Hideo Kojima says Japanese games are a "hard sell" to global audiences


Metal Gear maestro Hideo Kojima, who recently left Konami to start a new Kojima Productions, had some interesting things to say in a recent interview with The New Yorker on the state of the Japanese videogame industry, and the prospect of life as an independent game maker.

Kojima was inspired to make games largely by Nintendo's Famicon console, but the technological limitations of the era were very much a constraining a factor. That's not nearly so much of an issue now, but the advent of new and more powerful gaming system has led to another, entirely different sort of problem.

"Games matured beyond simple interactive toys and into a rich medium that could deliver drama and other deeper elements," he said. "At that point, Japanese games became a hard sell: their sensibilities and cultural identity were distinct and unrelatable."

The only way to create "high-end" games is to develop for the global market, but that requires a management team that has a "keen sense for what will work, and [is] willing to take risks," he continued. That sounds like essentially the opposite of Konami, which recently made a well-documented move away from triple-A game development in favor of an increased focus on mobile games.

"If you’re only focused on the profits immediately in front of you, the times will leave you behind," Kojima said. "It becomes impossible to catch up again."

Kojima seems to be looking forward to life at the head of an independent studio, saying that he'll now be able to "do what I want with much more speed." He also hinted that he'll be a lot more outspoken than he was previously. "When I was in a company, my personal statements could be taken as the over-all direction of the company," he said. "As such, I couldn’t say just anything."

Sony announced earlier this week that Kojima's next game, whatever it turns out to be, will launch as a PlayStation console exclusive. It's already confirmed that it will come to the PC eventually, though, following the expiration of the exclusivity period, the length of which hasn't been revealed. That's very good news: Kojima's last game for Konami, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, was our pick for 2015 Game of the Year. We'll be rolling out awards across all sorts of other categories over the following days. Who knows, other games might win big ones too!

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.