The numbers behind Konami’s video game disaster, and why Konami doesn’t care
Konami. That’s the set-up and the punchline of a joke that’s been told over the past few weeks, and it’s still funny.
Konami cancelled Silent Hills, won’t officially confirm if Hideo Kojima left the company, delisted P.T. (the once-secret Silent Hills playable trailer) from the PSN Store (and, in an incredibly rare and bizarre twist, made it impossible to re-download even if you added it to your library previously), and is now running headlong into a mobile games focus. On top of all that, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain isn’t out yet.
We’ve been spending weeks watch a company seemingly implode, and they’re still going to put out one of the biggest games of the year soon. This is what happens when a company doesn’t care about making video games anymore, and it’s fascinating to watch. It’s also not hyperbolic in any way. Konami seems to be bowing out of the console video game industry, and it’s so thoroughly intent on doing so that it’s burning every fan-built bridge it has accumulated since the ’80s in the process. And Konami is going to be perfectly fine through it all.
You might not realize this if you live in North America, but Konami isn’t a video game company. That’s just one of its faces, and it’s the only face the West has been shown. Konami is a major conglomerate that deals with slot machines, health clubs, real estate, and toys.
Konami’s digital entertainment division has generally been its biggest moneymaker, but according to Konami’s financial numbers, that’s changing quickly. In the last six years, sales from Konami’s digital entertainment division, which covers all of its video games, has dropped by nearly half. Meanwhile, sales from Konami’s gaming division, which (perplexingly) covers all of its gambling products like slot machines, has nearly doubled in that time.
It’s an even worse trend when you look at profit. Profits from digital entertainment has dropped to a quarter of what it was in 2009, and profits from the gaming (again: gambling, not video games) division has more than doubled. Digital entertainment still makes more than gaming, but that will likely change by next year.
The money Konami is making from video games is dropping every year, and slot machines are more popular than ever. Since Konami isn’t just a video game company, it makes sense that it wants to just leave a field and focus on ones that pay off better.
Of course, our only exposure to Konami in the West (unless you look at any of the electronic slot machines in Vegas, Reno, or Atlantic City) is video games. It’s the company that made Castlevania, Contra, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Dance Dance Revolution, and many more. It’s become synonymous with metroidvanias, psychological horror, tactical espionage action, and rhythm games. Now, it’s abandoning all of that, unless you’re excited about mobile games and pachislots and slot machines. That are mostly about soccer.
If this bums you out, consider Konami’s graceless running from console video games to be the final nail in its save point coffin. Contra? We haven’t heard much of it since Wayforward made Contra 4 on the DS. Castlevania? The post-reboot games made a worse mess of the series than Konami simply not making games anymore ever could. Silent Hill? Mediocre to terrible sequels capped off by a completely broken HD collection and the ugliest anti-hype cancellation of a promising title I’ve ever seen
Fortunately, while the publisher has decided to no longer publish, developers will keep developing. Castlevania revolutionizer Koji Igarashi has just launched a Kickstarter for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which is so shameless of a Symphony of the Night successor that the pitch video has him throwing a wine glass. Kojima’s going to keep being Kojima. We haven’t heard anything of Contra in a while, but there are tons of great indie shooters being put out on all systems. And while Guillermo del Toro, who was supposed to work with Kojima on Silent Hills, has once again been dropped from a video game project, there’s nothing stopping those two from making their own horror game collaboration that isn’t a Silent Hill-branded game. There’s still hope, if you’re not hung up on the franchise names. Except for anything by Hudson Soft. Adventure Island, Bonk, and Bloody Roar are sadly and hilariously dead. So is Bomberman, unless you want to consider a franchise as “living on” with smartphone games.
The really weird thing about this is that it shows how easily a company with its fingers in many pots can simply shrug and leave video games. It’s unceremonious from our end, but it’s just a business decision to a corporation. It’s a good thing PlayStation is such a cash cow for Sony, otherwise it could just as easily give up on video games and deprive us of beloved characters like, uh, Kratos? And Killzone gas mask guy? Ooh, does Crash Bandicoot still count? Does Sony remember it at all? Nah, they’re actually doing just fine.
Source: Games – Geek.com