Konami is giving up on home gaming.
The venerable Japanese gaming giant has nearly 40 years of developing and publishing video games, toys, slot machines and other various nerd culture items under its belt, but recent events seem to point an exit from console gaming.
In March, “Metal Gear Solid” architect Hideo Kojima announced that he would be leaving the franchise. Konami quickly removed his logo and likeness from its websites and promised the franchise would continue without Kojima.
In April, Konami canceled “Silent Hills,” a new entry in the popular “Silent Hill” franchise. Kojima and horror movie mastermind Guillermo del Toro were at the helm of “Silent Hills,” which also featured “Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus in the lead role.
The cancellation also prompted Konami to yank the terrifying and popular “Silent Hills” teaser title “P.T.” from the PlayStation store.
Konami decided to voluntarily remove itself from the New York Stock Exchange on April 27, but that isn’t as big a deal as it seems. Virtually all of the company’s stocks are traded outside of the U.S.
To add insult to injury, Konami teased its fans even further on Twitter when it announced that a Metal Gear Solid ’80s collection was “coming very soon.” I laughed out loud when people discovered this was actually an announcement of a clothing line, not a reboot of the original video games.
Is this enough to predict the death of a company? Probably not. Konami has its hands in quite a few cookie jars. Losing its console and PC gaming presence probably won’t destroy it.
However, there’s no way that delivering major blows to two of the last three great Konami franchises doesn’t illustrate the company’s move away from home gaming. “Castlevania” games will never carry the load — even though people love vampires.
I applaud the moves. Although “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” will probably be a hit when it releases in September, Konami is not what it used to be.
Remember what Konami gave us.
Its studios taught us valuable amphibian safety lessons in the iconic “Frogger” titles for both arcade and home gaming systems. The iconic franchise spawned a legion of imitators, including many of today’s mobile games.
The “Contra” franchise remains a delightful time capsule for all things ’80s. Ridiculous characters using big guns to murder evil aliens in lush jungles and weird space ships is a formula that has worked in video games for nearly 30 years. The franchise also loaned its name to a rad Vampire Weekend album.
The “Gradius” space combat franchise also comes to mind. I am pretty sure the Super Nintendo port of “Gradius III” was one of the first games I ever had on that console. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I enjoyed the pretty colors.
I enjoyed the Konami “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” video game adaptations. They instilled in me the importance of cartoon violence, teen angst and pizza at a young age.
My favorite Konami franchise by a massive margin has to be “Dance Dance Revolution.” I am far too old and fat now to even look at loud, obnoxious arcade games, but a little more than a decade ago I could hang with anyone.
“Dance Dance Revolution” will probably survive Konami’s transition away from traditional video games simply because of the game’s widespread recreational and competitive appeal in arcades across the globe.
The history is there, but I don’t think Konami is doing anything in 2015 to justify its existence in a booming home gaming market. “Silent Hill,” “Castlevania” and “Metal Gear Solid” have showed their age in the last five years. They each populate genres that are waning in popularity, and all three have been left behind by younger, sleeker competitors.
The loss of Kojima is huge. He is one of the last great rock star designers from the ’80s. Popular gaming journalism website IGN ranked him as the sixth best designer of all-time, behind only greats like Shigeru Miyamoto (“Mario”) and Hironobu Sakaguchi (“Final Fantasy”).
I hope Konami does choose to step aside gracefully. It should follow the example set by Nintendo, which is also slowly moving out of console gaming and towards other efforts such as mobile gaming.
Maybe Konami will use this free time to finally develop an anime series about Revolver Ocelot, the best character in all of “Metal Gear Solid.”