Brands like Metal Gear, Castlevania, Silent Hill, Suikoden, and Winning
Eleven are hardcore bankables; generally scoring well in reviews and
viewed favorably by gamers. They deservedly give Konami a certain
fanboy luster that American publishers struggle to emulate.
But Konami is also the company of innumerable music and dance titles,
ubiquitous at the watering holes of young people the world over, from
Nagoya to Nairobi.
The Dance Dance thing really has been a revolution, bringing a
fem-trification to sweaty arcade halls and a much-needed fillip to the
coin-op business. While everybody was talking about how to get "girls"
to play games, and how to make the experience more social (in a real,
not an online sense), Konami had it all figured out.
The company that began in the ‘60s fixing knocked-around pinball
machines has pulled off the thoroughly 21st century trick of appealing
to the center and to the periphery at the same time. It has no problem
trading in Frogger reruns, Yu-Gi-Oh card games, and cheesy karaoke
while churning it in highly competitive top-end genres including
soccer, racing, horror, and action.
Konami is also the latest to see sense in pulling its development
strands together, announcing a plan to merge Konami Computer
Entertainment Studio, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, and Konami
Computer Entertainment Tokyo (as well as its online operations) into
one. It is Konami’s view that the current move toward online gaming
will be served best by a joint effort. Already it has launched a global
Yu-Gi-Oh online game. Meanwhile, the company has picked up indie
It’s also announced a new internal studio–Kojima Productions– dedicated to Metal Gear Solid titles such as MGS4.
But it’s also stretched across a broad spectrum of entertainment
industries including toys, card games, and arcades. Fluctuations in
these erratic and difficult markets have a negative impact on
financials. The firm’s most recent announcements were
grim–year-on-year profits down by nearly a half ($100 million) on
sales of $2.5 billion. Although the game business has shown increases,
the toy business was poor.
With toy company Takara sold off, the firm is upbeat about the year
ahead, predicting profits up by around 70 percent, and sales through
the $3 billion mark.
The company–which expects sales to exceed $2.5 billion this financial
year–is also active in the portables and mobile market, readying a
significant slate of PSP and DS releases and carving out mobile phone
agreements with developers and operators around the world.