With Konami claiming that it is calling an end to making AAA video games for home consoles, and only focusing on its soccer series Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). Some are claiming that Konami have driven their video game business into the ground. Is this such a bad thing for the company as a whole? After all Konami is more than just a video game publishing company, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that it has come to this. I know I wasn’t. Konami has been on a downward spiral for years only releasing a few games a year since 2008. 2015 only saw them release two games, PES 2016 and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
As of the 8th of September The Phantom Pain has sold more than three million copies. The Phantom Pain had a budget of around eighty million dollars, so it will have made back its production costs with these sales. However, that budget would not include the money spent on marketing, and seeing as it has such an extensive marketing campaign. The amount Konami spent on the game overall will be a lot higher. Forbes has estimated that the game would need to sell at least six million copies worldwide before it would break even. This would be a hard task to live up to seeing as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was not able to break the six million benchmark, according to website VGChartz. In fact, going by this website, Metal Gear Solid and the squeal Sons of Liberty, hardly made it over the 6 million mark. With Phantom Pain selling around as much as Guns of the Patriots, despite being on multiple consoles, I find it easy to see why Konami would hesitate to continue to publish big budget games.
Konami is not above making what could be seen as a radical discussion such as this; or rather, decisions that seem radical to us over here in the west. Konami announced at the end of July that the next Castlevania property they were working on was not going to be something for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One but rather a pachinko machine. For those of you who don’t know, Pachinko is a popular game in Japan that is like a mix of pinball and slots. It was created to get around Japan’s strict gambling laws and turns in trillions of yen in profit. Trillions. With one trillion yen — equalling around eight billion dollars — that is a lot of money to tap into. I can’t even begin to fathom what you could do with that kind of money. If Konami wants to turn away from console gaming and focus more on the pachinko market, then I can begrudgingly understand that. As much as I would like more Metal Gear, Silent Hill or even Zone of the Enders content — Konami doesn’t. To them, it just doesn’t make sense. With games getting even bigger and bigger, why spend millions on a console game with the high risk of making that money back. When they can make just as much with Pachinko machines — with a much smaller production cost?
That’s the heart of the matter, the cost. Making mobile games with micro-transactions — pachinko are so much more cost efficient — as a business it’s the obvious choice to make. When games like Power Pros Touch are reported to make almost One million dollars a day than from Konami’s view point, perhaps they were right, and mobile gaming is the future if you want to profit. The bigger and stronger the consoles, the more time and money needs to be spent on development. But with mobile games — where graphics and mechanics are not as important — they are a lot easier to churn out.
So is Konami making bad decisions? Not for themselves! They have chosen the best course for them as a company — for making money, which is really how all companies should operate. This doesn’t mean that it is the best decision for gamers? No. The cancellation of what could have been one of the best Silent Hill games and Konami firing Kojima. Means he won’t be able to carry on with the Metal Gear franchise, at least not with Kojima in charge. Konami’s choices will mean there will be a big loss felt within the gaming industry. I am not to happy with them, but I do understand why.