momotaro Dentetsu, Tokimeki Memorial, Love Plus and Suikoden have all left following various disagreements. One source quoted in the Nikkei report feels that ever since Konami discovered large profits could be found in the mobile sector with very little investment, the outlook at the company has changed radically. Konami chairman Kagemasa Kozuki apparently started to clamp down on console development around 2010, which he saw as offering diminishing returns in the face of the mobile gaming explosion.
This could explain why Kojima's prolonged development of the latest Metal Gear game - which has taken around five years and, according to Nikkei's sources, has cost Konami around $80 million to make as of April this year - has incurred the wrath of the Konami board of directors.
Elsewhere in the report, working conditions at Konami have been reported as particularly harsh. Email exchanges with people outside of the company are handled via randomised email accounts, and lunchtime breaks are regulated with punch-cards to ensure staff are back at their desks at the allotted time. Those who run over are allegedly outed within the company.
More worrying is the news that employees who are seen as under-performing have been used in other areas of Konami's business empire, such as cleaning its line of leisure and fitness centres or standing in as security guards. This apparently isn't limited to lowly programmers, but has also been the fate of producers and senior development staff.
Another incident reported by Nikkei involves the social network Facebook. One Konami employee posted on his account that he was leaving the firm, and the Konami staff who "Liked" the post were targeted and reassigned within the firm. This apparently impacted individuals quite high up in the Konami management.
The Nikkei report concludes with the observation that Konami is very much a family firm, with the Kozuki clan exerting a lot of control over business proceedings. Founder Kagemasa Kozuki remains chairman, while son Takuya Kozuki is company president. The board of directors includes Kimihiko Higashio, Kozuki's nephew, and Fumiaki Tanaka, Kozuki's son-in-law. Four out of the seven internal directors are family members, leading Nikkei to refer to the set-up as the "Kozuki Empire".
While Konami's involvement with Nintendo formats of late has been slight, the firm rose to prominence off the back of the NES console, which was known as the Famicom in Japan. The platform's success in North America and Japan arguably turned Konami - and many other Japanese developers - into globally recognised businesses, and Konami in particular enjoyed a stream of smash hits on Nintendo's 8-bit console, such as Castlevania, Metal Gear, Gradius, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more besides.
[source togetter.com, via neogaf.com, nikkei.com]
Disgusting. Konami was dying anyway but this will speed things along.
Yikes. If they make employees stand in for cleaners and security guards as punishment, their cleaners and security guards must feel really valued...
@Tsurii I thought I had read a few years ago that IGA had been forced into a menial desk job at the company after Castlevania Judgement bombed.
This doesn't surprise me as much as I thought it would. Konami really has issues. I don't know how the legal system works in Japan, but if this were the UK there'd be law suits flying left right and centre.
I can see Konami seeing a huge downfall as a business with this scathing report.
Have you seen that Castlevania Pachinko machine that they've approved?
It's such appalling fan service that I dare not get the YouTube link for it whilst at work.
I believe it was Treasure employees who already said in an interview long ago that things were pretty harsh over there, even back in the 1990s. And I remember indeed, as was mentioned above, that Koji Igarashi had been forced to take on a crap job within the company after a failure. So it's not exactly new, but it's the first time I believe that a huge publication drags them in the mud like this.
By the way, back in the 80's there was this company called Atari who used to make great video games. One day a new boss came to the company and they decided to abandoned the console gaming industry and all their pre-existing fans in order to focus on the new exciting technology that people where getting into (in that case the home PC industry). But then suddenly console gaming had a resurgence and Atari came crawling back to their old fans, but by that point their old fans had moved on and Atari died a poor lonely death. The moral of the story is: If millions of people all over the world love you for what you do, maybe you should not turn your back on them for some potential short term profit.
Never did like Konami games, those memorial series seem interesting but I don't read Japanese and they usually don't localize after the DS.
Their Castlevania series is quite famous though but I find it redundant. Anyhow, good that they are moving to mobile because mobile gaming sucks.
Hear! Hear! Agreed!
Konami and Sega just simply need to be purchased by Nintendo.
At least working at Konami is still better than North Korea.
If you fail there your whole extended family goes to the gulag.
It won't be long before there is photoshopping of the official company photos at Konami as senior staff get the chop (and fed to the dogs).
The Konami of the NES and arcades is forever gone with Hudson along with it. Doing any amount of curation for their retro catalogue in the future is looking grim and that's too bad
I am not a person who swears often but Konami what the f-!?
Konami are complete jerks! They belong in mobile gaming now money hungry bastards. I hope Kojima moves onto bigger and better things *fingers crossed Silent Hills comeback
Thats sounds like a nice company to work for.
While the punchcard break time thing is the standard around here, putting people into drastically different positions without their consens is strictly illegal.
