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Report: Konami has Kojima Production Employees on Lockdown, Constant Surveillance, and More

metal gear solid v the phantom pain 08-03-15-1

We’ve learned that conditions at Konami may in fact be as bad as we’ve all thought, if a report from Japanese outlet Nikkei is anything to go by.

The report covers a wide swath of the current state of the publisher, however the most shocking bits are the pieces of info covering the inner staff, most especially the staff at Kojima Productions.

If true, this report corroborates the previous Gamespot rumor, in which the employees were essentially on lockdown:

  • The company has shifted from a focus on traditional, hardcore games, to cheaper, mobile titles – back in 2010. This shift was a result of Konami producing the cheaply made, yet massively profitable mobile title, Dragon Collection.
  • The budget for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has exceeded 10 billion yen (roughly $80 million).
  • Kojima Productions is now internally known as “Number 8 Production Department.” Its employees’ computers have no internet access, and can only send messages between computers within Konami.
  • Employees that vacate the office during lunch break are monitored via time cards. If said employees are late to return, they get made an example of by having their names announced to the entire company.
  • Konami has installed cameras in the office corridors to watch and monitor the movements of their employees.
  • The majority of Konami employees don’t have a permanent email address – instead, they have their emails randomized every few months, to avoid head-hunting by other companies. Staff who deal with outsiders, like PR, are some of the few with permanent email addresses.
  • Developers within Konami who are deemed useless are relocated to non-game positions, like the cleaning staff, the fitness clubs, security guards, or even working at their pachi-slot machine factories. This even includes producers who have previously worked on bigger titles.
  • Cited in the Nikkei report is a 2013 report from Asahi News in which a former Konami employee went into manic depression, due to being reassigned to a pachi-slot factory.
  • This same former employee announced on Facebook that he was leaving Konami for a new job, upon which Konami monitored his social media post and had any current employee that “liked” it shuffled around in the company.

Lastly, Nikkei has reached out to Konami founder Kagemasa Kozuki for a comment, but hasn’t gotten a response yet. Kagemasa is known to avoid the public, both the media and his corporate rivals.

Source: Nikkei via Kotaku

,
Brandon Orselli

About

Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive.



48 comments
  1. Ritchet
    Ritchet
    August 3, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    That seals it. I won’t buy Phantom Pain until it’s on the bargain bin. You’re dead to me, Konami.

  2. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    August 3, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    At this point I’m not buying TPP out of spite. I’m not supporting or defending North Konami.

  3. AnarchyBrony
    AnarchyBrony
    August 3, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    They destroyed Silent Hills for this.

  4. Jack Ripper
    Jack Ripper
    August 3, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Wow…looks like Konami is going into the shitters REAL fast.

    It was good knowing ya~

  5. Skylar Misery
    Skylar Misery
    August 3, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    This is some 1984/Big Brother-type shit going on here.

  6. dogmentation
    dogmentation
    August 3, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Maybe they’re just trying to encourage an atmosphere of Tactical Espionage into their corporate climate. it’s not oppression, it’s enrichment! The ultimate ARG!

  7. Misogynerd
    Misogynerd
    August 3, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    The budget for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has exceeded 10 billion yen (roughly $80 million).
    And they’re getting rid of their biggest money maker for that? they would kill themselves if they saw GTA V’s budget. Open World games aren’t cheap baby.
    Lunch cards aren’t exactly uncommon and the problem with some Japanese companies is that they fuck you over until you quit. Still, not a very productive and happy environment.
    Plus yeah, let’s see how those Dragon Collection’s last you Konami. I also ead that SEGA and Nintendo are distancing themselves (the momotaro stuff didn’t pass, right?) from Konami, so the situation might be overboard.

  8. Vizi István
    Vizi István
    August 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I still plan to get TPP on day 1, but even so, this is the sort of over-controlled shit one would expect from a fictional story and not from a company in reality. The biggest offender for me is easily the third to last point – It’s plain unsettling to imagine how it must feel to be re-assigned into a non-developer position just because you were deemed to be “not good enough” or “useless”, especially if you have any sort of self-worth issues. Granted, it would most likely hurt all the same if you wouldn’t suffer from it but still put something to the table in the past before the “reassignment”, but I’m not surprised that this policy even made a former employee fall into severe depression.

