Legendary video game designer Hideo Kojima is done with big studios

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Few figures in gaming have made a more sensationalized break from the mainstream industry than Japanese auteur Hideo Kojima. Best known for his long-running Metal Gear Solid series of action/stealth games, Kojima’s contentious departure from franchise publisher Konami at the end of Metal Gear Solid V‘s development was one of the most widely covered bits of industry gossip in the medium’s history. It should come as little surprise then that Kojima’s opinion of big studios has soured somewhat, and in a recent roundtable discussion with Gamereactor, he made clear his intention to keep his new independent studio to a more manageable size.

“I’m aiming to keep the staff less than 100 people,” Kojima explained. In contrast, his team for MGSV numbered significantly more than 200. His stated reason for wanting to limit the studio’s size is communication. He alluded to huge, Hollywood productions where more than 1,000 people can work on the same film, which can end up muddling the final product because not everyone is able to be on the same page. With a team of 100, Kojima can have direct lines of communication with everyone working under him and maintain a coherent vision for the project, which is particularly important for an auteur designer such as himself.

During the discussion, he mentioned that as he is assembling developers and technology, he is also touring other studios around the world “to get inspiration about what kind of studio [he wants] to make/create.” He quipped about a visit to Swedish Battlefield series developer Dice: “I’ve found that at any studio the kitchen is very important… I saw at Dice in Stockholm they had 40 microwaves, and also there’s so many coffee makers, and I understood that that is very important.”

As for what that new studio will be making, we don’t currently have much to go on. Soon after formally announcing his departure from Konami, he announced that his new studio, Kojima Productions — not to be confused with his defunct Konami-owned studio, also called Kojima Productions — had lined up an exclusive agreement with Sony to launch a brand new franchise on the PlayStation 4. PlayStation consoles were home to the Metal Gear Solid games for a long time, so Sony was no doubt eager to stake a claim to whatever Kojima did as soon as it was contractually feasible.

Despite a fraught development process and what felt like an unfinished second act, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a stunning testament to Kojima’s decades as a designer, and easily one of the best games of 2015. We therefore can’t wait to learn more about what he has in store for us next.

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