The news accompanies an ongoing exodus of established game development talent within Konami, substantiated by recent reports outlining the company’s unusually hostile treatment of its employees.
Once a formidable video game publisher with many popular franchises to its credit, Konami has suffered major setbacks in recent years with poorly received releases and declining profits in its console gaming sector. Though Konami has not officially revealed plans for a major shakeup in its business practices, reports indicate that the company appears to be shifting its focus away from console game development in favor of other markets like mobile gaming, fitness centers, and pachinko machine manufacturing.
A Nikkei report, translated by Kotaku, alleges that Konami began to drastically change its internal practices following the release and unexpected success of its 2010 mobile game Dragon Collection. Since then, according to Nikkei, the company appeared to back away from console game development, dropping its number of yearly releases drastically and instead focusing on its mobile successes.
Noted director and creator of the Metal Gear series Hideo Kojima is believed to have left Konami earlier this year. The publisher has since struck Kojima’s name from the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and killed off a proposed Silent Hill series sequel that was to be developed in a collaboration between Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, The Devil’s Backbone).
The once-popular Silent Hill survival horror series has not seen a sequel since 2012’s Silent Hill Downpour, and Konami has not announced its future plans for the Castlevania franchise since the release of last year’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2.
In addition to its console game development business, Konami also has ties with the pachinko industry. The company has licensed several of its properties for themed slot machines, pachinko games, and “pachi-slot” units that combine elements from both games. Castlevania and Silent Hill are the latest properties to make the jump to pachinko machines as part of Konami’s recently reported shift in focus.
Publisher SNK suffered a similar decline in the early 2000s when it was acquired by gambling machine manufacturer Aruze, effectively ending support for SNK’s consoles and repurposing its properties for themed pachinko machines.