Metal Gear Creator Kojima Says Bigger Budgets Can Stifle Creativity

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s big budget has its benefits, but it makes it harder to maintain creative freedom, according to Kojima.

Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima has said that it can be more difficult to maintain creative freedom when working on big-budget games.

“I want to use a lot of technology, but as we use more technology we need more budget, and when you need more budget it’s more difficult to put more authorship into [the game]; the relationship with the marketing department becomes more difficult,” Kojima said in a roundtable interview at E3 2014 attended by GameSpot. “So, as a creator it has become very difficult; the more technology we use, the more difficult [being creative] becomes.”

Kojima attended E3 to promote his most recent and biggest game to date, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The recently released prelude to that game, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, has been the subject of some controversy lately due to its depictions of torture.

As Kojima explained at the same roundtable interview, he expected people to have a strong reaction, but that he doesn’t want to shy away from presenting such subjects in his games, and that they’re meant to make players empathize and understand Snake's motivations.

Earlier this year, Kojima also said games will never be considered culture if they don't broach sensitive subjects.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is currently in development for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, though publisher Konami has not announced a release date for the game yet. For more on it, be sure to read GameSpot's previous coverage from E3 this week.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer in search of the Citizen Kane of burritos.

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Discussion

91 comments
SSEEXX
SSEEXX

PC always has no chance with kojima ,and no one knows why! 

Although PC gives him freedom to do what he cannot do on consoles 

 dear kojima if you care much about the space and i know you do 

 i have 2TB ready for your game

  lool :(  

opellium_52
opellium_52

Is this an open world game? wow, MGS has never been open world before. And i dont understand why, with the claimed 'big budget' you cant even release a pc version

darkknight9174
darkknight9174

Makes sense. It is a balancing act really. If you don't have enough of a budget you can't attract enough talent to do advanced things with technology or creativity, or if you do have the talent you probably don't have enough of it to finish the project in a reasonable amount of time. Look at some of the mod teams out there. They have some great ideas and a lot of talent from people who love what they're doing so much that they do it for free or for donations. However, many of their projects take years and years and years.


I would really like to see companies invest more in attracting creative talent. I'm talking about great writers, gameplay, level and world designers. I'm not saying there isn't already a lot of investment in these areas, but IMO the most important aspects of a game are gameplay, story and art/world design/direction. If any of those three are terrible (story has more leeway with multiplayer and can be compensated for with awesome gameplay) then I don't care if the game is open world with 1,000 square miles of game world, 500 hours of gameplay, and life-like graphics.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Makes sense. The more money that someone invests in you, the bigger the risk they're taking and therefore the more control they'd be wanting to take.

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

This is why we need indie games more than ever... Big companies wouldn't want to risk too much money on a untested idea.. Guarantee if No Mans Sky is a hit we'll see a heck of a lot more AAA companies make games of a similar ilk 

santinegrete
santinegrete

Biggger budgets with also bigger ambitions, yep, I've seen that happening a lot.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

Never played an MGS game but I've seen that technology has been compensating for lackluster story telling, gameplay, and level design for over 15 years.  In the late '90s every series went "3D".  In the '00s many series went "sandbox".  Now it's "procedural".  Next it will be "VR".  Mix in a steady progression of impressive graphical enhancements and and consumers see a mirage of added value with each iteration despite playing the same characters and recycled stories.


A developer can push the tech and make lots of money but if a series is getting stale sooner or later technical progress is going to have a lull and expose it.  There is no substitute for creativity.  It is the one thing that is truly independent of time and progress. Deus Ex, Fallout, Morrowind, System Shock, are not cutting edge tech yet people keep going back to play them.  Why?  GOG has made a business of selling obsolete games.  How is that?


Again, not talking about MGS.  Not trying to pick a fight.  Just making a general observation.

G30Rg3PSc0tT
G30Rg3PSc0tT

Smaller budgets force people to think outside the box when a problem presents, and you need to deal with it cheaply. Larger budgets mean devs have to cater to as many people as possible in order to make it profitable.

funkerazmain
funkerazmain

Booooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Release this along with the previous metal gear games for the pc!!!!!!!!!!!

wexorian
wexorian

Yeah creativity to robe ppl, for 10 min game that cost 30$ INNOVATION!!!

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Much like your games Kojima, this doesn't make any sense.

Tyaj
Tyaj

Look up the name Dan Pink, I think you'll find some answers that relate to what Kojima is talking about.

ShadowSkill11
ShadowSkill11

Nah... keep right on torturing the crap out of white people in your games Mr. Kojima. Screw the corporate pigs. Now that you have Jack Bower on the payroll I suggest you go full Bower on those S.O.B's.

Halloll
Halloll

bigger budget means higher costs, so you will need to reach to a wider audience which make you dump down your game (Thief 4) , this is why there is so much homogeneity in AAA titles making them feel too similar to each other.

remynova
remynova

Indie games are sometimes eye candy, but very boring compared to well made triple A games. Truth.

DrKill09
DrKill09

So is THAT why you released a $30 demo, and the story makes NO sense?

hermitkiller
hermitkiller

GTA V on PC is like me being a milllionaire, never in this lifetime.

Emulate it my hermit friends hehe xDDDD!!

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

With shrinking AAA revenue and larger AAA development costs, corporates are forcing sequeling and strangling creativity -- taking chances isn't something giant corporations with shareholders usually feel comfortable with.  They want the safest return on their investment.

What's happening now is that some of the "rockstars" of game design who have their own fans are now looking at leaving the corporate system and leveraging their "rockstar" status to head indie projects where there's more freedom and chances can be taken.  This could be bad for the giant AAA titles, but great for gaming overall.  This was probably the reason Ken Levine dissolved Irrational. 

