Silent Hills? Gone. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain? Still going forward, but with series creator Hideo Kojima in a reduced role. Castlevania? Healthy enough – the last entry in the series, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, came out last year to mixed reviews – but progressing without the oversight of Koji Igarashi, who left the franchise in 2014, only to create a spiritual successor called Bloodstained as an independent developer.
In short, big changes are afoot at Konami, and it looks like the rejiggering of key franchises is only the beginning. In an interview with Nikkei Trendy, a popular Japanese lifestyle magazine, Konami CEO Hideki Hayakawa said that the company has a new mission: no, Konami isn’t giving up video games, but in the future the renowned publisher will be focus almost exclusively on mobile titles.
Hayawaka doesn’t mince words, either. “Our main platform will be mobiles,” he says. “Mobile is where the future of gaming lies…. Mobiles will take on the new role of linking the general public to the gaming world.”
Konami’s shift in priorities is due to the effect of two games: Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū, the company’s annual baseball title, and Pro Evolution Soccer (known in Japan as Winning 11), Konami’s extremely popular soccer simulator. According to Hayawaka, the microtransaction model implemented in both of these games – especially the mobile edition of Power Pros – is incredibly lucrative, even among “people who buy physical games.” As a result, that’s the revenue model that Konami will pursue in the future.
Hayawaka also says, “Our games must move from selling things like ‘items’ to selling things like ‘features,'” implying that Konami plans to hide significant portions of its upcoming games behind paywalls.
This doesn’t mean the end of Konami’s traditional, console-based franchises, of course. There’s still a lot of value in those brands – they’ll just be coming to phones, not dedicated gaming devices. Hayawaka explains, “We hope that our overseas games such as MGS V and Winning Eleven continue to do well, but we are always thinking about how to push our franchises onto mobile there too.”
Konami has been at the center of a lot of controversy lately, particularly regarding Hideo Kojima’s departure from the company, and this news isn’t likely to ease fans’ concerns that the publisher has lost its way. On the other hand, at one point the Power Pros title that Hayawaka mentioned was bringing in hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars a day. For that amount of money, Hayawaka can probably afford to alienate a few of Konami’s more hardcore fans.