Game developer faces policy allegations
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
A Konami representative denied the accusation during an interview this week with Nintendo Life, following recent reports from news sites Gameblog and Eurogamer that the game developer would cease producing titles for their flagship game franchises in favour of mobile gaming apps and licenced pachinko machines.
“I can promise you we’re definitely not leaving Metal Gear behind or anything like that,” said the unnamed representative in a private release. “I know some blogs were claiming that online this morning, but I’m not really sure where they’d be getting that from. We’re still definitely working on console games and franchises like Metal Gear, Silent Hill, Castlevania, PES, and all the rest.”
Considering the recent success of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, this comes as no surprise. Following the controversy surrounding Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima’s leaving Konami before the title was even released, the game sold three million copies during its launch week. According to Konami, they have no plans to abandon such a lucrative franchise.
However, Kojima is not Konami’s only critic. According to a report this week by Yuji Nitta at Japanese news blog Nikkei, anonymous complaints regarding the company’s treatment of its employees have surfaced. The report claims that the unexpected success of 2010 mobile game Dragon Collection caused the company to shift focus from AAA gaming titles to quick and cheap mobile gaming. Allegedly, this shift brought with it numerous restrictive corporate policies.
Nitta claimed that employees are time-carded and kept under constant video surveillance. Reportedly, employees who do not promptly return from their lunch breaks are publicly shamed. Only sales and PR employees are permitted personal email addresses; all others must use randomized internal addresses that change monthly. The former Kojima Productions has now been rebranded as “Number 8 Production Department,” where staff have no Internet access and are only permitted to use internal servers.
Many of these allegations echo statements made by an anonymous former Konami employee in a 2013 interview with Asahi News. He claimed to have been demoted from working as a game developer to dismantling pachinko machines in a factory over a minor, unknown error. According to the Asahi article, other developers have been reassigned to menial stations as janitors or security guards as punishment for unspecified errors.
Similarly, the creators of lesser-known gaming franchises Momotaro Dentetsu, Tokimeki Memorial,and Suikoden have all abandoned the company following Konami’s shift to mobile. Though their reasons were not stated, it is implied that they were not willing to remain with the company under such restrictive policies.
Konami’s management tier is largely insular. Company founder Kagemasa Kozuki and his son Takuya Kozuki are chairman and president, respectively. Kozuki’s nephew and son-in-law sit on the board of directors, and four of the company’s internal directors are also members of the Kozuki family. Nikkei has attempted to reach the management tier for comment, but has received no response.