Is Mobile All-Bad For Konami (And Metal Gear)?

Konami sees profit growth of 160

I guess you can call this a “devil’s advocate” post regarding Konami’s shift as of late. I’m about as disappointed as anyone else hearing how Hideo Kojima has left and how the company has decided to prioritize mobile and pachinko games. On one level though Iv’e chosen to think practically about it, and on another level recent reports few are talking about cast Konami’s turn in a positive light.

Konami’s year-over-year profit in the latest quarterly report is up 160%. The report pins this on good performance of some of its mobile games. I have to clarify I only really know what’s in this report — this quarter’s financials and how it compares to a year ago. I don’t know how this compares to, say, the PS1 or PS2 era when Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania were probably a bigger part of the company. Still, this shows Konami’s recent moves aren’t idiotic from a business standpoint. Maybe these new profits are only short-term and Konami’s selling itself out in the long term. I couldn’t tell you.

What is apparent though is this is becoming the current of change for most big Japanese game companies. I think pachinko has been a significant part of SEGA for a long time. Another recent occurrence is SNK’s majority stake buyout by a Chinese game company. What I’m trying to say is, we should stop acting like the relative few console and portable games that get localized for the west form the entirety of the important business that makes up the Japanese publishers people love so much. The experiences Americans and Europeans had with these games during the 80’s and 90’s don’t tell the whole picture.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the inevitable reinterpretation of Konami’s franchises as mobile games, Metal Gear included. Metal Gear fans are probably horrified at this prospect right now, but I don’t think it’s impossible to make the idea work without looking stupid.

We already have the companion app for Ground Zeroes which is a really good idea if you ask me — let the player control the iDroid (which handles the map and tape cassettes) outside of the game. I think Konami already announced The Phantom Pain will have a similar app. I could also see some kind of functionality in that app or another app  for handling all the management of Mother Base. Maybe they could add some functionality to Mother Base management you can do while away from the game, including the microtransactions we already know are in Phantom Pain (the earnings report mentions mobile microtransactions as a reason for the increased profits too).

As for an independent mobile Metal Gear game, I’ve already seen one example of a baseline structure that could work — Metal Gear Ac!d. I have not actually played Ac!d, but I know it’s a turn-based strategy game, and turn-based games match up much better with touchscreens than real time action games. I wouldn’t mind if Konami either ported the PSP Ac!d games or designed a new one around touch controls. Better yet, the game is based around collecting cards I believe, which could somehow play into a freemium scheme. Why not combine all that with the Mother Base stuff?

I’m just throwing ideas out, trying to prove it’s possible to make a respectable mobile game out of something like Metal Gear. Why not Suikoden (which I have also not played)? Mobile itself isn’t bad, it just depends on how much you trust companies like Konami to do it right.

BULLETS:

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