Hideo Kojima said in the past that Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will be the last game in the series. It may also be the last game he develops for Konami.

Gamespot reports that things have gotten ugly between Konami and their subsidiary studio, Kojima Productions. The site says there was a "power struggle" between two companies. It's unclear exactly what went down there but the result is that Konami's cleaning house. Hideo Kojima and other senior staffers are reportedly now contractors rather than permanent employees. They won't be with the company much longer, either.

"After we finish MGSV, Mr. Kojima and upper management will leave Konami. They said their contract ends in December," said Gamespot's source.

The site also noted that Konami removed any mention of Kojima from the official Metal Gear Solid website. In the cached version, Kojima's name appears above the title of every Metal Gear Solid game including Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. His name's been removed in all cases, though. Here's an example:

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain logo

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain logo without Kojima

Konami has also moved the official Metal Gear Twitter account from @Kojima_Pro_Live to a new account that doesn't mention Kojima Productions:
When reached for comment, Konami provided this statement to several sites:
"As we have already announced, we are shifting our production structure to a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business. Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements."

Kojima has worked at Konami since 1986 and created the first Metal Gear game the following year. He's worked on every MG game since then and founded Kojima Productions in 2005. Over his three decades of work with Metal Gear, it's grown to become Konami's biggest game franchise or close to it. It's sad to see such a long-standing partnership end in such an ugly mess.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will launch worldwide in September along with Metal Gear Online. I hope that the game turns out to be great in spite of the drama. I think Kojima and his team deserve to leave on a high note.

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