Here’s to you, Kojima, you utterly loony, crazy, amazing bastard.
Tomorrow morning at 5am GMT (1am EST/10pm PST), GameTrailers TV will be airing an interview with the CEO of Moby Dick Studio, Joakim Mogren, for the studio’s upcoming PS3 and 360 title The Phantom Pain, unveiled at the VGAs. Of course, we know at this point it’s actually an ARG of sorts for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (or something else MGS related?).
Since the announcement of the interview was made by Geoff Keighley, who had actually teased something Phantom Pain related was inbound before the interview was announced, questions have been asked of the ethics in this. Is Keighley in on the whole thing of the ARG? Remember, he is the producer of the event that kicked off this entire shindig and he’s the one who’s basically the face of it. And as a journalist, there is something very ethically shady about it if it does turn out he’s been involved in the ARG from the start. After all, tomorrow morning, we’re basically going to be seeing him interview someone who is otherwise a non-existant, fictional character in Joakim Mogren (Remember: Joakim is an anagram of Kojima and in Mogren, the word ‘Ogre’ is made clear – Kojima has made reference to something called Project Ogre on Twitter over the past few years).
Not to mention, as CVG’s Rob Crossley mentioned in a tweet yesterday, there’s a blurry line starting to come across for this between journalism and promotion.
However, and I say this as a dyed in the wool Metal Gear Solid fanboy where MGS3 is my favorite game ever and not as a games journalist who has written multiple pieces – news or opinion features – on Metal Gear games, Kojima Productions, Kojima himself and where MGS3 partly inspired me to write about games (something I even told Kojima at BAFTA last year), can we just sit along and enjoy the ride for what it is?
I mean, we’re lucky nowadays to see something OR anything like this. It’s a rare occurrence. I mean, trade events (E3, gamescom, GDC, TGS, PAX) aside, the typical game announcement is either one of two things:
A) – A press release – Publisher X announces Game A (or if you’re lucky, a sequel called Game B) with hyperbolic comments from a company exec and a senior developer working on the project.
B) – Announced on a magazine cover with an accompanying press release like above – hello there, Game Informer, looking at you on this one.
The last game announcement that stuck with me was the Grand Theft Auto V announcement. Rockstar didn’t need a press release. It didn’t need a Game Informer cover (at least at the time). It didn’t need a trade show like E3. It just hashtagged #GTAV and then plastered a link to the countdown for the first trailer. Instinctively, the part of me as a games journalist immediately had to respond and get it up on VG247 asap. But the gamer in me, who adores GTA IV a great deal, marked out a lot. I was screaming my head off in disbelief.
Okay, I’m kind of babbling now. But what I’m trying to say is what Rockstar did that day was certainly unique. It made its announcement outside of traditional means and ways. In fact, I’d go as far as say only MGS and GTA are the only franchises that can do this sort of thing (no, Final Fantasy can’t do it because Square Enix can only go down the announcement of announcement route – case in point: PlayStation Meeting).
But if anyone can pull off an ARG of this sort on The Phantom Pain, only Hideo Kojima can. After all, this is the man who psyched us out with the Mantis boss fight and the memory card switch, the man who basically pulled a bait-and-switch over our eyes with Snake and Raiden in MGS2 and who also broke the fourth wall by telling people to “turn off the games console” towards MGS2’s end.
I’ll be truthful, I haven’t seen anything like this in years from Kojima. So while I can understand why some people might be a bit antsy about it, you can put me down on the camp for more mind-fucking from Kojima. And I say this as both a dyed in the wool MGS fanboy and games journalist.
Of note: I have a theory about this entire shindig, regards Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. What if, similar to MGS2, we have two acts of the same game and tied to each other, but it came from different studios?
Or to be exact, what if Kojima Productions was working on Ground Zeroes with Kojima, Shinkawa and the crew as mentioned in the trailer from last summer. And what if the second act was The Phantom Pain, coming from Moby Dick. Or to be specific, if the Moby Dick name was a pseudonym for Kojima Productions LA. Got two reasons for this.
1) – The “From FOX, two phantoms were born” slogan would kind of make sense here.
2) – MGS4 was made in-house, but had a bit of a western influence in part thanks mostly to the part of producer Ryan Payton. What if this was some kind of developmental experiment Kojima is pulling. Ground Zeroes made on the eastern side in Japan and The Phantom Pain from Kojima Producitons LA, showing what a Metal Gear would look like from a western perspective.
Maybe I’m talking crazy. Maybe I’m talking sense. I don’t know. Only one man knows: Hideo Kojima.