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Kojima turns down ‘ridiculous’ buyout offers every day to stay indie

‘It’s not that I want money. I want to make what I want to make.’

Gamescom 2019 Opening Night Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Hideo Kojima wants folks to know he is a resolutely independent video games developer. That is, not only does his studio have “no affiliations with anyone,” but also “every day” the Death Stranding auteur is refusing buyout offers from other companies.

“Some of those offers are ridiculously high prices,” Kojima said in his latest edition of Brain Structure, a podcast available through Spotify. (For the record, Kojima speaks in Japanese, with an English overdub). “But it’s not that I want money. I want to make what I want to make. That’s why I created this studio.”

Kojima hosts the podcast, and his guest this week was his good friend Geoff Keighley, himself the host of The Game Awards — so, Kojima ostensibly leading the discussion. (Disclosure: Kojima is a member of The Game Awards’ advisory board.)

However, Keighley quickly took on the role of interviewer, asking Kojima about recent developments in the games industry. “There are so many rumors about games, on social media especially, and I thought maybe we would talk about some of the rumors that are out there, and some of the truth that are behind those rumors,” Keighley said.

The two then engaged in a lengthy discussion of rumor culture, entertainment products, and social media. After mentioning this summer’s announcement that Kojima was working on a game for Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios, Keighley brought up Kojima’s already-close working relationship with PlayStation and Sony Interactive Entertainment (Death Stranding was, and still is, a PlayStation console exclusive), and whether he had made commitments to one console maker or the other over the years.

“I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding about Kojima Productions,” he said. “I created this company in 2015 after leaving Konami. It was 100% out of my pocket. No funding from anyone whatsoever. So, we’re independent.”

Kojima acknowledged that his studio’s actual, physical proximity to both Sony’s worldwide headquarters (in Shibuya, Tokyo), as well as Sony Interactive Entertainment’s HQ, means “people tend to think we are part of Sony.” But as this summer’s announcement regarding Microsoft indicates, “we are indies. We have no affiliations whatsoever, and we are not backed by anyone. […] And every day, I am approached by offers all over the world to buy our studio.

“Some of those offers are ridiculously high prices, but it’s not that I want the money,” Kojima said. “I want to make what I want to make. That’s why I created this studio.”

In other words, for those expecting Kojima Productions (and mascot Ludens) to be the latest big-name acquisition in a year shot through with them, don’t hold your breath. “As long as I’m alive, I don’t think I will ever accept those offers,” Kojima said.

One assumes Kojima’s posture comes from how his tenure ended with Konami in 2015, when the publisher jettisoned him and his ideas in favor of making pachinko machines and burning Pro Evolution Soccer to the ground.

But Kojima also speaks as an artist (of 35 years and counting, in this medium) who understands creative capital and how much he has earned.

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