The word on the street is that Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear franchise, is now officially departed from Konami, and according to the New Yorker has in fact been gone since October 9. His departure included a farewell party attended by around 100 guests, which was memorialized in a photograph posted by the article's author on Twitter (opens in new tab) earlier today. Konami, however, says that's not actually the case at all, and that Kojima and his team are just taking a long and well-deserved vacation.
The New Yorker report goes in-depth on the reasons for Kojima's split from Konami, which include the shift in focus to mobile gaming and the depiction of the studio as a truly awful place to work. And given his well-publicized disputes with the company over the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and Konami's ham-fisted effort to erase Kojima's very existence (at least as it relates to Metal Gear), it's not like this is a surprising development.
What is surprising is Konami's denial of the whole thing. In an interview with Tokyo Sports (translated by CGMagazine), a rep said Kojima is "still listed as a company employee," and that he and his development team are simply "taking a long time off from work" to recover from "fatigue" caused by the stress of creating the new game. As for the 'farewell party,' the rep said, "We're not sure what kind of thing this was."
It's possible that some subtlety was lost in the translation, but I can't imagine how anyone could reasonably expect Kojima to stick around after the year he's had. I'll keep an eye on things and let you know if Konami starts singing a different tune, but for now I think the safe bet is that Kojima is out, and Konami still hasn't figured out what to do about it.
Here is a photograph of Kojima's farewell party on October 9th at Konami, which Konami claims no knowledge of: pic.twitter.com/xgRUoYs5qtOctober 20, 2015