Konami de-lists Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 over licensing issues

Big Boss saluting.
(Image credit: Konami)

Konami has announced that it will be removing Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3 from various digital storefronts, including GOG.com and Nvidia Shield. The removal is apparently "temporary" and relates to the use of licensed footage within cutscenes.

"We are currently working on renewing the licenses for select historical archive footage used in-game," reads Konami's announcement. "Therefore, we have made the temporary decision to begin suspending the sale of Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 and all products that include these games from digital storefronts globally starting from November 8th, 2021. 

"We sincerely ask for your patience and understanding as we work towards making these products available for purchase once again. Thank you for your continued support of the Metal Gear series."

MGS 2: Substance seems to still be available on GOG.com (or I could add it to my cart at least), but expect that to change very soon. MGS2 and 3 have been removed from the Nvidia Shield app.

Outside of PC this is affecting a whole raft of variant titles: in its heyday, Metal Gear sure did love ports and variant editions. The series is weirdly platform-locked in some respects, given its size and influence, most notably with MGS4: Guns of the Patriots which has never been released outside of PlayStation 3.

Solid Snake, pointing his silenced pistol.

(Image credit: Konami)

PCG contacted Konami to ask a few questions about the timing and what to expect. The publisher wouldn't comment on the timeframe or if the games will be changed in any way until they return. I asked if the licensed footage was referring to the various clips that are intercut with in-game footage: both MGS2 and MGS3 feature news clips of, for example, John F. Kennedy and historical events like the Cuban Missile Crisis. Konami confirmed this is correct but wouldn't get into the specifics.

The timing of this lines up with Konami having agreed 20-year deals for the initial releases: MGS2 will celebrate its 20th anniversary on November 13, five days from now. It's probably the case that, when Konami realised this was coming up, it just decided to deal with the issue in MGS3 at the same time (it was released almost exactly three years after MGS2).

Whether the publisher will return the games to sale in a timely manner, and in what form, remains to be seen: but these are some of the most important titles in big budget history, and should certainly be available on PC. There are signs that Konami is finally ready to move on with the series, with a recent rumour suggesting a new entry is in the early stages of development, and that remakes of certain main entries will precede this. Whether today's news is linked to that is unknown.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."