It’s been a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde kind of year for Konami. One one hand, they released Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom pain last month receiving universal appraise from both critics and consumers. MGSV is actually the fastest selling title in the series and for what it’s worth, the game has completely hooked me, a non-Metal Gear player. That should tell you something.
While things remain strong with Big Boss and his Diamond Dog crew, the same can’t be said for the company itself. The biggest news from this year comes from the company’s very public feud with legendary developer Hideo Kojima. Konami went as far as to not include him on their executive board, rebranded his studio and social media accounts, and for a time, also took his name off promotional materials. Things continued to escalate when Konami cancelled Silent Hills, a highly anticipated game collaboration between Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro.
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If that wasn’t bad enough, the company is rumored to be moving away from AAA games entirely, their Fox Engine overseer, Julien Merceron, recently quit, and Konami continues to monetize MGSV in strange ways.
Just recently, they announced an insurance policy that players could purchase for varying amounts of time which would protect virtual FOB bases when attacked by other players. For those who don’t know, players can opt to create Forward Operating Bases in Metal Gear Solid V. In addition to providing a number of bonuses to the player, these bases represent a PvP element where players can be attacked or attack other players to steal resources. Seeing some sort of opportunity…I guess…Konami added virtual insurance, letting players spend real money to essentially insure their FOB resources from other players stealing it. It basically makes a copy of everything so technically you won’t lose anything once a player pillages your base.
One thing to keep in mind here is that this mode is completely optional and is not a requirement to beat or enjoy the game in any way. By creating a FOB, you’re essentially acknowledging that this is an activity you’re ready and willing to participate in. Call me cold if you want but if you get attacked, and you will, it’s really your own fault. If you don’t want to lose things like this, then don’t participate in it. Virtual Insurance feels like a predatory move, kind of like taking advantage of an intentional mechanic. I just find this sort of DLC/microtransaction style so mind boggling.
That also got me trying to figure out why “DLC” like this would even be on the table at all. Rumors circulated a couple months back about Konami being unhappy with the length of time Kojima was taking to create MGSV along with the game’s budget which was quickly ballooning out of control. Considering that Kojima was paid a set sum of money either way, the pressure of meeting sales targets and projections like other studios didn’t apply to him. Kojima was instead more concerned with quality, constantly upgrading the Fox Engine and adding pain staking detail to the game. This lack of urgency obviously didn’t sit well with Konami.
Granted, we have no idea if this funding issue was true, but perhaps through all of the nickel and diming like microtransactions that have and are still being added to the game, this rumor is true after all. Microtransactions are a cheap and easy way for companies to make more money on a game so perhaps that is the end goal behind all of this. If the budget was blown out of the water, this tactic would be the safest and quickest way to gain that money back.
Then again, this could also be a case of Konami just trying to capitalize on Metal Gear Solid V’s incredible success so far.
What do you think of this “virtual insurance” addition? It’s pretty crazy where games and their DLC have ended up these days from where we started. Is it just me or is this practice starting to get out of control?