But i know too little about japanese law to make such a statement about japan itself.
Nevertheless, this is how you destroy a company the most effective way. Just treat your personal like dirt.
Good luck making mobile games without any staff, Konami. Seriously, their staff would likely find better opportunities at other video game companies. No one should have to put up with such poor business ethics!
That's really bad. Not sure how much is truth (there's always two side of every story, objectively speaking), but seeing the company output and continued report of problem with Hideo Kojima team, things must be really harsh over there. I hope things could improve, if not, then I hope the talents over there could form a new company or at least, join a better company.
Okay, this just... ow.
I don't have any words for this.
Considering that this coincides with various claims from former Konami partners and employees, it's difficult for me to see this as a rumour, despite Nikkei seemingly not having any impacting proof at hand.
But it also makes sense when you look at Konami's reactions to failure. Several of their IP's (some with quite legendary status) were shrugged off with a spinoff game before getting shot down completely (Castlevania, Suikoden, Busou Shinki, Boktai, Zone of the Enders, Silent Hill), which reinforces the claim that developers who failed with their game get the boot.
And as many others before said it, this treatment of their own staff is simply despicable. The punchcard thing is no big deal (though the consequences are), but they basically kick their people when they're already down with all other reported measures. Unfortunately, most of these customs don't seem to be illegal in japan - their worker protection is really lacking, which is incredibly careless for a nation with such tight living standards.
Finally the solid evidence we've been searching for.
And people say Nintendo are doomed, heck even Sega are 1000000 times more stable than this company. Jezz Louise. Though things have evidently been wrong for a while now there, it's not just potential staff mistreatment internally either, they genuinely are ruled by idiots who don't know how to business properly. Releasing MGS HD Collection on the same day as Modern Warfare 3, and making it scarce in most regions, as well as releasing 3 Silent Hill games in a month and not giving some of their lesser titles any publicity at all before release. And this was all in 2012, nevermind the recent PT and Kojima disasters. They're just waiting for the inevitable now.
Just another reason for me to not support Konami.
The downside of an ultra-conservative society where complaint, dissension and criticism of the oligarchy are forbidden... Goes some way to explaining the alarmingly high suicide rate. Respect for the hierarchy only works if the respect is two-way.
crashing this company... WITH NO SURVIVORS
So, they might be hiring?
They need to go back to developing SNES games.
@WaveBoy They let those turtles run loose in there? They're covered in Salmonella! No wonder morale is at an all time low!
@Mystemo Sadly, this is what it has come to and agree with you. If you think about it, how many of Konami's fans are on mobile and how many are on handhelds/dedicated consoles? Clearly more on hand/dedicated, yeah? So yes, they are making a lot in mobile now, but a lot of those people are just "oh, this game is a dollar" casual gamers who aren't fans and who don't care about the quality of the game. It just looks good and will past a few mins of their time. They aren't fans. And while I'm not saying all of those mobile buyers aren't fans entirely of the company, the fact is that many of them aren't. And as you pointed out, that's what happen with Atri leaving the gamers for a bigger profit. I understand it's business, but this is why I rarely support these huge companies like EA and now Ko. They don't give a F about the gamer or the quality of the games. They just want a chunning machine that spits games for consumers to buy.
What the heck?! That's pretty uncalled for. I guess Konami really is gonna leave the industry soon.
Metal Gear 5 might be the last Konami game I ever buy if this is true.
checks Google Play
only apps are two sports related, two card related, a Star Wars CCG that will probably be irrelevent once Galaxy of Heroes comes out, a MGS V Ground Zero companion app, Sudoku, and a one-time password app
Someone tell the band to stop playing and get to the life rafts. This ship is going down.
I hope this is a sign of things to come. I hope Konami goes full mobile, and when they realize that mobile audiences don't care about them or their games, they end up dying out. They'll set an example for all the other gaming companies with messed up priorities.
This is even worse than we all thought...
Hopefully that company dies soon and all their IPs get auctioned off and all their game developers find better jobs.
...Yeesh! This is...this is just BAD. Like...really, REALLY bad. No wonder Kojima left...
I stopped liking Konami when they "fired" Team Silent in favor of Western developers, and look how that turned out... Goodbye Konami
Thank you for killing off Castelvania Konami! Thank you! Screw Konami
wow and to think people were saying Nintendo was doomed. Even Capcom didn't get this bad. It amuses me how some critics speak of Nintendo as if they are this great evil that is deserving of every piece of misfortune that comes their way while third parties are these angels who are beyond reproach. Surely stories like this demonstrate that even in Japan the immense and ever growing pressure to have every game that is published and released be a smash hit is taking it's toll on once great publishers and their employees.
