Well, it was something that everyone was wondering about in the wake of Konami’s explosive—and still largely undisclosed—split from Hideo Kojima, but now it’s official. Guillermo Del Toro has taken to his own Twitter account to personally confirm that Silent HilIs, or at least the version that he was collaborating on with Hideo Kojima, is dead. The actor tapped to participate in the game, Norman Reedus, has similarly confirmed this on Twitter as well.
Obviously this doesn’t mean that the Silent Hill franchise is gone. Everyone was excited about the incredible P.T. demo that debuted on the PS4 last year, and even more excited about the initial announcement that this was a partnership between one of the most deranged developers in Japan and one of the geekiest directors in cinema, but neither Kojima nor Del Toro own the rights to the series. While they unquestionably would have provided the overall direction of the game, they aren’t the musicians, programmers, artists, animators or any of the other hundreds of people involved in the creation of something as complicated as a videogame. In other words, even if the idea people are very much gone, the entire infrastructure to create the game remains intact.
Of course, this is the EXACT same rationale Konami is taking with regards to the Metal Gear Solid franchise. In the end, Hideo Kojima may have created and steered the series over the past 30 years, but, from bean counter perspective, he’s just one man, one cog—albeit a big one—in a corporate machine. From a logistics point of view that only looks at numbers, not creativity, as long as the rest of the machine functions, switching out one “part” for another should have no impact on performance. In the realm of entertainment, that’s often an incredibly dangerous point of view to take, but obviously, SOMEONE, or some faction at Konami must have been thinking along these lines. Despite the fact that Hideo Kojima is the Konami equivalent of Shigeru Miyamoto, a name with legacy and marketing cache that has reliably generated profit over the years, they STILL decided to part ways with him.
“Because massive reputation in gaming circles these franchises have, it’s doubtful that we’ll see the end of either Metal Gear or Silent Hill games from Konami.”
So now that Konami only has one last Kojima Metal Gear game out in September, and the upcoming horror game everyone REALLY wanted to play is now going to morph into something else, what big guns does Konami have left? In the last two years, they’ve only released three games per year on the Xbox 360 and PS3, consisting of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Ground Zeroes, two Pro Evolution Soccer games, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. This year, they are releasing only one game and that’s MGS 5, The Phantom Pain. That’s right, their biggest—and so far only gun—this year is from a man no longer employed there, and their other franchises, such as Dance Dance Revolution, Suikoden and Contra are simply too old and/or irrelevant now thanks to years of neglect.
While it’s true that one man can’t make a AAA videogame at the level of MGS all by himself, it still takes someone with a rare combination of artistry, technical savvy and people management to get an entire massive crew to come together around a single vision. Hideo Kojima had that. The “Team Silent” crew of Keiichiro Toyama, Masahiro Ito, Masashi Tsuboyama and, of course, Akira Yamaoka had that. Now all that Konami has is the legacy that these people have left behind.
Because of the massive reputation in gaming circles these franchises have, it’s doubtful that we’ll see the end of either Metal Gear or Silent Hill games from Konami. We’ve already seen what when Konami continues their franchises, we get Silent Hill 5: Homecoming or Lords of Shadow 2. We get games that show some of the DNA that made these series popular, but without the same creative spark that originally made them special. Now it looks like we’re going to continue to get that with Silent Hill, and the same is going to happen to Metal Gear. It’s even possible that Konami may be leaving the traditional console gaming business and moving into something else. That would certainly explain the lack of news on any releases after MGS5, and go after some of that low budget mobile gaming money.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Konami is changing direction in a big way, and they don’t seem interested in making sure the change caters to long time fans.