After seeing rumors of PlayStation attempting to revive Silent Hill with two new games, we now see claims that Sony is attempting to buy the Silent Hill IP, along with Castlevania, and Metal Gear Solid.
Jack of All Controllers had also reported on PlayStation attempting a “soft reboot” of Silent Hill, along with reviving Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hills (also known as the P.T.). They later updated their article with new information.
While initially citing a screencap of an anonymous post from 4Chan, Jack of All Controllers state that they “later verified [the information] on our end from our own sources.”
The post also seemingly dates back to January 13th. This is eight days prior to Rely on Horror‘s article (the source of the Silent Hill rumors), while containing some information from that later article.
For those of you relying on machine translation, the above post states:
“Hello, I’m an employee from Konami (Sorry for my bad english).
I heard (for a little moment) that Sony wants to buy franchises such as Metal Gear, Silent Hill and Castlevania.
They want to remake MG1 and MG2:SS (just ideologically after the fifth path is suitable). Kojima is involved. PS5 exclusive.
Silent Hill x Keiichiro Toyama (Sony, Gravity Rush/Siren/Silent Hill 1) x Masahiro Ito (https://twitter.com/adsk4/starus/121357381693203712). Soft reboot. PS5 exclusive. Maybe Ikumi Nakamura involved (She’s with SIE now).
Castlevania. Full reboot. Shutaro Iida x Koji Igarashi x Sony Japan project. Very bloodborne style, I think more like as Lords of Shadow. Not 2d. PS5 exclusive.
The text at the end is Goodbye in hiragana (Translation: Google Translate), and the linked tweet has since been deleted or removed.
Is it True?
The idea of Sony having sole ownership of Silent Hill would resolve some of the issues we had with the prior rumor. It would otherwise mean Sony having permission to make a soft-reboot from Konami, then attempting to court them into letting Hideo Kojima make another game- and attempting to mend the bad blood between them [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
Regarding what Sony is allegedly planning with the other two IPs, a remake of the first two Metal Gear Solid games would be a safe bet. As we discussed with the prior rumor, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Final Fantasy VII: Remake, Resident Evil 2 (2019), and Resident Evil 3 (2020) have shown and created a demand for remakes of classic PlayStation titles.
Sony wanting to get their hands on Castlevania also makes sense, given the well received animated series [1, 2]. As the third series is already underway, and considering the surge of interest the live-action The Witcher series gave the video game franchise (and original books), this would be something Sony would desire.
As for changing the gameplay to something closer to Bloodborne or the Lords of Shadow series, there is some logic. Both games were well received (at least with the first Lords of Shadow game). Imitating their style would make sense, with the last “true” Castlevania game being Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia in 2008, and the two former titles being more recent.
In addition, the Lords of Shadow series were more focused on action, and used spectacle in its visuals and boss battles. This could mean more casual players can still have a sense of accomplishment on easier difficulties (or if the game is easier overall).
Then again, if the game is as challenging as Bloodborne (and marketed to appeal to the challenge, much like the Dark Souls series), it is surprising that Sony would not aim for the original Castlevania gameplay style- keeping older fans happy while welcoming more into the fold. The main series has a reputation for being extremely challenging,
Another factor are the Bloodstained games [1, 2]. These were developed by Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi, and fellow Castlevania-alumni Shutato Iida. The success of the games crowdfunding shows there is a demand for classic Castlevania style gameplay. Then again, it is hardly daring to assume Bloodborne sold more than either of the Bloodstained games.
All of the proposed games would also give Sony more “killer apps” for the PlayStation 5, and bound to sell well. Even so, the PlayStation 5 is due to release Holiday 2020. It seems unlikely they would launch with the console, as the industry overall prefers to build marketing and “hype” for major titles like this almost a year in advance.
We must then consider if Konami would sell their most famous IPs. Looking at their stock value, Konami hit an all-time high in June 2017 with $58 USD a share. While it has fallen to $41 a share as of this time of writing, this is much higher than their pre-2016 figures (their highest being $28 and $27 a share, in 2007 and 2011 respectively).
Konami suffered negative PR with how they handled their split with Kojima. Combined with some claiming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain had suffered from executive meddling, and the disastrous reception of Metal Gear Survive, it is not impossible to imagine Konami wanting to rid themselves on an IP they can no longer use without generating bad PR.
