There are some strange things going on between Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima and publisher Konami.
While the two groups have worked closely over the years - mainly on Metal Gear games - rumors are now signaling a potential end to the relationship. Strange rebranding efforts by the publisher with Kojima's brand along with Kojima being left off of a major press release recently have sent the Internet into a frenzy of speculation.
According to reports this morning, famed developer Hideo Kojima left his role with Konami after the publisher recently posted a new executive list to their corporate website that no longer lists him as Executive Content Officer. The new positions are slated to take effect on April 1, 2015 but it's also worth noting that Konami’s 2015 fiscal year ends on March 31. However, this newly released executive list is just the tip of the iceberg.
These rumors escalated after Konami started removing Kojima's name as a brand for many of their released and upcoming products. One example of this can be seen on the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain splash page, as "A Hideo Kojima game" has been removed entirely where it was once clearly visible back in February. This phrase has also been removed from both the Metal Gear Legacy Collection and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes pages, as well on the Konami website.
Further evidence of Kojima parting ways with Konami comes as the Kojima Productions twitter account "Kojima Pro Live" has rebranded itself into Metal Gear Official. The rebranding effort continues in a broader sense, with Kojima's Los Angeles studio changing its name from Kojima Productions to a more straightforward Konami Los Angeles Studio.
Kojima saying he's all done with the Metal Gear franchise isn't unexpected - this is something we've typically heard after each big game release since Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - but the fact that he's rumored to be leaving Konami adds a new wrinkle here. Based on the sudden change to many aspects involving Kojima's brand, it's almost like Konami is trying to distance itself from the prolific developer. It'll also be interesting to see how his rumored departure will affect other projects he's involved with, such as the new Silent Hills game being developed with director Guillermo del Toro.
A potential move like this isn't unheard of, though, as some other notable developers left their high profile positions to start their own studio. People like former Head of R&D at Capcom, Keiji Inafune, former design director at Epic Games, Cliff Bleszinski, and even Peter Molyneux, who left Lionhead Studios to form 22 Cans, have all made big moves in the past. With all of the rebranding efforts Konami has recently undertaken, perhaps Kojima is looking to continue to use his own personal Kojima Productions label going forward.
[UPDATE: A new report from Gamespot claims that Kojima and Konami are parting ways after Metal Gear Solid 5 is done.]
If Kojima really is done at Konami, what would you like to see him do as an independent developer? Let us know below in the comments.