ByMarcus O'Shea, writer at Creators.co
Resident RPG nerd and SoulsBorne fanatic. Can be spotted by their floofy hair.
Marcus O'Shea

Kojima's split from Konami over borderline abusive working conditions was the big news of games in 2016. With the controversial Auteur freed from his Sisyphean task of generating continual content, fans were waiting with baited breath to hear what he'd do next. A few months later, we found out.

formed a new game studio, Kojima Productions, which is already hard at work on the mysterious , a game with such cryptic trailers that the world of is abuzz with speculation and conspiracy theories.

Kojima Is Poaching Top Talent From Konami, And Normally He Wouldn't Be Able To

It's unknown if Kojima used the Fulton recovery system to poach his talent [Credit: Konami]
It's unknown if Kojima used the Fulton recovery system to poach his talent [Credit: Konami]

Kojima forming his own studio so soon after his split with Konami was a slightly odd development for anyone who knows the world of game studio employment contracts. High-level employees are almost always bound by non-compete clauses, which prevent them from opening their own competing businesses while employed, and for a sizable period after.

Someone at Konami, possibly convinced that Kojima would never escape the dungeon office they'd chained him up in, apparently forgot a few vital clauses in his contract, because Kojima has also poached some of the top talent from Konami to work with him on Death Stranding and future projects.

So Who Did He Get?

Yoji Shinkawa is responsible for the iconic style of the concept art in MGS [Credit: Konami]
Yoji Shinkawa is responsible for the iconic style of the concept art in MGS [Credit: Konami]

Among the more notable names are:

  • Yoji Shinkawa, responsible for much of the iconic concept art for the Metal Gear Solid series.
  • Ken-Ishiro Imaizumi, former producer for the MGS series who also worked on .
  • Shinji Hirano, former president of Konami's entire European division, who has been named the new president of Kojima Productions.
  • Akio Sakamoto, the brains behind the FOX engine which powered the latest entries into the MGS series.
  • Chihoko Uchiyama, Senior character designer at Konami, who worked closely with Yoji Shinkawa to adapt his designs into 3D.
  • Yasuhiro Kawakami, Cinematic Artist who worked on multiple Konami projects.
  • Masaki Saito, Game Designer who worked with Kojima previously
  • Jackie Tan, Another Konami Game Designer.

If rumors that Junji Ito may also be working with the project are true, it appears as though Kojima may be assembling and Ocean's 11-style dream team to head up Death Stranding.

Why This Is Good News For Games

Kojima's team is already pushing the Decima engine to new limits [Credit: Kojima Productions]
Kojima's team is already pushing the Decima engine to new limits [Credit: Kojima Productions]

There's an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. For video games, the concept is similar. You can have all the visionary auteurs you want, but without a talented team behind them and the ability to work together, you'll end up with an overambitious, sloppy mess.

Kojima's immensely talented team, presumably lured away by a combination of a great working relationship with Kojima and a promise that they'll never have to work on a mobile game or Pachinko machine again, bode great things for Death Stranding. Not only that, but Kojima seems to understand that a stable, happy team is the key to a good studio, which means we can look forward to a lot of excellent future projects. It's good to see the incredible talent that was being wasted at Konami given a new chance to flex their skills. I'm especially looking forward to what Sakamoto can do with the Decima engine.

Are you excited about Death Stranding? Do you think it's a good or bad thing that Kojima managed to swipe top talent from Konami? Let me know in the comments.

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