Konami takes new tack in 2006

Japanese publisher and developer opts to expand existing series with non-game merch; little announced in way of next gen.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Konami Digital Entertainment held its annual press event in the Bay Area today, revealing its strategy for the upcoming year. However, instead of just releasing new games with fresh graphics or sequels to existing intellectual property, the company appears to be taking a different step.

Held at Mezzanine, a trendy SOMA nightclub and live music joint, the event kicked off with a lengthy presentation detailing the new products set for release this year, and was followed by hands-on time with several upcoming games.

During the presentation, it was clear that Konami isn't simply prepping the same experience as its previous titles. The company is instead expanding its existing properties beyond consoles and into other media, effectively creating new forms of entertainment rather than simple couch time with a controller in hand.

Catherine Fowler, senior vice president of sales and marketing, pointed out the "slew of new faces" that have joined the company, particularly in the Los Angeles office, that have helped turned the company's focus. She stressed the constant development of technology ("we're doing something others aren't") and innovation ("step out of the mold") as Konami's credo for the next 12 months. In fact, "technology" and "innovation" were words thrown around a lot during the two-hour presentation.

Konami introduced what it calls "a new genre of entertainment products." These interactive media "experiences" for the PSP will be based on the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill series. Though details on the Metal Gear Solid digital comic are scarce, the Silent Hill Experience is scheduled to be released in April, the same time as the Silent Hill movie from Sony Pictures hits theaters.

Konami further expanded its reach beyond consoles by giving MGS fans another treat. It was announced that gamers who preorder Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, Konami's flagship title for 2006, will get even more MGS for their buck. Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1 documents all the Metal Gear games straight from the mind of Kojima himself, and will be available in mid-February.

Konami was also very pleased to be bringing one of its most treasured franchises back to the arcade. Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova will be the first DDR arcade game released in the US in six years, shimmying into arcades this spring.

Not only will Konami be taking the two-stepping gameplay into arcades, the company has allied with schools in West Virginia to incorporate DDR games into physical education programs.

"We see this as a much larger initiative that will spread across the country," said Jason Enos, product manager at Konami.

With all the hoopla surrounding the next generation of gaming, it was fairly surprising that Konami had only one next-gen title to show--Rumble Roses XX. However, while most gaming companies are approaching the year by going gung ho in a straight line, it appears Konami is taking a different strategy by branching out.

For more details on Konami's press event, head over to GameSpot's complete coverage.

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