The Era of Japan’s All-Powerful Videogame Designers Is Over – CHRIS KOHLER 04.30.15 7:00 AM


Hideo Kojima’s exit from Konami isn’t just the end of  Metal Gear as we know it. It’s the end of the era of big-name directors running the show in Japan.

From all appearances, the groundbreaking director of the influential, often brilliant Metal Gear Solid games will be done with

It may not be a stretch to say that there will never be another Kojima, no one creator who holds such sway over a massive big-budget gaming enterprise. It’s too expensive, too risky a business to be left up to the creative whims of a single auteur. But that’s precisely what the Japanese game business was, for a long time. Kojima’s exit just puts a period on it. The era of the Legendary Game Designer producing massive triple-A games at Japanese studios is officially over.

As one of the world’s most famous game directors (based entirely on the strength of his signature game series), Kojima had had quite the sweetheart deal going on since Metal Gear Solid struck gold on the original PlayStation. His development company Kojima Productions was created as a Konami subsidiary, operating semi-autonomously. Now the Kojima Productions website redirects to Konami, its Twitter is gone, and its US operation has been renamed Konami Los Angeles.

Most of Japan’s most famous game designers already have split from the publishers that made them famous, opening studios of their own. Capcom’s powerhouse producers Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) and Keiji Inafune (Mega Man) are long gone. Tomonobu Itagaki (Ninja Gaiden) is no longer with Koei Tecmo. Castlevania chief Koji Igarashi left Konami last year.

Kojima was the one major holdout, probably because of how Kojima Productions was set up. The games he created there were blockbusters, but they also were (not to understate the case) batshit crazy; Metal Gear was synonymous with elaborate, tangled storylines that took dozens of hours of elaborately produced cinematic scenes to unfold, and even then you weren’t quite sure just what had happened.

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