One of the more eagerly anticipated games of the last few years, Silent Hills, appears to have become a victim of… whatever the hell is happening between Konami and the notoriously eccentric game developer Hideo Kojima. It’s a shame we won’t see what Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro had planned, but a better question is whether Konami just decided to end its video game division.
Konami has been, historically, one of the biggest publishers and developers of video games in the world. Everybody 35 and under knows the Konami code by heart, and during the 8-bit and 16-bit era they were noted for high-end beat-em-ups, shoot-em-ups, and pioneering arcade games. But, increasingly, the company appears to be wondering whether making video games is worth it at all.
In theory, we were supposed to see 14 major new console games between the beginning of 2014 and the end of 2015. Konami has delivered four of those games: Currently, the only major game it’s announced for 2015 is Metal Gear Solid V. And Silent Hills, which was at least far enough along to create a tremendous playable teaser, was clearly going to be their next bid to change the company.
It’s not a secret that many Japanese developers are struggling in the modern gaming industry. Many of them are facing fairly serious questions about whether to abandon developing for consoles altogether and focus on handheld and mobile games, or just on other aspects of their business. But for Konami, the problems seem particularly urgent. Konami, as a company, is surprisingly diverse; They make slot machines and pachinko machines, they own health clubs, they have real estate holdings… and essentially all of it makes more money with less investment than their video game division.
Silent Hills was much more than just a new game in a beloved franchise: It was an ambitious attempt to work with major stars and create a video game that would capture attention outside GameStops and NeoGAF boards. This announcement is Konami more or less admitting they don’t see the value in that. Which in turn begs the question of how long it will be before Konami doesn’t see any value in video games at all.
UPDATE: Konami has voluntarily delisted itself from the New York Stock Exchange. The company was under no threat of being delisted by the exchange that we’re aware of and the stock was trading at roughly $18 a share.