By Jeff Neuenschwander / August 3rd, 2015
It’s already been a bad year for those with a vested interest in Konami. And if you had a stake in the company being a video game powerhouse again, it’s about to get worse. Japanese financial publication Nikkei has revealed some rather interesting news and questionable practices from within Konami. It should be said up front that these sources are anonymous and should be taken with a grain of salt.
First and foremost: how Konami treats their employees. Nikkei has revealed that specific departments are forced to use randomized email addresses when contacting those outside the company. Sales was listed as the main department using this system. It is also reported that employees are kept under watch with strict time allotment for lunch. While this all may seem minor to some, what comes next is most definitely problematic. From the translation of freelance localizer Thomas James:
Employees deemed useless have been known to do assemblyline work, security guard detail, cleanup at fitness clubs.
These aren’t nobodies being told to do this work either. Producers and other prominent creators have had this hoisted on them.
One famous incident of reassignments happened over a FB post of a guy saying he was heading to another company. Those who liked it were quickly found to have their positions shifted around. Even upper management with loyal followings were hit by this.
As for the more game-related news from the article, Konami has recently gotten rid of Momotaro Dentetsu over disagreements of revenue with the creator. Momotaro Dentetsu is a board game-style video game similar to that of Monopoly that had seen releases since 1988. Moving on, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has apparently reached the $80 million mark for budget, putting it in the Top 20 for highest video game budgets of all-time. Meanwhile, those that were looking forward to anything in the Tokimeki Memorial or Suikoden franchises shouldn’t hold their breath as development for both have been stopped (unknown if any games at all were in development at the time of the halt). It should be noted that Akari Uchida, the producer of Love Plus that left in March of this year, was a producer and designer for the Tokimeki Memorial series.
And for those that are wondering what happened to Konami, one employee believes that the shift started in 2010 when Dragon Collection released on mobile phones. The game cost less than $1 million but made an enormous amount of money. Since then, Konami co-founder and Chairman Kagamasa Kozumi has been pushing against rising costs in the console market.
The 2010 line of demarcation can be shown in the release schedule from the past five years. No new game has appeared on a Nintendo home console since 2011. The 3DS hasn’t seen a new game since 2013. Arcade releases have dropped considerably over that time. And the high-end consoles have only seen as many as three games release in both 2013 and 2014, with only two scheduled this year.
The Nikkei has reached out to Kagamasa Kozumi, although with no reply as of right now. Kozumi has been known to be a bit of a recluse, but it is said that this has escalated in recent years, becoming distant from his peers in the industry.
Anything positive to come from this? Well, a Momotaro Densetsu game — not a typo, this is a Hudson Soft created RPG series featuring the character Momotarō from Japanese folklore — was licensed out to Nintendo. It is expected to be released next year.
Dragon CollectionKonamiMetal Gear Solid V : The Phantom PainmobileNikkeiSuikoden