    I still uphold the mindset that I’ll buy TPP for KojiPro first and foremost, but perhaps it’s for the better that this’ll be the last MGS made by Kojima and KojiPro. That seems to be the last straw a good amount of people are willing to put up with Konami, and as much as I usually don’t agree with the concept of boycotting, I won’t blame anyone if they get disgusted to the point they won’t buy a game from them anymore. I may still be interested in a Contra for instance, but as far as Konami is concerned, they just keep digging their own grave publicity-wise, and it’s their own damned fault.

  9. Josh Bray
    Josh Bray
    August 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I can’t ignore Kojima’s last hurrah with MGS, so I am with you there on the bargin bin… but Konami is over. Konami doesn’t have to be your game publisher anymore. I hope their gambling section tanks and they have to sell themselves off to non-existence.

  10. Audie Bakerson
    Audie Bakerson
    August 3, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Mobileshit is like every 80s PSA’s drug dealer in real life.

  11. Vizi István
    Vizi István
    August 3, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    “And they’re getting rid of their biggest money maker for that? they
    would kill themselves if they saw GTA V’s budget. Open World games
    aren’t cheap baby.”

    In all fairness Konami most likely just cannot securely afford a game of this magnitude anymore, and as much TPP will probably sell, it will probably have some trouble re-coup the money Konami has put into the game, it isn’t GTA or CoD in terms of popularity. Maybe Konami could have afforded it better a good 10 years ago, but nowadays, they’re certainly no Rockstar or Activision, and who knows if Kojima would have wanted even more time and money for TPP’s development.

  12. RepeatingDigits
    RepeatingDigits
    August 3, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Yeah, with this, TPP is the last Konami game for a lot of people, including me.
    Good luck with making money on the already saturated mobage market, because for every new game they put out we will make sure to give them shit for treating their employees like shit, reminding people what company they’re supporting.
    They’ll crash and burn, the brand is dead and forever dirty.

  13. Steven T.
    Steven T.
    August 3, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    With all that surveilance, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone decides to go all Contra/Rush’n Attack up in the office.

  14. No_Good_Names_Ever
    No_Good_Names_Ever
    August 3, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Soulless conditions for soulless games.

  15. Misogynerd
    Misogynerd
    August 3, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    That may be part, but like I mentioned, they might have given Kojima the order to make the game open world. Plus well they have their Pachinko and fitness clubs. I’m guessing they have a problem with the budget since the game’s not cheap to make unlike Pachinko/Mobile games.

  16. Tubsiwub
    Tubsiwub
    August 3, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    They randomize emails to prevent the employees possible future success? I’d fucking QUIT that job!

  17. Guest
    Guest
    August 3, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    This is disgusting

  18. TrojanHorse711
    TrojanHorse711
    August 3, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    On one hand, if it’s possible I kinda want to pirate the game and (if he’ll accept it) send $60 to Kojima so as to not give money to Konami, as they’re too far gone for me to trust my money with them. Not really a big Metal Gear fan myself, but I firmly stand by Kojima in this case.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t be able to play it on PC because my PC is shit. :p

  19. Misogynerd
    Misogynerd
    August 3, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Jimmy:”Not much. I just wanted to make sure you heard the fuh-fantastic news.
    There’s a new Terrance & Phillip mobile game, and it’s so amazing
    and incredibly fun.”
    “Yeah! And the most unbelievable part? It’s totally free. You should
    download it to your phone right now. I mean, come. On. If it’s free, why
    wouldn’t you?”
    South Park nailed it.

  20. sanic
    sanic
    August 3, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I read about this on nintendo life, apparently the majority of leadership positions are held by kozuki family members which makes sense as they founded the company but nepotism dragging a company down is not terribly shocking too me.

  21. MaidKillua
    MaidKillua
    August 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Fortunately I still have to play the old MGS games first and dont need TPP at launch. Ill get it used, as will I the rest of the series

  22. passthegrenadeplease
    passthegrenadeplease
    August 3, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Harsh. But I suppose you reap is what you sow, Konami has been shooting themselves in the foot lately. I can’t argue with that, really sucks that their gaming division is going to be reduced to making games for mobile. You just had to jump the shark Konami.>.>

  23. Thanatos2k
    Thanatos2k
    August 3, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Is this any surprise at this point? Next we’ll hear that Konami actually murdered employees that spoke out against their despicable practices.

    Nothing is too abhorrent for this garbage company at this point.

    Never give a single dollar of money to these people ever again.