The same could apply to Silent Hill, with fans desperate for Kojima’s vision of Silent Hills, and the last major entries in 2012 being received averagely or poorly (Silent Hill: Downpour, Silent Hill HD Collection, and Silent Hill: Book of Memories). There were also Silent Hill films in 2006 and 2012, that had similar receptions with critics and audiences alike.
Meanwhile, the Castlevania series of video games have suffered a similar fate. The most recent entries were the Lords of Shadow spin-off games [1, 2, 3], and while the reception started warm, the most recent game was less favorable. This last entry was launched in 2014.
As mentioned earlier, Bloodstained was well received. This could mean Konami attempting to develop another Castlevania game see them competing with yet more former staff, having made also made a well-received game in the style of one of their IPs without them.
As an aside, Bloodstained’s success could be used to claim why Shutaro and Koji would not wish to team up with Sony on Castlevania. As the games were the result of crowdfunding, both may utilize it in the future for more projects, or desire the “safety” of working under a publisher again. We have much less to go on here.
Due to the aforementioned success of the Castlevania animated series, it is surprising to think Konami would give up being able to appeal to that potential new audience. As they have been accused of moving towards more casual games, even a mobile game using the IP would make sense from a business standpoint.
Konami has had an apparent shift away from hardcore video games, with the exception of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner and Contra: Rogue Corps. Most of Konami’s recent titles are from the Pro Evolution Soccer series, Yu-Gi-Oh! series, and a greater focus on mobile titles- as they said they would in 2015.
While rumored to be stopping all AAA game production in 2015, Konami themselves denied the rumor. After that however, Konami began to use their popular IPs (including Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid, and Silent Hill) for pachinko machines (a form of gambling game). This even included a Silent Hill pachinko machine in 2019.
Even if the IPs are being used in a way that is a far-cry from their original intent, it seems to be profitable. Casino games rely on drawing attention as much as possible, and recognizable brands would be an effective method.
Judging by their profits, Konami seem to be doing quite well. Looking at their 2019 Financial Report [1, 2] (page 6), Konami made 141,699 million yen from “Digital Entertainment”, 27,837 million yen from “Amusement”, and 31,170 million yen from “Gaming & Systems.”
Judging from the description of the catagories, it seems Amusement refers to gambling machines in Japan, while Gaming & Systems refers to gambling machines in Europe. It should be noted that gambling in illegal in Japan, but not exchanging the prizes a person wins for money at another establishment.
As such, gambling machines and other amusements made a total of 59,007 million yen in 2019 for Konami. Digital Entertainment still made over half of Konami’s profit, and saw a greater rise in 2019 compared to 2018. Digital Entertainment rose by 17.8%, while Amusement and Gaming & Systems rose by 10.6% and 5.2% respectively.
When discussing Digital Entertainment however, Konami mentioned games such as Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. If Konami were to abandon gambling and amusement games, they could still focus on these styles games; titles with a supportive audience, without a AAA development cost.
In 2019, Konami Europe president Masami Saso stated “Even with new platforms coming out, we believe high-end console games are the most important, […]so we will continue to put effort into our console games.”
The rumor sounds perfectly valid for what Sony would want. Metal Gear Solid remakes would match with how PlayStation has done well with other remakes on their system, and more in the future.
Getting their hands on Castlevania also makes sense, especially right now. If they obtained Silent Hill, it would also eliminate nigh-all of our doubts from the prior rumor.
However we have some doubt Konami would sell those IPs, even with their focus on smaller titles. Konami seems to be doing well financially, and holding onto their old IPs would be minimal cost should they ever desire or need to go back into AAA game development. There’s also nothing stopping them using those IPs on smaller budgeted titles.
They may also loathe the idea of giving back the Metal Gear Solid IP rights to Kojima. This may also apply to other former staff who are alleged to work on Castlevania and Silent Hill, though with far less animosity between them.
Then again, we do not know what Konami may be planning in the future, their expected costs, and their expected profit (or losses). If an offer has been made, we also do not know how much Sony has offered. How much would you pay for these IPs?
Konami may be content with profit generated from audiences of sports and Yu-Gi-Oh! titles, requiring less marketing costs, development costs, and overall risk when compared to AAA titles.
Selling even one of these major IPs could generate enough profit to acquire or develop multiple, smaller titles. These could collectively generate a large amount of profit, with less risk.
Everything hinges on how much money Konami would want, their future plans, and if they are comfortable letting old associates reap the reward from their properties once again.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!