Hideo Kojima poured his blood sweat and tears into the Metal Gear franchise for most of his working life. It was his baby. I can’t imagine anything worse than losing the rights to your baby and having it adapted into a zombie game. Kojima is far from the only employee to be hurt by Konami. Following a wave of controversy, Metal Gear Survive released about a week ago. Konami seemingly encouraged delays in reviews following the game’s release. Typically, this is a telltale sign that the game is mediocre, or undergone some troubling development. Lo and behold, the game currently has a 63 Metacritic score and 1.5 user score respectively.
The Metal Gear games are my favorite of all time. They’re the perfect balance of cinematic flair and anime-like storytelling. Yet, I had no interest in Metal Gear Survive’s release. With Hideo Kojima gone, and a story based on zombies-many feel the same as I do. However, my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know what the new developers did with my most beloved IP. More importantly, I wanted to analyze what exactly went wrong. Here’ll I’ll outline my opinion on why Metal Gear Survive seemed necessary to developers, and why it was such a slap in the face for fans.
So what did go wrong? Zombies. Need I say more? We’ve had an overabundance of zombie games since 2008. They were popular in 2008, whereas by now it is reminiscent of the overabundance of WWII games of days past. I stress the importance of variety in the gaming industry. Things should be different, and zombies are over. The fad is as lifeless as the zombies within it. So let’s move on from it. The Walking Dead just wrapped up its least-watched season. People are no longer interested in consuming culture focused around the undead. A few outliers in the zombies’ realm will remain popular for years to come (The Last of Us Part II), but introducing a new game about zombies isn’t an effective strategy in establishing or pleasing a fan base previously bogged down by zombies.
In addition to this, the newly introduced idea doesn’t fit thematically with what the Metal Gear franchise stands for. Kojima said “The Metal Gear games are about political fiction and espionage,” he continued. “Where do zombies fit in with that?” It seems he is very much in touch with his fan’s as most would ask themselves the same question.
More disheartening, however, was Konami’s strategy in regards to this IP. It seems they attempted a cash grab regarding the Metal Gear franchise. “Metal Gear 5 did gangbusters, so let’s slap a Metal Gear name on this new zombies’ game.” However, this tactic worked against Konami. The only people who would opt to purchase this game lost their association with the franchise along with Kojima. Long-time Metal Gear fans won’t purchase a game based solely on the name without a thematic parallel or previous director.
In addition to this, new fans won’t be enticed to purchase the game either as it’s a new IP to them. No one wins with this zombie-heavy debut in the franchise.
I almost forgot to mention the microtransaction business model of Metal Gear Survive. The game’s retail is $40 USD. Most new game’s price sits at $60 USD. Konami attempts to make back the revenue lost from the discounted price through the game’s microtransaction infrastructure. The in-game purchases allow a player to receive stat-boosts, or give the player a new save slot. The player must pay for an additional save slot… Following Star Wars: Battlefront II’s controversy, this was not a very consumer-friendly idea for Konami.
Can Love Bloom on the Battlefield?
Trust from consumers is perhaps the most important aspect of selling a game. Following Kojima’s departure, many long-time fans distrusted Konami. Konami’s most necessary course of action lies in reestablishing said trust. Although the brain-child of the Metal Gear was gone, no company will ever allow a hugely popular IP to lay dormant. As much as we don’t want to believe, the Metal Gear IP will live on without Kojima until it no longer sees revenue.
So why not remaster every Metal Gear Solid game? Now, hear me out. Had Konami gone this route fans would have been interested regardless of Kojima’s absence. A remastered Metal Gear Solid would be too enticing for fans to pass up.
Developers could have potentially remastered each game annually or biennially using the fox engine present in hugely popular Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Going this route would have established trust from long-time fans, and it would have introduced prospective new fans to a franchise possibly too intimating previously to visit. Yet it seems Konami’s interest lies in remastering the games’ cutscenes for their Pachinko machines.
Regardless, look at Crash Bandicoot. The game served as a remastered PlayStation collection, and it was received extremely well both critically and commercially. The potential of Metal Gear Solid remastered would be huge. Following years of revenue established from these remasters, Konami could then announce a brand-new Metal Gear game in line thematically with the others. This new game should be a spin-off similar to Survive, but it should respect Kojima’s groundwork. It could be a spin-off of a previously unexplored character much in the same vein as Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Or it could borrow from Survive’s story and take place in some alternate timeline. Thus it wouldn’t step on the toes of the original games. Some fans would still be upset, but not nearly as upset as they were with Metal Gear Survive’s release.
That Takes Care of the Cremation
Gameplay is the most important aspect of any game. I opted not to discuss the gameplay elements of Metal Gear Survive because the gameplay is subjective to many. I wanted to remain as objective as possible in this analysis. Although, my biases were apparent in many parts, had I talked about the gameplay-it would have been difficult not to completely fly off the handle.
All things considered, I don’t wish ill will on the Metal Gear franchise. Konami will continue to release games under the Metal Gear moniker, and I wish the IP well. I want to be excited about a Metal Gear game, and although I wish more than anything Kojima was working on it, I will come to terms with Metal Gear’s new future. Konami will learn by gauging fan’s reactions.