HK 1

Famed Metal Gear director calls Japanese creators “strange” for spending so much time and money on their finales.

Now that he’s left video game publisher Konami and become his own boss, Metal Gear director Hideo Kojima is enjoying his new freedom in being as outspoken as he wants to be with his opinions. As one of the most globally respected Japanese game designers, Kojima has shown plenty of enthusiasm for teaming up with with overseas creators, but his own sensibilities may not be completely internationalized, judging from comments he recently made.

In an interview with Japanese website Comic Natalie, Kojima spoke about some of the differences between the Japanese and Western video game markets, as well as the gamers that play in them, and had this bold statement to make:

“Overseas, they say the last scene is the least necessary part of the game.”

Kojima can see some logic behind the sentiment, as obviously any number of people will purchase and start playing the game, yet quit before reaching the end. What’s more, he says that foreign game creators understand and accept this fact, and thus choose to pour their efforts and resources into the opening stages of a game, which they can be sure of every player experiencing. As a result, the game’s ending is more of an afterthought, and Kojima expresses his belief that foreign titles will often have their endings severely truncated if the budget or schedule is too tight for the creator’s original vision.

Taking this into consideration, Kojima muses that “It’s strange that Japanese creators put so much money into their final scenes.”

He even goes so far as to say that foreign gamers aren’t bothered by this phenomena. That theory fits with the greater preference foreign gamers have shown (compared to their Japanese counterparts) for open-world titles and complete character customization, which allows them to imagine themselves as independent individuals within the game’s setting and thus reduces the satisfaction that comes from a scripted ending sequence.

Kojima does point out one exception to foreign gamers’ blasé attitudes regarding video game conclusions, though: His own titles. “When I don’t make a great ending, people get mad at me,” he notes, lamenting the difficulties in making a game that’s so strongly connected with a single creator and his personal style.

HK 2

Long-time gamers may find a lot of irony within Kojima’s words. His most recent title, Metal Gear Solid V, received widespread praise for its scale, gameplay, and visuals, but also drew complaints for what many felt was a lackluster narrative and disappointing ending. What’s more, many would argue that the first third of Metal Gear Solid 2, another Kojima game, was vastly superior in terms of polish and fun than the several hours that came after, including the ending. As a matter of fact, players could unlock the option to replay the opening segment all by itself and skip the rest of the game.

Still, as someone who’s not typically known for turning in half-efforts, Kojima sounds at least a little facetious when he calls Japanese directors “strange” for wanting to craft impressive endings, especially when he goes on to talk about his distaste for trying too hard to give gamers instant gratification. Instead, he asserts that there’s a unique enjoyment to be felt when the creator surprises players with something different from what they were asking for. In light of his abrupt departure from Konami after decades with the company, it’s hard not to take some of Kojima’s words as thinly veiled potshots at his former employers who perhaps told him to hurry up and release Metal Gear V already instead of tinkering around with its ending visuals and script.

But of course, now that he’s got his own studio, Kojima can wrap up his games however he wants.

Source: Comic Natalie via Jin
Top image: Konami
Insert images: Konami