All silent on the hills after Konami split

UP, UP, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. Do you recognise that? It’s the Konami code, the most famous cheat code in gaming.

All silent on the hills after Konami split

It’s also the only code Konami seems to honour these days. Recently, the Japanese developer abruptly announced that it was cancelling Silent Hills, the game jointly designed by Hideo Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro. There were no concrete reasons given for the move, but it follows rumours that Kojima has been frozen out at Konami HQ and will part ways with the company once Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain is released in September.

Konami has even removed the Kojima Productions logo from all promotional material for Phantom Pain and deleted the Silent Hills demo from the PlayStation Store, a scorched-earth tactic that even Metal Gear Ray would be hard pressed to top. No one will admit it, but it looks like ‘creative differences’ are behind the split, with Konami deciding to focus on mobile content over consoles, and Kojima unhappy with the direction the company is taking.

It’s an ignominious end to a 30-year success story, one in which Kojima became gaming’s most visible big-budget auteur. Has the creator of Solid Snake, somewhat ironically, been undermined by snakes in his midst?

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Whatever the case, the future of Silent Hills is now up in the air. Over the weekend, whispers began to surface that Microsoft had bought the rights to the series for ‘billions’.

Considering the Silent Hill games have sold a grand total of 9m copies, that figure seemed a tad unrealistic. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer subsequently shot down the rumours.

“Sorry, this isn’t true,” Spencer told a fan on Twitter. “Not sure where this started, but I don’t want to mislead anyone.” Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro seems to be harder hit than most about the cancellation news.

Wiping a forlorn tear from his eye (probably), he had this to say: “The collaboration between Kojima and myself, the meetings, and the friendship that was developing was beautiful. We were having a blast. Hideo knows he would be the only guy I would follow to the ends of the earth on anything.”

Now there’s a man with a code.

FIFA GOES FEMALE

Sepp Blatter is another man with a code of honour. The newly re-elected Fifa president has vowed to right the wrongs of the previous administration, headed by the notorious Sepp Blatter. Digital Fifa is also making progress. EA has announced that 12 national women’s teams will feature in their football series for the first time in Fifa 16.

It’s a surprising but welcome move, and arguably another positive reaction to the ‘gamergate’ fiasco of last year, in which female games journalists were hounded online by a small but vocal hate group. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how EA have handled the stats for the female players.

Will the best female footballers have similar statistics to Messi and Ronaldo, or will EA try and reflect the ‘reality’ of female footballers playing at a slightly lower level to the top male equivalents.

Unfortunately Stephanie Roche won’t be playable, as Ireland isn’t one of the teams represented. Maybe we should send Fifa an expensive bottle of whiskey to get it sorted.

VIRTUAL REALITY

Finally, there’s another kind of code on show at E3 this year — lines and lines of programming code, to be precise, as the biggest showcase in gaming kicks off on June 14. As usual, all the big developers and publishers will be present, but GameStop chief operating officer Tony Bartel thinks the focus will be on one technology in particular.

“I think the thing that’s going to take a lot of space and time at E3 is virtual reality,” he said.

“I think that’s going to be something that a lot of people spend a lot of time on.”

With Valve’s HTC-Vive, Oculus Rift, and Sony’s Morpheus all on the horizon, virtual reality is undoubtedly the future of gaming — but the technology’s appeal in the short-term is hugely dependent on the accompanying software. Will a killer app emerge for VR at this year’s E3? We’ll find out in two weeks.

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