Konami – What Went Wrong and Recovering From All the Drama

Konami has had an interesting past two months, at least that would be the nice way to put it. Some would call it disastrous, and it would be hard to argue otherwise. Konami has undoubtedly damaged their brand, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be repaired. In fact, it can be done quite easily. 

Before we get into what Konami can do to fix their reputation and gain consumer goodwill once again, it’s best to look at the recent events that have led them to this precarious position in the first place. It all started with a report that Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima would be leaving the publisher after Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was finished. The next day would provide several new developments as Konami addressed these rumors (and even said they were hiring for a new Metal Gear Solid game) and then removed Kojima’s name and logo from the Metal Gear Solid V website. Then on April 1, Konami would then pull Hideo Kojima’s name off of the Silent Hills website which started the lengthy process of announcing that the anticipated horror game was cancelled. Alongside this news was the announcement that the playable teaser for the game (appropriately titled P.T.) would be removed from the PlayStation Store.

Konami has understandably upset a lot of gamers in the past two months. It’s easy to see why with the cancellation of one of their most promising games, and the removal of P.T. from the store. This has led to several fan-driven campaigns to save the game, including a petition that currently has over 130,000 signatures. Other gamers have gone in the other direction, saying that they will boycott the publisher. Well, after they buy Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain first.

That is where the problem lies. Video game enthusiasts undoubtedly love to play great games and series’ such as Metal Gear Solid. Even if they are disgusted at a publisher, they’re still going to support the game and buy it in droves. Some will actually stand by their actions and not purchase any more Konami products, but most will end up buying the next great game they put out. The only thing that can fix this situation is if Konami continues creating great games.

The Metal Gear Solid IV announcement trailer is sad when viewed in 2015.
The Metal Gear Solid IV announcement trailer is sad when viewed in 2015.

The precedent has already been set by other controversial publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision who have drawn ire from fans yet continually release some of the best selling titles each year. Electronic Arts, in particular, have drawn protests due to a variety of reasons over the years. This includes their exclusivity deal with the NFL that has made Madden the only game in town since 2004. Despite many of 2K Sports loyal fans saying they would boycott EA’s football titles, Madden has been one of the best selling games every year since the deal. In 2014, Madden NFL 15 was the second best selling game. This isn’t the only controversy to follow EA as the handling of Mass Effect 3‘s ending, the broken launch of Battlefield 4, their use of micro-transactions, and implementation of online passes have also drawn criticism from consumers. Despite all this controversy, Electronic Arts is still one of the largest and most successful video game publishers. The reason is simple: they make great games.

Similar to Electronic Arts, Activision has also found its name in the headlines for negative reasons. From concerns over the amount of content in Destiny to the annualization of successful series such as Call of Duty, Activision is constantly being criticized. Look at any comment section for an article on one of their popular releases and you will see consumers that vow to never purchase any of their products. Yet, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was the best selling game of 2014. Even if their business practices may upset consumers, they still shell out their $60 at the end of the day because they want to play great games. 

So the strategy for Konami is really that simple. If they want to restore goodwill and reestablish themselves as a player in the publishing realm, all they have to do is create quality products. Fans will still get excited for a new entry in the Metal Gear SolidCastlevania, or Silent Hill series. They might be skeptical and feel like they’ve been burnt one time too many by the Japanese publisher, but as long as the end product proves to be of a high quality, they will be fine. People love giving second chances, even if they are often not earned.

There is no denying that Konami’s reputation has been tarnished lately. They’ve completely mishandled the current Kojima drama, but this may not even affect them short term. Even the company’s biggest critics will be purchasing Metal Gear Solid V when it’s released in September. Konami’s pockets will not be hurting due to this decision, although the long term future is much more unclear.

As outlined above, if Konami wants to continue in the game industry then they have a simple path to rehabilitate their reputation. If Konami produces fantastic games, gamers will quickly forget about the few months they spent cursing the name of the Zone of the Enders publisher. Ultimately, creating great games is the best way to restore the company to its former glory. It really is that simple.