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Konami Closures Can Only Mean A Couple Of Things

Update 1/25/21: Konami has since clarified its plan regarding the organizational changes scheduled for Feb. 1 in a statement provided to Kotaku: "The announcement made refers to an internal restructure, with Production Divisions being consolidated. We have not shut down our video gaming division." Our original story follows.

Konami announced earlier this month that it would restructure its offices effective Feb. 1, 2021. However, amid the typical promotions and reappointments, fans noticed something concerning. Konami will dissolve three production divisions in order "to respond to the rapid market that surrounds [them]." The announcement does not clarify exactly what that rapid market entails, or if this restructure will affect Konami's ability to produce games in the future.

Even though Konami hasn't specified its plans to the public yet, game journalists and gamers alike have speculated that the choice to close these divisions might signal the end of video games at the iconic company. Games journalist Ryan Brown tweeted, "Production Department 1, 2 & 3 still exist, so [it] may just be a standard restructural move." A different user responded sarcastically, "Oh no, think of all the good games they were releasing lately.... Lol." 

It's true that Konami hasn't released a new console game in years, aside from ports of famous IPs. The lack of new games coupled with shutting down these Production Divisions has some critics worried that there may never be another entry from famous franchises like Metal Gear Solid.

Sean Murray at The Gamer believes that Konami's latest move could mean impending doom for the company, or at the very least an abandonment of console games. Murray wishes that Konami would consider divesting itself of its franchises, explaining, "maybe it's time they sell off their IPs so that someone else can make something of them. Or maybe this is the last we'll ever see of Metal Gear or Castlevania."

Alternatively, Joe Skrebels at IGN thinks Konami is simply restructuring its hierarchy, and it turns out that Konami agrees. In a statement made directly to IGN, a Konami representative reassured fans, saying, "The announcement made refers to an internal restructure, with Production Divisions being consolidated. We have not 'shut down' our video gaming division." Skrebels notes that previous Production Division heads have been moved to different positions, supporting his argument that "per the statement's mention of consolidation, it may be that the development work of the old Divisions is being folded into wider Departments."

Speculation about Konami's place within the gaming industry comes after years of Konami quietly moving away from video games in general, focusing more on casino fare, including slot machines. Despite the fact that Konami could have a massive money earner on its hands with a new Silent Hill game or Castlevania reboot, it has not expressed any recent interest or indication in revitalizing its big franchises. In general, the closures at Konami probably only mean one vague thing: Either the company is stepping back from the video game industry in order to refocus on other projects, or it's not. Only time will truly tell what Konami has planned.