Hideo Kojima is right to start afresh, as much as it may pain us

I’m sure that you will have noticed that the internet has been awash with all things Hideo Kojima of late. Rumours have swirled persistently and various video game journalist sites have fallen over themselves to glean the tiniest snippet of information. Much of this furore has centred on what the renowned developer’s next project will be. Kojima has been careful to keep details to himself at this stage, but towards the end of last week he confirmed that the project will not be along the lines of Silent Hills. Dry your eyes, Kojima fans: this is actually a very sensible decision. Allow me to explain why.

I, like surely many tens of thousands of others, sat glued to my monitor last Thursday, waiting impatiently for the conversation between legendary director Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima at DICE 2016. What followed was an illustration of the pair’s awe-inspiring bromance and an insight into the strengths and limitations of the film and video-game mediums and industries. Were we treated to so much as a hint as to the nature of Kojima’s next labour of love? Of course not. It would have been a bombshell of Top Gear proportions if we had been.

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Mr. Kojima did, however, reaffirm something key. Now that he is free from the nefarious pantomime villain-clutches of Konami, the developer feels truly free. He clearly wants to completely forget about the Konami saga, and sever any ties with his previous creations, as they will inevitably be tainted by the shadow of the company that treated him with such acrimony.

In short, the fifty-two year old developer (yes, fifty-two!) will not be revisiting Silent Hills, or anything like it, for his next project. He has confirmed as much.

P.T. was an incredible success as a teaser and an exemplary piece of marketing when it popped on to the PlayStation Store under a pseudonym developer back in 2014. It was of course quickly discovered that it was teasing Silent Hills, which would star Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame. The whole episode became a phenomenon. That was only reinforced when P.T. was withdrawn from the PlayStation Store amidst the very public dispute between Kojima and Konami. The whole saga strengthened Kojima’s reputation as a maverick, talented visionary rallying against the establishment, and the tantalising glimpse of what Silent Hills could have been sent anticipation through the roof.

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To most of us on the outside, it was a soap opera, and an entertaining one at that. We cheered for Hideo Kojima and sung his praises between mouthfuls of popcorn. It is harder to imagine, however, how difficult it must have been for Kojima at the centre of it. Maybe it was just me, but behind that relaxed demeanour during the discussion with del Toro, there was a strong hint of repressed bitterness behind those glasses. Behind the smile, there looked to be the pain of a man who has had disillusionment nudging him extremely close to an abyss. Kojima himself alluded to how he was tempted to take a break after the debacle, but was persuaded not to by family and close friends.

It therefore makes perfect sense that he would want to distance himself from the whole affair now. Putting the boot into Konami is amusing, sure, but it doesn’t actually achieve anything at this stage. Any bridges between Kojima and Konami haven’t just burnt down; they’ve been well and truly incinerated amidst billowing clouds of acrimonious smoke.

So let’s be honest with ourselves. With how bitter the fallout between Kojima and Konami has been, there is next to no chance that Konami will hand over any rights that they own. I would wager that even if offered a huge wodge of cash by Kojima Productions for the rights to the Silent Hill franchise, or for the Fox Engine, Konami would dismiss it. Childish it may be, but Konami have already demonstrated their ability to stoop to extraordinarily petty lows.

Hideo Kojima has given an awful lot to this industry that we all love. Whether or not you idolise him, that much cannot be disputed. The developer has shown extraordinary creativity and vision time-after-time, so has earned our excited expectation. He is absolutely right to want to wipe the slate clean and draw a line under the whole Konami saga. As much as it may pain, we should stop looking back at the past, and be ready for what a truly “free” Kojima will bring us in the future. That is, after all, what the great man himself wants:

To be honest, I don’t want to look back. I just want to move forward.

 

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