The Game Industry Needs Transparency Now More than Ever

Recently it seemed the gaming community had lost one of its patron saints. Without warning, Hideo Kojima’s name disappeared from Konami’s website, and all traces of his input were removed from the company’s marketing material. Within minutes of the change, fans of the Metal Gear series were up in arms, demanding Konami explain the auteur’s missing attribution. Konami has been drip-feeding us carefully worded press releases stating that Kojima is still “100 percent involved and will continue working on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain,” but they’ve yet to give us a satisfying answer.

Backroom politics are a large part of every entertain industry, be it movies, TV, or video games, but rarely are they so public or provocative of removing a creator’s name from his own series when he’s still “100 percent” involved. Assuming the worst is what the gaming community is best at, too. Immediately after the disappearance of Kojima’s name, along with the suspension of his video podcast Kojima Station, Metal Gear fans started spinning wild theories about his being fired or quitting.

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Poor communication has been the cause of many a disappointment in this industry. The Last Guardian’s release is looking grim simply because Sony has been so tight lipped about whether or not the game will ever be released. When non-committal statements like “Development couldn’t be better” come out of Shuhei Yoshida’s mouth just months before Sony lets the game’s patent slip, gamers worry.

Gamers are nothing if not perceptive, and developers and publishers need to recognize that fact. The 1.08 update for GTAV on PS4 and Xbox One included many enhancements to the game, but also featured a noticeable graphical downgrade, stripping out parallax occlusion, increasing pop-in, and lowering texture qualities. Rockstar later came out saying that the problems were the result of a glitch, but I don’t buy it; the downgrade was a universal problem with the update and it’s extremely difficult to believe that such a mistake wouldn’t be caught while testing the patch. If a game’s graphics need to be downgraded after release, then the developers should at least be more honest in their patch notes than calling it a “stability fix.”

Discrepancies between versions of games rarely, if ever, go unnoticed, and thanks to the internet knowledge spreads quickly. The YouTube video calling out GTAV’s graphical disparity was uploaded by user ElAnalistaDeBits the same day the patch went live. With social media connecting us more intricately than ever before, the games industry would benefit from revealing what’s behind the curtain before Joe Schmo on YouTube does.

Rumors and speculation lead to disappointment, and quelling them should be top priority for any Public Relations firm. That means being open and honest about what’s really going on at studios. Gamers consume news about their favorite games at an alarming rate, and in their fervor they can devour nasty rumors just as quickly.