Konami: A Betrayal or a New Leaf?

By the Last Token Gaming Staff

Isaac: Mobile games are the future. There, I said it. I’m sorry if it made you cringe or throw things at the screen or call me bad things. Now, I’m going to spend the rest of this argument clarifying exactly what I mean and why I believe it.

Consoles are on their way out. I wrote a post about it here, many moons ago, saying that indie games are the future. There’s still strong evidence to support that, too, but if we’re just looking at a common sense approach to technology and how it’s used today, we can see the issue: EVERYBODY has a smart phone. Nearly an equal percentage of people have smart phones and computers, which, outside of poverty-level areas, is damn near everybody. In terms of dollars and cents, if you want to develop for a platform, mobile is the way to go. You’re reaching the largest number of people.

Like it or not, the masses are immersed in technology to an extent that gaming has to accommodate.

Like it or not, the masses are immersed in technology to an extent that gaming has to accommodate.

So Konami’s decision makes sense. “Of course it does, those *%&#* sellouts,” you shout incoherently into the computer screen (as I did in a knee-jerk reaction to their announcement). But there’s something we as gamers simply refuse to accept about the mobile platform: the potential for really good games exists on smartphones and tablets. Period. Has that potential been taken advantage of? Absolutely not. The current culture of social media, MMOs, freemium games and microtransactions has set the average price of mobile games to a ridiculously small number, and made it apparent they’re worth about that much.

But the potential is there nonetheless. Even with its limited control scheme, you can create pretty awesome games. You can create immersive games, games with stories, games with amazing art, games with great replay value, and games that don’t make the user hate the developer with every fiber of their being (while their credit card simultaneously disintegrates into a pile of molten plastic and broken dreams). Nobody’s DOING it, but they COULD. And so far, Konami hasn’t committed too many egregious acts of mistrust (like EA, ahem ahem), so I still have a bit of faith in them as to their ability to make good games for the mobile platform.

It’s more than that, though: Konami is probably also not run by mindless greed automatons (hopefully). Anybody with eyes can see the impressive rack of Golden Poo Awards that EA has garnered over the years. Konami doesn’t want to beat them out next year (or Comcast, who has set the bar either ridiculously high or low, depending on your perspective), and the switch to mobile gaming has already put them on thin ice with frothy-mouthed gamers like myself. So they’ve got to have a trick up their sleeve. Konami doesn’t stand as good of a chance of surviving the PR shitstorm that EA endures, and the “Evil but successful” mantle doesn’t look good on them.

Change it to "Ruin Everything" and you're on point.

Change it to “Ruin Everything” and you’re on point.

So instead of shaking your fist in impotent anger as the ne’er-do-well leaves your team for the enemy, instead consider the possibility that Konami could be just the company to defeat the mobile gaming catastrophe from within.

Marshall: Let me just start by saying that I don’t hate mobile games in and of themselves. I don’t play any of them, but as detailed at the end of this hilarious Honest Trailer of Clash of Clans, there are plenty of honestly good mobile games that aren’t time-wasting, cash-sucking scams. What I hate is the commercialization of mobile games. As in, they’re being advertised and proliferated in a way that’s downright inescapable. (When Terry and I were at our hotel room for Wrestlemania a couple months ago, I swear every other ad on TV was for a mobile game.) The worst offender in this trend is Game of War, whose content I know next to nothing about as all of its ads have you focused more on Kate Upton’s chest than the actual gameplay.

"Hey there, mouth-breathing gamer males! You're just a bunch of drooling troglodytes who think with their penises and have no discerning taste in games. So here's Kate Upton's boobies! BUY OUR SHITTY GAME!"

“Hey there, mouth-breathing gamer males! You’re just a bunch of drooling troglodytes who think with their penises and have no discerning taste in games. So here’s Kate Upton’s boobies! BUY OUR SHITTY GAME!”

Not to mention, Konami isn’t the first major gaming company to start emphasizing mobiles. Nintendo is making its foray into the market, while Sega has shifted its focus to mobile and PC games as part of its recent downsizing plan. Let me be clear: What really makes me angry is when you juxtapose this mobile games announcement with what Konami’s cancellation ofSilent Hills. Keep in mind, we were getting a horror blockbuster from Hideo Kojima, Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus, whose playable teaser indicated would be an exceptional survival horror title unlike any other. If you recall, both Terry and myself had much praise for P.T. when we reviewed it last year.

But that’s not the worst of it. Konami canceling Silent Hills, while unfortunate, admittedly isn’t the first time an anticipated game has been axed. But the thing is, the company isn’t just canceling the game. As this outstanding piece said perfectly, Konami is committing outright artistic murder. They’re going to great lengths to remove any trace of P.T., not just by removing it from the PlayStation 4 online store, but by wiping it clean from Sony’s servers. Not to mention, eBay has even cracked down on auctions of PS4’s with the game on it. All of that to destroy and snuff out every last semblance of a potential masterpiece…for mobile games?

Seriously, who needs a cerebral work of art when you can just play Candy Crush? Right? Right????

Seriously, who needs a cerebral work of art when you can just play Candy Crush? Right? Right????

At the end of the day, as Isaac said above, Konami making mobile games in and of itself can be a good thing. Knowing the incredible pedigree they brought to console games with franchises like Metal Gear Solid and, well, Silent Hill, they could very well take mobiles to an incredible new level as well. But in the wake of Hideo Kojima’s exit from the company, and now the sleazy evisceration of an anticipated title from a beloved Konami franchise, the announcement of this emphasis just feels like a slap in the face.

Terry: I hate to admit it, but Isaac is right; mobile gaming is becoming a major relevant avenue for gaming. With franchises like Angry Birds, Puzzles & Dragons and Clash of Clans showing people love games that are “time-wasters” (another discussion for later). Or, if they want to be able to play classics they grew to love as a kid, emulators are a viable way to play them on the road. It’s both terrifying and exciting to see this increase in “casual gaming”.

Konami, much as I hate it, is making a smart, economical decision that allows them to regain relevance amidst the chaos. Like a phoenix, they’re shedding their skin comprised of Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania and going to an area that has vast potential for major profit. Especially with sales increasingly dwindling down with their major franchises, they need to make a move fast to keep from drowning.

Is it a move fans love? No, it leaves many of us angry, vindictive and frustrated. Is Konami making a smart, economical decision? Unfortunately yes.

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