Kojima certainly saw great monies developing MGSV, but the amount of that investment couldn't easily be recouped by MSGV's $60 alone...  so we got the prelude demo stripped form the main game and sold separately, MGS:GZ.  

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

and people realize the ugly downside to ever prettier graphics.

LonelyHippie27
LonelyHippie27

After E3 I'm still excited for this game the most

somberfox
somberfox

Something that should be clear to anyone who has any interest in playing indie games.

lonesamurai1
lonesamurai1

He's means it costs to much money to make these games on consoles and that's why the bottom is going to fall out of the console industry dev studios can't support the cost of making these games, it's not like the movie industry there's old money there.

frozenuxx
frozenuxx

Creative freedom will truly begin when Kojima will let go of that franchise and start something really new or revisits his late80s/early90s games(like snatcher or policenaut). 

I hope he doesn't plan to ride the same pony to the end of his career. He should take a look at Shinji Mikami or Inafune...

Letrico
Letrico

@opellium_52 Because Metal Gear Solid games has always been console exclusive except the Metal Gear RIsing. But you can expect the game might pop up in the future on PC as Kojima already stated his interest in releasing MGSV on PC before.

Bienio11
Bienio11

Agree!!! Give us Pc Version Kojima!!!

Letrico
Letrico

@wexorian Please don't comment if you never played Ground Zeroes. It kills me to see such uneducated comment.

MrTekku
MrTekku

@VenkmanPHD Have you even played the Metal Gear series? There's not a single game that isn't unique on its own, and that pushes the series forward in some area. To be able to pull that off with the challenges he mentions in a AAA environment is somewhat astonishing. And he now takes the biggest risk ever with The Phantom Pain by completely changing the tone, controls and world structure. He even changes the iconic voice actor that has been around for 16 years. If anything he should be an inspiration to most developers that are working on high budget games.

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

@Halloll  The "more budget" is one of the problems, the sponsors that lend the money often don't wanna risk, and the stupid copyright laws is another one, if you use a candy whiteout permission of the copyright and trademark holders, or use in a way they don't want, they can sue you and the copyright protectors can remove every product from your work leaving it naked, actually if they remove everything you won't be able to use symbols on shirts.


Wanna know more? then watch "The greatest movie ever sold"

Kunakai
Kunakai

@remynova Try telling that to the people who've sunk a billion hours into Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program. Indie games can do just as well as and better than Triple A's. 

blee575
blee575

@remynova Thing is, AAA titles are becoming less and less specialized and innovative as the production costs go up. There was a time when I was up for AAA titles as well, but that slowly changed over the past 10 years.

To appeal to a wider audience, AAA titles nowadays can hardly be considered "art". With a few exceptions most of them feauture generic, simple gameplay and mainstream storylines, based on the ''fight-watch cutscenes-fight-watch cutscenes'' pattern.

The video games scene reminds me the music one: with some notable exceptions, AAA games are like Justin Bieber music. Made for the masses.

ERRMAHGERD
ERRMAHGERD

@remynova well wow I never thought I'd find a fellow AAA enthusiast. I'm stoked for all the major AAA games coming soon, whilst my friends took the scenic indie route

yes_um_no_yeah
yes_um_no_yeah

@DrKill09 Don't pick up the demo and the overall story makes plenty of sense, it's just riddled with details that make it hard to follow if you haven't played the games.

shoguntake
shoguntake

@DrKill09 "story makes NO sense?"

I take it you're relatively new to the series then? Either that or you have a learning disability. It doesn't take a genius to understand the story as long as you keep up.

Archangel2222
Archangel2222

@DrKill09 Nope, the game is still fun and great and clocks in alot of hours for several people even for $30, even less if you get the digital. Dont know why people are whinging. MGS makes plenty sense and is the best franchise period out there. Great gameplay, story is told in a way that changed the gaming world, look at the ps1 version everyone is now doing it. Graphics are always top notch for its time, the series delivers and never disappoints. Haters gonna hate thats all

santinegrete
santinegrete

@abcdefgabcdefgz nope, they're pretty much negationist or prefer to point at indie games as "this is just for casuals, bring the AAA" ignoring how the cost of AAA is crushing the business itself under it's own weight. Last Tomb Raider was a great example of it, that's why there's like 3 releases (standard, GoTY, Definitive), because the game needed all the money it could get, even with early Steam deals. When all people plays simplified pretty game they'll figure out, I hope.

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

@lonesamurai1 Coming from the film industry, there's the same issue happening in film.  What's keeping everything in film from going back to a sea of independents and low budgets (like the late 60's and 70's) is executive egos...  and the fact that once or twice a year one of the giant spectacles becomes a runaway hit.  With games, if people ran from COD (and games like it) in droves, the paradigm could change rapidly.    

SpLiTMaN
SpLiTMaN

@Letrico @opellium_52 heum dude metal gear 1 and 2 were jap pc games and then mgs 1 and 2 made there way to pc and so did mgr...kojima as said forever about his love for pc and probly hes just recoding every game hes made for some special pc collection in the future...probly like 2 years after mgs 5 finally launches..

remynova
remynova

@blee575 An opinionated Hipster, who's too cool for mainstream. So, college sophmore.

lonesamurai1
lonesamurai1

But that ain't gonna happen because if that's the case then let's just run EA out of business, not to mention the fact that console gamers demand AAA only titles, unfortunately it's the consoles life blood.

Arkhalipso
Arkhalipso

@lonesamurai1 I'm pretty sure that PC gamers are the ones demanding super high graphical quality games. All the hate to Indie games comes from people that can't stand playing a 2D game that "looks from the 90's". This is the only reason why we get the same pretty open-world, RPGish, action shooter crap every year. This is why most AAA developers can't make something new while indie developers don't make enough to make something bigger.