The messy break-up between Hideo Kojima and Konami closed another chapter, as California-based development studio Kojima Productions Los Angeles closed its doors. The closure of the studio was confirmed in an email statement released on November 3rd, months after hints that something was wrong within the studio began to surface.
According to Konami, the closure comes after a restructuring of the company, to focus on "a more centralized unit." More noticeably, it also comes after the studio's efforts to scrub Kojima and his company's name and branding from not only the Metal Gear website, but also any games he was involved with, and finally pulling him from his executive position within the company. Even the box art for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain wasn’t safe.
Established in 2013, Konami/Kojima Productions Los Angeles was the first international studio opened by the original Kojima Productions, which is located in Tokyo. The studio was intended to demonstrate "Konami and Kojima Productions' commitment to expanding [their] development footprint" and "put Kojima Productions in the heart of the west which will benefit future releases as it will introduce new talent and creativity to the development teams."
The studio was rebranded Konami Los Angeles Studio earlier this year, adding fuel to the fire that things were going south with Konami and Kojima. To make matters worse, clashing information has caused more confusion among fans, as Kojima reportedly had a farewell party on October 9th, marking what should have been the end of a nearly 30-year career with Konami. Yet, Konami is vehemently denying the claim that he's even left, saying Kojima is merely "on vacation."
Despite the Metal Gear franchise being Kojima’s brainchild and Kojima himself stating that this will be the final title in the series, Konami has announced they're not done with Metal Gear. What exactly this means in up for debate, as recent reports have claimed the studio does not currently have any upcoming AAA titles on the docket -- a report Konami has refuted. Nevertheless, the studio's future as a AAA game developer is in now in question, and fans of their franchises are left wondering what exactly is going on behind closed doors.
The Los Angeles closure adds to the confusing and disappointing year Konami is experiencing. The cancellation of the hotly-anticipated Silent Hills, followed by the takedown of the incredible P.T. demo from the PlayStation store have put the studio in a negative light. A light that shines even brighter, considering Konami's recent actions have put veteran director Guillermo del Toro off of video game development for the foreseeable future. Right now, the sun certainly seems to be setting on the popular developer.
While it’s not likely that the studio will ever return to what it was before the divide with Kojima, they are still the proud owners of some of the most storied and revered franchises in video-game history. Hopefully, fans won’t have to become pachinko players to have fun with their favorite series in the future.