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Metal Gear’s creator appears to be parting ways with longtime publisher Konami

Konami has removed series creator Hideo Kojima’s name from the branding for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. A growing body of evidence suggests that while Kojima will stay on to complete MGSV, his tenure with Konami may be otherwise over. The publisher’s only statement on the matter thus far is as follows:

As we have already announced, we are shifting our production structure to a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business. Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements.

Users on Reddit and NeoGAF spotted the branding change on Konami’s new website. That differs from what’s seen on an archived version of the site, which includes “A Hideo Kojima Game” over every instance of the title, just as it had been for all Metal Gear Solid games up to this point.

Related: MGS V: The Phantom Pain goes competitive with a new and improved Metal Gear Online

Meanwhile, Kojima does not appear on the latest list of Konami executives, which is current as of April 1, 2015. He is currently listed as Executive Content Officer and Director of Kojima Productions. Earlier in March, Konami announced a substantial corporate restructuring toward “a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business.”

In practice, this seems to mean keeping the Konami brand front and center while de-emphasizing individual studios like Kojima Productions. Job postings on the Konami site have revealed that Kojima Productions LA has been renamed to Konami Los Angeles Studio. The Kojima Productions Twitter account has redirected fans to a new, consolidated Metal Gear account. At the time of writing the only update from the new account is a claim to its own legitimacy.

The corporate restructuring and flurry of rumors surrounding it casts new light on a cryptic tweet from Kojima, posted a few days prior to the news breaking. “Heading Off,” he wrote, including an MGS V screenshot of a man getting into a helicopter.

Kojima has worked at Konami since joining in 1986 as a designer. He developed numerous games in that time, most famously the Metal Gear series, which is famous for its challenging, stealth gameplay, and totally bonkers, marvelously convoluted plots.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain arrives on September 1, 2015 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, with a Windows release to follow on September 15.