The reputation of Japanese game publisher/developer Konami has taken a very big hit in recent years. It's down in no small part to the treatment of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, who left to form Kojima Productions and work with Sony. But the company also changed focus away from traditional games development to work on mobile platforms. Now there's evidence Konami is retaliating against former employees.
The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that Konami is actively blocking "ex-Kons" from securing new employment and health care. The reason seems to stem back to, you guessed it, Hideo Kojima. More specifically, a talk he appeared at in September 2016 with Sony at the Tokyo Game Show. By then he had left Konami and when asked about the next Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Survive, he responded by saying, "That has nothing to do with me" with a wry smile.
Konami was far from happy with this comment and sent a letter to Kojima stating he was "unfairly discrediting the company." And it is becoming clear Konami isn't willing to let this spat end.
There's unconfirmed reports Konami is not paying Kojima the money he is owed by the company. A Konami director is also thought to have blocked Kojima Productions' application to join ITS Kenpo, which is a health insurance society. Kojima's company needs a health insurance provider for its employees. However, the chairman of ITS Kenpo also happens to be a Konami director, so it didn't happen.
Employment agencies in Japan are actively telling the companies they deal with if a developer used to work for Konami. This is because Konami spends time sending complaints to any gaming company offering former Konami employees work. There have also been reports this practice extends beyond the games industry, showing you the reach some directors at Konami have.
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There is clearly a lot of anger within Konami directed at those who choose to leave. At the same time, staying at the company doesn't sound as if it is very pleasant. Lunch breaks are strictly limited, social media activity is monitored for every employee, and access to email is strictly limited. And yet, the company is expected to make record profits over the next financial year thanks to its shift to mobile gaming.
Clearly the old Konami many of us grew up with is dead, but Konami the company is thriving and therefore it seems unlikely the targeting of former employees will end.
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