UPDATE: Nikkei has released an official English translation of the article.
Nikkei, a Japanese financial newspaper, recently published an article that delves into the struggles and horrible working conditions of employees at Konami. Basically, it is not pretty, and if anything, Hideo Kojima’s rumored departure can only be seen as a good thing.
The article is entirely in Japanese, and the website requires a subscription to fully access it, but volunteer translators have been working on the article and released some highlights this morning through NeoGAF. Additional translations are available at GamesIndustry.biz and Kotaku.
A number of anonymous employees spoke to Nikkei about life at Konami, describing a prison-like environment. Employees who are deemed “useless” are either sent to the assembly line to work on pachinko machines, or are reassigned to become security officers. Some are even forced to clean up the gym located in Konami’s headquarters. And this punishment isn’t just limited to low-level workers, producers and other prominent creators have also had this type of grunt work hoisted on them.
Lunch breaks are said to be regulated via time cards, and any employee who runs late is “outed” from the company. Konami’s employees are also said to be under heavy surveillance at all times. Even Solid Snake himself couldn’t dodge all the security cameras and punch clocks that line the company’s halls.
All these measures allegedly stem from the success Konami had with a mobile game known as Dragon Collection, which has made far more money and was much cheaper to develop than any console game the company produced in years. This news is certainly in line with Konami’s recent attitude, which has led to the cancellation of the majority of their console projects, including Silent Hills.
Nikkei’s report also states that, as of April 2015, Konami had spent $80 million on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Coupled with the publisher’s desire to move towards mobile games, this astronomical budget likely had something to do with Konami’s rift with Kojima.
Konami has already stated they plan on continuing with the Metal Gear series, as well as Pro Evolution Soccer, but beyond that, much of the company’s plans remain a mystery.