Hideo Kojima wants people to know that he is a resolutely independent video game developer. That is, not only his studio has “no relationship with anyone”, but also “every day”. Death Stranding Author rejects buyout offers from other companies.
“Some of the offers are ridiculously high prices,” Kojima said in his latest edition of Brain Structure, a podcast available through Spotify. (For the record, Kojima speaks in Japanese, with an English overdub). “But not that I want money. I want to make what I want to make. That’s why I created this studio.”
Kojima hosts the podcast, and his guest this week was his good friend Geoff Keighley, himself the host of the Game Awards – so Kojima, ostensibly, is leading the discussion. (Disclosure: Kojima is a member of the Game Awards Advisory Board.)
However, Keighley quickly took on the role of interviewer, asking Kojima about the latest developments in the game industry. “There are so many rumors about games, especially on social media, and I thought maybe we would talk about some of the rumors that are out there, and some of the truth behind the rumors,” Keighley said.
The two then engaged in a lengthy discussion of sound culture, entertainment products and social media. After mentioning this summer’s announcement that Kojima was working on a game for Microsoft Xbox Game Studios, Keighley brought up Kojima’s already close working relationship with PlayStation and Sony Interactive Entertainment (Death Stranding was, and still is, a PlayStation console exclusive), and whether he has made commitments to one console manufacturer or the other over the years.
“I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding about Kojima Productions,” he said. “I created this company in 2015 after leaving Konami. It was 100% out of my pocket. No funding from anyone. So, we are independent.”
Kojima acknowledged that his studio’s actual, physical proximity to both Sony’s worldwide headquarters (in Shibuya, Tokyo), as well as Sony Interactive Entertainment’s HQ, means “people tend to think we’re part of Sony.” But as this summer’s announcement about Microsoft indicates, “We’re indies. We have no affiliations, and we’re not backed by anyone. […] And every day, I am approached by offers from all over the world to buy our studio.
“Some of the offers are ridiculously high prices, but it’s not like I want the money,” Kojima said. “I want to make what I want to make. That’s why I created this studio.”
In other words, for those expecting Kojima Productions (and mascot Ludens) to be the last big-name acquisition in a year with them, don’t hold your breath. “As long as I’m alive, I don’t think I’ll ever accept those offers,” Kojima said.
One assumes that Kojima’s attitude comes from how his tenure with Konami ended in 2015, when the publisher abandoned him and his ideas in favor of making pachinko machines and burning Pro Evolution Soccer to the ground.
But Kojima also speaks as an artist (of 35 years and counting, in this medium) who understands creative capital and how much he has earned.