  24. Thanatos2k
    Thanatos2k
    August 3, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Yep

  25. Thanatos2k
    Thanatos2k
    August 3, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Just buy it used.

  26. Tromboner
    Tromboner
    August 3, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    What the shit Konami

  27. Like Whatever
    Like Whatever
    August 4, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Geez…to think, the company that brought us Castlevania, Contra, Turtles in Time, The Simpsons Arcade, and so many other classics, treats its employees like sweatshop workers. That’s really depressing to hear.

  28. Suraimu
    Suraimu
    August 4, 2015 at 12:21 am

    RIP Konami
    They had a good run, nothing lasts forever, let us remember them for their good games.

  29. Tyrannikos
    Tyrannikos
    August 4, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Despicable. I don’t understand such levels of hostility a company can hold towards its own employees.

  30. Zombie_Barioth
    Zombie_Barioth
    August 4, 2015 at 3:32 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the higher ups ordered it due to open world being really popular at the moment thinking it’d be easy money, then had a melt-down when they got a look at the financial reports.

    That’d certainly explain the alleged situation with Kojima, and why his perfectionist tendencies we’re suddenly a problem. It wasn’t such problem for much more linear games. MGS4 supposedly only needed 1mil. to be profitable, so it’s budget had to be around half of MGS5’s to do that at $60 a pop.

  31. 2501
    2501
    August 4, 2015 at 6:00 am

    I thought this was the standard for the Japanese work ethic.

    but no seriously, that is messed up. It’s no wonder why Tak Fujii and Naoki Maeda left this company.

  32. Wand
    Wand
    August 4, 2015 at 6:17 am

    They just have to disappear from the industry. And I bet MGO’s been delayed to transform it in some kind of pay-to-win experience.

  33. Kiryu
    Kiryu
    August 4, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Yakuzas?

  34. DariusQ
    DariusQ
    August 4, 2015 at 11:35 am

    It boggles the mind how a company which was once so great could fall so far. Were conditions always like this or did they pick up some really terrible execs in the last decade?

  35. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    August 4, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I think they decided they want out of the video game business a while ago and decided that, rather than doing it gracefully or at least without stirring up shit, they wanted to go full “scorched earth” so nobody would try to get them to come back.

    And it’s working. Once Kojima’s gone I genuinely think almost nobody, literally nobody, will want anything to do with them as a company again unless they are making money from their pachinko bullshit.

  36. Mea K
    Mea K
    August 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Holy shit, this is what you’d expect from an archetypal evil corporation in a cartoon.

  37. Audie Bakerson
    Audie Bakerson
    August 4, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I actually meant for companies (shareholders demanding a start and killing you as you do it until you either die as an example or kick it), but that works too.

  38. Yabloko Molloco San
    Yabloko Molloco San
    August 4, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    They have been lobbying the legalization of pachislot shite for a while.

  39. Yabloko Molloco San
    Yabloko Molloco San
    August 4, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Reminder that Kojima et al won’t see a penny from the profits of TPP so it’s ok if you pirate the game.

  40. Nonscpo
    Nonscpo
    August 4, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I have no problem passing on Konami games, the last game I bought for them was Yugioh Duel Carnival…on sale! Somehow they still manged to let me down. I just wish they sold off the Yugioh franchise so I could move on.

  41. Nonscpo
    Nonscpo
    August 4, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Buy it used! You can stick it to the man without denying yourself.

  42. sanic
    sanic
    August 4, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Nothing of that mentioned, look into what the family deals in if it’s all short term loans and land leases it’s yakuza.

  43. chaoguy
    chaoguy
    August 5, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I’m curious, do the Japanese go on strike or stage mass-quittings? Is finding new work tough over there right now?

    I’ve heard their attitude is to treat the company like family, and they’ll cover-up your overworked-endued death as not their fault (though smaller companies actually do look after their employees). Is any of that true?

    Much like how Platinum was made up of former Clover Studios people, I wonder who’s gonna make the first big step out and rally the rest of them?

  44. chaoguy
    chaoguy
    August 5, 2015 at 9:56 am

    North Konami is very apt.

  45. Random Dude
    Random Dude
    August 6, 2015 at 3:08 am

    So the PATRIOT is Konami all along. Kojima has been foreshadowing this since MGS….

  46. Graham Ian Mann Gogs
    Graham Ian Mann Gogs
    August 9, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Hmm all those old msx roms I have might jump in value if this pathetic version of Konami goes under.