Hideo Kojima, creator of the legendary Metal Gear Solid franchise, has spoken about the time in his life between leaving Konami in 2015 and now, getting ready for the launch of Death Stranding in just over a month.
In an interview with Famitsu Kojima explains what he was feeling as he left the company that had supported his phenomenal ideas to strike out on his own and create something fresh and new. The creator announced that he was building his own studio, Kojima Productions, and would be making a new game in December 2015. Now we stand on the precipice of this brave new game genre that Death Stranding represents, but no one has ever really understood what happened between Kojima and Konami to cause him to go it alone. In this interview Kojima touched upon the subject.
At the time Kojima went about setting up Kojima Productions, he was 53 years old. Many people, his family included, wanted him to retire and live a quiet life, but that wasn’t enough for him. He describes how he was just one guy saying that he was going to make this genre-defining game, but he didn’t have the kind of money required to back it up. Most people doubted him and his idea, and with good reason. Kojima himself admits that before him there are no examples of world famous game designers heading off on their own to create a game by themselves. In addition, there are examples of developers striking out alone to both huge success and massive losses in equal numbers.
At the time of Kojima’s departure from Konami, there seemed to be a general consensus around the world that if anyone could pull-off making a new big budget game by themselves, it was him. Everyone also agreed that it sounded as though he had been incredibly poorly treated by Konami, so going it alone was something he had to do in their eyes, just to show that he could and that his ideas held credence. However, setting up by yourself is no easy feat, particularly when you need to make a game like Death Stranding.
Kojima says that the banks wouldn’t give him the money he needed to get the studio started. While each bank understood and acknowledged that he was well known, and renowned, for the games he’d created, he had no proven track record of financial returns. Due to this, the banks wouldn’t touch him. Part of the issue could have been that the Metal Gear franchise always performed much better outside of Japan, which of course Japanese financial institutions wouldn’t know, or care, about.
However, being a renowned game creator does pay off, so it seems. Japan’s biggest bank, where Kojima didn’t think he stood a chance, was the bank to finally offer him the loan he needed to get Kojima Productions off the ground. Apparently the banker was a big fan of Kojima’s past work.
Kojima then set about looking for a building to house his new company in. He wanted a nice looking building that would inspire confidence in the families of those he hoped to employ, otherwise they might take one look and immediately think the project was going to fail. However, since Kojima’s fame stems mainly from outside of Japan, the landlords he spoke to were wary of letting their office space to him. However, once again he just happened upon a landlord who was a fan of his work, and that’s how Kojima Productions ended up in a nice building, with enough money to pay the staff.
In the end, Kojima explained that he was thankful for the 30 years he spent making games at Konami. He says that without that experience, and the renown it has given him, he wouldn’t be where he is today.