You might think a major new game in the long-running “Metal Gear” franchise would elicit a ton of hype.
The last major “Metal Gear” game, “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain,” was a blockbuster phenomenon – just like every major “Metal Gear” release before it.
But things are quite the contrary in the case of “Metal Gear Survive,” the latest major “Metal Gear” game.
Though I personally enjoyed the game, much of the talk surrounding it has been focused on “Metal Gear” franchise creator Hideo Kojima, who either left Konami or was forced out of the company, depending on who you ask. Is he or isn’t he officially thanked in the game’s credits? Does this image from the game contain a secret message from employees loyal to Kojima?
So, what in the world is going on with “Metal Gear Survive”? Here’s the deal:
First and foremost: What is “Metal Gear Survive”?
“Metal Gear Survive” is a super, super weird game.
It’s set in the same timeline as the last major “Metal Gear” game, “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.” But instead of continuing that game’s story, it branches into an alternate, paranormal version of events.
The game’s main character – one you’ve moulded in the game’s character creation tool, and named something silly – is one of dozens of random soldiers involved in a paranormal incident. A wormhole in the sky opens over the base you’re stationed at, and you’re swept into an alternate dimension: a bizarro version of Earth named “Dite” (dee-tay) that’s full of horrific, zombie-like creatures.
And thus your journey begins: You’re a soldier trying to survive in a parallel dimension that’s full of zombies.
“Metal Gear” is a franchise with seriously passionate, loyal fans. And those fans are <em>mad as hell</em> that franchise creator and longtime director Hideo Kojima left/was forced out of his role at Japanese game company Konami.
Since “Survive” is the first “Metal Gear” game without Kojima, fans of the series and of Kojima himself are looking at “Metal Gear Survive” with extra scrutiny. And so is Kojima himself.
When asked about the game, Kojima noted that he had nothing to do with its creation.
“That’s nothing to do with me,” he told an audience at the 2016 Tokyo Game Show, reports IGN. “The ‘Metal Gear’ games are about political fiction and espionage. Where do zombies fit in with that?”
Since Kojima is so deeply entwined with the “Metal Gear” franchise, many fans see “Metal Gear Survive” as a trick of sorts from the game’s publisher, Konami – slapping the “Metal Gear” name on something that isn’t truly a “Metal Gear” game (whatever that means).
Kojima was treated terribly by Konami, according to reports.
It’s not clear exactly what caused the rift between Konami and Kojima – Kojima worked at the Japanese game publisher for over 20 years – but it’s resulted in some seriously scorched earth.
The origin of the issues apparently goes all the way back to 2010, according to Nikkei, when a Konami game named “Dragon Collection” became a hit. The game was big in the mobile game market, and Konami reportedly had a strong reaction to seeing a game earn loads of cash that cost little to make.
As the company’s corporate overlords shifted interest toward mobile and social games – games that often cost little to make and can reap massive profits – Konami began looking more shrewdly at its division that made massive, expensive, blockbuster games: specifically, Kojima Productions.
To put an even finer point on it, Kojima is known for being an auteur. His games are routinely delayed while he labors over every detail. This, among other things, leads to his games often costing tens of millions of dollars to make. Though they’re often wildly successful, the production process is a scary and risky one.
But, instead of firing Kojima and moving toward mobile development, Konami reportedly instituted bizarre oversight methods to Kojima’s production team. Those methods reportedly included cutting off the internet and installing cameras to watch staffers closely. Since Kojima’s fans are so loyal, Konami has become a villain in the ongoing controversy.
But isn’t “Metal Gear Survive” a spinoff game? Yes, yes it is.
The first “Metal Gear Solid” game debuted on the PlayStation 1, way back in 1998 – 20 years ago! Before that, “Metal Gear” games go all the way back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Like “Super Mario” and “Donkey Kong” and “The Legend of Zelda,” the “Metal Gear” franchise is a classic.
For the vast majority of that history, Hideo Kojima has acted as the director of each new entry.
But in many cases, he acted as a producer or something a bit less hands-on. There were the portable “Metal Gear Acid” games, for instance, where Kojima oversaw production but didn’t write or direct the games.
But in the case of “Metal Gear Survive” – a spinoff along the lines of the “Acid” series – Kojima had no hand in its creation. It’s a spinoff, but without Kojima, it may as well be named something else – so the logic goes, anyway.
“Metal Gear Survive” isn’t a traditional “Metal Gear” game.
As Kojima pointed out back in 2016, traditional “Metal Gear” games are “about political fiction and espionage.”
Though “Metal Gear Survive” is set in the militaristic universe of “Metal Gear,” it’s ostensibly a game about fighting zombies. The game is billed as a “pseudo-historical” take on the events following “Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.” As such, it opens directly following the destruction of “Mother Base” in “Ground Zeroes.” You even play as a soldier loyal to Big Boss, the recurring protagonist of the “Metal Gear” series.
But instead of taking on nuclear proliferation and arguing various philosophies of governance, as is the case with so many “Metal Gear” games, “Metal Gear Survive” simply uses the trappings of previous “Metal Gear” games to create a third-person survival game. You’re still sneaking around, and you’re still a soldier, but that’s where the comparisons end.
Konami is seemingly intent on not promoting “Metal Gear Survive.”
As someone who reads video game websites every day, and who writes about video games for a living, you’d think I would see “Metal Gear Survive” ads all over the place. I’ve been writing about the game (and Google searching it, and tweeting about it) for weeks – yet I’m not seeing “Metal Gear Survive” ads anywhere.
If you’ve ever used the internet before, you’re likely aware that stuff you search for magically turns into advertisements. It’s a concept at the heart of how companies like Google make billions of dollars. I bought a Bluetooth device for my car on Amazon last month, and I see non-stop ads for it on every website I visit. Such is the internet in 2018.
But in the case of “Metal Gear Survive,” I’m seeing zero ads.
It’s as though Konami didn’t want anyone to know it just released a new “Metal Gear” game. My colleagues at Business Insider’s Tech desk, many of whom own video game consoles capable of playing “Metal Gear Survive,” weren’t even aware that a new “Metal Gear” game had come out.
Goad them all you want for their ignorance, but it says something that a group of people who actively write about technology, who work all day online, weren’t even aware of the game’s existence.