I am not the least bit surprised that the rush to high definition and the spiraling costs of developing increasingly grand games to meet the ever increasing expectations and demands of players is having a negative effect on publishers. Perhaps this is why Nintendo didn't go HD in the seventh generation and perhaps this is why Nintendo isn't keen to play the game by microsoft and sony's rules.
Geez, Konami really has it bad.
Wow that's messed up
Sounds like!e a company who has forgotten what made them and where they come from. I hope mobile gaming dies out and people realise just how crappy 95% of the game sreally are in the mobile market. At least with home consoles you don't have a hard time finding quality software. Mobile gaming has gotten better in the past couple years but this free to play spyware type of model might just come back to haunt it one of these days.
I was hoping for another release of PES soccer on 3DS the last one was so good. We probably won't see it.
Konami has been crumbling for a while, but the last year or so has been really painful. I wish they'd either go bankrupt or leave the industry already.
@Windy As long as portable phones exist, I doubt that mobile gaming will ever disappear.
Konami was at the top of their game in the 90's. It's sad what's become of them nowadays.
Quite sad indeed. I'm assuming they'll go mobile only after MGSV. If mobile somehow doesn't work out for them, they'll just stop making games and focus on other things like pachinko machines. I hear they have an erotic violence Castlevania pachinko machine now.
@FragRed I can't help but speculate that this "Business Practice," might be somewhat cultural. Don't want to sound racist. Does anyone know??
@TomKnows That's hard to say. Konami is the only video game related company that we've heard of this type of thing from. If these types of practices commonly exist in Japanese companies that aren't gaming related, then the gaming industry is just lucky. Either that, or we just aren't aware of it in other companies. We only know that these practices don't exist inside Nintendo.
It's my fault for buying that Castlevania Puzzle Encore of the Night.
Reminder that they disbanded TEAM SILENT and had key members reallocated to working on mobile games for teenage girls 10 years ago. I hope this company rots.
It's too bad that Konami is in no danger of going out of business because if it's fitness centers and gambling.
I feel bad for the people who had to endure unfair treatment at Konami. It's obvious Konami has lost their way on how they became successful in the first place. It's no wonder they're losing key people because of their incompetence.
Another step towards Konami's demise.
Don't buy MGS5!!! It will just support this evil company!!!
@DinoFett I don't know about Konami but yeah I agree that SEGA needs Nintendo.
@goonow And I thought Walt Disney was the most evil of them all.......
I always felt the Metal Gear Solid franchise was overrated. Also, Konami hasn't done jack with their classic franchises either. I thought now that Nintendo had the DS on wii u vc that we would see the DS castlevania games?? I guess not...and if there was ever the slightest chance of seeing those turbographx 16 games on wii u vc you can probably forget that too!!! I hope they get murdered in the mobile market!!!😡😡
On the employment end of things, maybe while their programmers are standing in as security guards and porters, perhaps their security guards and porters are being plugged in to do some programming?? Any moron can make a crappy mobile game!! 😃😃😃
Konami must of tried to make Kojima as well as other developers that made games like Otomedius into janitors.
Doesn't matter if you are big corporation or small business... Treat your employees poorly and it will be evident in your final product (usually soulless and everything "tastes the same").
That is outright terrible. How can you be so totally fine with treating your employees that way? I've never really had much of a history with Konami's games, but reading this makes me want to ensure I don't support 'em. I hope things manage to work out for the employees.
There doesn't come much positive news out of the Japanese game-company's recently, doesn't it (management-wise)? First Nintendo with the Project Hammer debacle, and now this. Though I guess there are also many evil things happening at western company's. Maybe someone should investigate that?
"One source quoted in the Nikkei report feels that ever since Konami discovered large profits could be found in the mobile sector with very little investment, the outlook at the company has changed radically"
Same will happen with Nintendo.
Konami's doing things the American way.........
Yikes! Are there any 3rd party Japanese developers left other than Bandai Namco and Sega that remain both popular and successful these days?
@skylangford That reminds me of a Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns outscourced the labor force for the nuclear power plant to India with only Homer left on the payroll as their American manager (naturally, he had to move his family to India for the job). However, once Homer gave all his Indian employees standard American benefits packages, Mr. Burns could no longer save any money that way, so he fired them all (Yay, we get severance pay!) and moved operations back to Springfield.
"My toes! My toes!"
Lord...rot in hell Konami, a hell of a company back in the late 80's and through the 90's reduced to this??? Quite deplorable...I urge all who plan to buy MGSV to wait until it's less than $5, that is how you really screw Konami.
I remember the good ol days when Konami was amazing. Those were some good days.
Nintendo needs to buy Castlevania. Seriously, Castlevania and Contra and Pro Evolution Socccer must be saved and would fit is really well with current Nintendo IP.
Just buy those 3 IPs and Konami can go to hell for all I care.
Not buying a Konami game in the foreseeable future, unless they apologize!
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