Video game publisher Konami has broken their silence regarding the July 2019 PlayStation Plus lineup shakeup. When the July 2019 PlayStation Plus games were announced, fans were disappointed. Then, without warning, Sony stepped in, swapping out Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 for Quantic Dream's melodramatic sci-fi drama Detroit: Become Human. Now, Konami is speaking out regarding their role - or lack thereof - in the surprise change.
By all accounts, Pro Evolution Soccer is a fine game. It delivers a satisfying soccer experience for fans of the sport, while capitalizing on the FOX Engine's signature brand of photo realism to offer a fantastic presentation. Still, when it was announced to be one half of Sony's PlayStation Plus lineup of free-with-subscription games this month, fans were disappointed at best, and outraged at worst (though overwrought outrage on the internet is certainly not in short supply these days).
Even though fans were upset by July 2019's selection of free games, few actually expected Sony to do anything about it, much less remove the offending title and replace it with one of 2018's most high-profile PlayStation exclusives. Now, Konami and Sony have both addressed the change, though both companies offer little explanation as to why the change took place, leaving gamers to speculate as to the true reason for Pro Evolution Soccer getting the axe and Detroit: Become Human joining the PS Plus club. In a statement made to GameSpot, a Konami representative played it short and sweet, saying the decision was made by Sony. Meanwhile, Sony simply confirmed that they had, indeed, made the decision, but stopped short of explaining why. It's not much, but at least the company is acknowledging the change, if not the reason behind it.
Perhaps the reason Sony doesn't want to comment further is because they don't want to be seen as capitulating to understandably angry gamers. Or maybe it's to avoid Konami, who have become something of a joke in the industry as of late. After the infamous Metal Gear Solid V debacle, in which they fired Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima, the studio hasn't released a single big-budget title with wide appeal among core players. Instead, they've focused on Japanese slot machines and the terribly ill-advised spinoff Metal Gear Survive, which is unanimously considered the nadir of the once venerated series. This may be bordering on conspiracy theory territory, but Hideo Kojima is now working with Sony on the PlayStation-exclusive Death Stranding. Is it possible the legendary auteur has enough pull within the company to shoot down a game like Pro Evolution Soccer, which was built using the FOX Engine technology originally developed for Metal Gear Solid V?
For their part, Konami has earned back a small degree of good will with the release of multiple classic collections, compiling old arcade titles, as well as entries from the Castlevania and Contra franchises. Which raises the question, why didn't they offer one of those for PlayStation Plus, instead of a soccer game? Sports titles are infamous for plummeting in value just a few months after their release; as annualized series, they become ostensibly obsolete when the next title comes out, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 is due out this September. Getting Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 now is like getting last week's leftovers for tonight's dinner, as far as sports fans are concerned.
Whatever the case may be, the core takeaway from the Konami/Sony/PlayStation Plus saga is that fans were terribly disappointed in the initial July offerings, and then Sony changed them for the better. We may never officially learn whether or not the two events are connected, but the writing on the wall paints a pretty clear picture.