So, for a while there, Konami was absolutely despised in the game industry – for several reasons.
The developer that brought us a number of iconic series such as Castlevania, Contra and so many others was taking a serious amount of missteps over the years. We’ve heard horror stories about Hideo Kojima’s treatment during the development of Metal Gear Solid V, to the point that he left to form his own studio afterwards. And then, of course, there’s the treatment of the company’s franchises themselves, with Silent Hill’s latest release, at one point, being nothing more than a glorified pachinko machine.
Hell, at one point in time, Konami’s booth at an E3 event was nothing more than a small grassy area with a little house running videos of its upcoming games. A far cry from several years prior, when Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty dominated the show without actually being at the show.
But here we are, several years later, and we’re seeing a resurgence. Gone are the politics and – for now – the pachinko machines, and in its place, we’re starting to get more and more announcements about games we actually want. Konami seems to be on a slight turnaround, but can it continue?
Recognizing the Classics
After suffering for several years and losing the likes of Hideo Kojima and its much-ballyhooed Silent Hills project (as well as deleting P.T. to the point that it didn’t even exist), someone at Konami apparently decided to flip the switch and we started to see signs of life.
While Contra: Rogue Corps didn’t exactly do the company favors (though it was still a mostly fun endeavor), it’s when the company started to pay attention to its classics that it began to show love again. This included working alongside M2 for devoted collections based on its several arcade classics, as well as Castlevania and Contra.
The collections scored huge points with fans, and the company decided to keep that momentum going. It licensed out its Castlevania franchise for a huge anime series on Netflix that lasted four seasons and truly won the fans over; and it began to push its marketing in a new direction, where it was listening to them before. In addition, Limited Run Games announced physical editions, which are selling just as well as the digital ones.
Even through licensing, the company scored hits. It worked alongside Hamster on an Arcade Archives release of a couple of its games, the most noteworthy being fan favorite Sunsetriders.
It continues to be a stellar bargain for a mere $8, and finally gives the game its first amount of due since the SNES/Sega Genesis days.
Then we hit a true turning point in 2022.
Bringing Back the Hits
In the midst of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge coming from Tribute Games, Konami opted to make a deal with Nickelodeon to bring back several classic TMNT games for
fans to enjoy, from the NES original to the 16-bit titles. As a result, The Cowabunga Collection was born and scored tremendously well with fans (and us!), and continues to sell well to this day. Plus, the company gave it tremendous marketing, including a nostalgic San Diego Comic-Con booth complete with an appearance from franchise co-founder Kevin Eastman!
Then the hammer really fell earlier this month, when the company announced several Silent Hill games to come in 2023, including a full-blown remaster of Silent Hill 2 from Bloober Team. This got several people excited, as the company was finally giving it its due, instead of just sticking it on a pachinko machine and calling it good.
The company also confirmed the return of Suikoden with a number of remasters for a collection, which is sure to be a dynamic release for those that have been long-awaiting its return. About time, really.
That said, not everything hit like lightning in 2022. The company tried to relaunch its soccer franchise with eFootball 2023, but the free-to-play format threw a lot of people off. Still, it’s looking into options and could bounce back. Hopefully.
What’s Left For 2023?
Man. There’s still two months left in 2022 and there’s so much that could happen. A report indicates that a remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is in the works for the new year, and that would be a sweet spot for fans.
But what’s left to give 2023 some momentum for Konami? Quite a bit, actually. It has so many franchises it can revisit, including Gradius, Rocket Knight and even Suikoden, which could always use a new chapter. It just seems like it’s been trying to win over fans with some much- needed momentum, caring about them again and reintroducing a number of classics they missed out on, along with remaster announcements that have the industry buzzing again.
Whatever they do, I wish them the best of luck. They still have a ways to go to be a true power player in the industry, but damn, they are getting there.
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