Gamers who have been enjoying videogames since the 1980s might know enough regarding the story about Japanese developer Konami. In the age of Nintendo’s Famicom/NES they shot to prominence with some memorable game franchises: “Contra,” “Castlevania,” and “Metal Gear” for instance. As videogame consoles evolved their offerings evolved similarly: “Suikoden” and “Dance Dance Revolution” are prime examples of their next-gen works. But going into the 2010s Konami’s gaming division has grown increasingly quiet, its former franchises either being repurposed for mobile gaming or quietly canceled. By the time the company turned 50 in 2019 they were non-entities in electronic entertainment. Then a Monday announcement seemed to close that chapter permanently.
At least that would be the initial reading of Konami Holdings Co. and its statement to investors on January 25 regarding an internal restructuring of its company that will “close” its videogame production divisions effective February 1. But as gaming news site IGN would have it that is not really the end of Konami as a game-maker. A company representative issued a clarification on the announcement, explaining that Konami’s “Production Divisions 1-3” are being consolidated (after dissolution). Said course of action was decided by higher-ups as a response to rapid shifts in the videogame market.
Doom-and-gloom interpretations of Konami’s gaming-related decisions have been the trend, especially as the fact remains that they are not releasing lots of new game titles anymore. But even that perception is not quite accurate. Their “Pro Evolution Soccer” sports franchise is still on, with the latest entry, “eFootball PES 2020” releasing in 2019 with a “PES 2021” season update following just last year. Then of course it has its dancing arcade games and its “Yu-Gi-Oh!” card game franchise. Furthermore, the heads of the soon-to-close Production Divisions are moving to departmental leadership in Konami’s general production.
If there is any indication that Konami has not thrown the towel yet in making videogames, that would be the 2020 establishment of a third-party publishing division in the West. Also last year, they released their dedicated home-console revival of NEC’s game system the TurboGraphx-16 Mini (PC Engine Mini in Japan) during the COVID outbreak. And they are also known to be working on “PES 2022” for next-gen consoles, which will employ the Unreal Engine for graphics. So Konami is still here, for the moment.
Image courtesy of CG Magazine