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VR vs. Konami

Konami is perhaps one of the most interesting publishers to follow in the videogame industry right now. The company clearly has the resources to develop big budget, headline-grabbing console titles; take a minute to look at the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and that much is clear. But the Japanese outlet also doesn’t seem to be able to push out these types of titles with the regularity that the likes of EA and Ubisoft do.

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Not only that but the number of valid IP under Konami’s ownership is thinning; Metal Gear Solid remains as relevant as it’s ever been, but Silent Hill has been through a number of mediocre reboot efforts through the past decade. There was some hope for its legendary Castlevania series following the release of 2010’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, but the lukewarm reception to this year’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 seems to have taken the franchise back to square one. It’s also been dependent on the involvement of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima to give these titles a boost both in the past for Castlevania and in the future for Silent Hill.

But dig a little deeper into Konami’s track record throughout 2013 and 2014 and there are some tantalising hints that the company could be looking to rejuvenate itself through virtual reality (VR) technology. Although the company is yet to comment on the technology itself, following a trail of breadcrumbs left by company figureheads and partners suggest that it might be deeper into VR development that many other publishers currently are.

Let’s start with images of two Konami staff using the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). Last year Dave Cox, the now former producer on Casltevania: Lords of Shadow, posted an image of himself using the Oculus Rift with a build of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. Nothing came of the image in the end; the full version of the title doesn’t support the HMD. Still, it was a sly hint that Konami partners were working with the Oculus Rift.

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The second hint came from Konami’s golden boy himself, Hideo Kojima. Earlier in the year another image surfaced online, this time of the famed developer wearing the HMD. Again, this might not mean much at all, although it could mean exciting things ahead for the upcoming Silent Hills, which Kojmia himself is involved in.

VRFocus was the first to speculate that Silent Hills might be compatible with VR HMDs, a theory that has been picked up by other outlets since then. The first-person nature of the P.T. interactive teaser and the involvement of legendary director and VR enthusiast Guillermo Del Toro have only strengthened the idea. Silent Hills has been suggested to be a long way off­­, meaning it could come out long after the rumoured 2015 launch for the Oculus Rift and possibly Project Morpheus too.

Elsewhere, Konami is a company that could use VR to bring some new IP to the table. It could certainly do with a refresh in terms of creativity now that its Pro Evolution Soccer series doesn’t dominate the football videogame scene like it once did. This is a publisher that’s had a hand in some of the best videogames of the past few decades and one that could make a real impact on VR. Let’s hope something comes of all the speculation.