Hideo Kojima: The Kikizo Interview 2009

Catch-up with Konami's top creator to discuss reinvigorating Kojima Productions, fusion with western developers, rising costs, MGS Touch and, inevitably, Metal Gear Solid 5.

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You wait seven years to arrange an interview with Hideo Kojima, and then two come along at once! Well, pretty close, anyway - it's a mere eight months since our previous sit down with Kojima, so we feel ALMOST GUILTY that we managed to secure another chat with him just recently.

But secure him we did. And we didn't let him escape until he'd answered our questions about reinvigorating Kojima Productions, fusion with western developers, rising costs for game creators, Metal Gear Solid Touch, and of course, what's happening next.

Kikizo: Kojima-san, thanks for speaking with us again. You've said you are re-evaluating Kojima Productions this year based on your visits to Western studios - what have you taken away from these visits?

Kojima: There were a lot of surprises - the way the Western developers do things are so different! What I'm thinking now is, OK, we need to be a global studio. Kojima Productions has always been essentially Japanese, making our stuff in Japan and releasing it to the world. We've been doing it this way for more than ten years, and we've had total freedom in terms of what we wanted to do during that time. But now, I feel it's time to look outside of Japan. You know - what can we absorb, what can we copy from these Western developers? What kind of steps should we take as Kojima Productions to change for the better and remain a strong global studio? That's what we're thinking right now. We've always observed other studios within Konami, but I decided that we shouldn't just rely on that; we should take it one step further and look at studios outside of Konami, and perhaps identify areas where Kojima Productions lags behind its competitors, and rethink what we should do about it. So that was the whole purpose of the tour. But it's not just about the technical processes; it's also about how they're promoting their products, or how they manage within the team. All this we've tried to absorb and learn from.

Kikizo: I understand you were recently 'promoted' - can you tell us about this?

Kojima: You know, we've been asked this a lot - how do you guys know this? Even my wife didn't know! Basically, my role hasn't changed. I'll still be on top at Kojima Productions, and I'll be responsible for creating high-quality games to satisfy our users - please rest assured about that. I also mentioned I've been going around to other studios - that's one way we can make Kojima Productions a more global studio. The new role is that I have bit more responsibility to kind of extend the success that Kojima Productions has generated over to the other studios - so things like game engines, management skills, creation techniques - to all of the teams throughout Konami.

Kikizo: It's interesting to see how Silent Hill has become a Western-developed series - would you ever consider collaboration with a Western developer like this?

Kojima: I'm not sure when this will happen, but yes, I'm very interested. There are many development companies outside of Japan working with Konami, and I believe that they're all special in some way; they have their unique points, and if we were to team up with them I wouldn't dictate to them - "you should do things this way, use this color, change this..." - I'd have to really try to help them do what they do best as production studios. That's how I plan to do it in the future, and to give them freedom.

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