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One of the co-founders of Kojima Productions, Kenichiro Imaizumi, has left the studio in the wake of the release of its debut game, the divisive (timed) PS4-exclusive Death Stranding.
Imaizumi is almost as crucial to Metal Gear Solid history as Hideo Kojima himself, having worked on the games since the 2001 release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the title that introduced players to Raiden in his birthday suit. As VGC reports, he was producer on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and PlatinumGames' superb series spin-off, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Kojima Productions was established as an independent operation in 2015 after Kojima left his long-term employers Konami, bringing together trusted peers to begin production on what would become Death Stranding. Prior to that, the studio was a subsidiary of Konami. Imaizumi has been there since day one.
VGC reached out to Kojima Productions for comment on the veteran's departure, but has received (at the time of writing) no response. However, an unnamed source claims that Imaizumi's stepping down is due to disagreements with other directors at the studio. It's been observed that Imaizumi, previously a very public face for Kojima Productions, was not part of its recent world tour for Death Stranding.
It's totally normal for teams that work on particular games to splinter somewhat after their release, and for developers and producers, writers and directors to follow their creative urges to new companies and fresh challenges. But this does feel like a weird one, given how Imaizumi has been part of the very fabric of Metal Gear, and such a vital figure at Kojima Productions once it broke away from Konami.
We'll certainly be looking out for Imaizumi's next move, as it's unlikely that someone with his pedigree will sit on the sidelines for long. Perhaps he felt it was time, now he's in his 50s and has spent two decades working with Hideo Kojima, to step out of the shadow of one of the gaming world's most high-profile creatives.
It could be that at least some of the 120 or so developers at Kojima Productions might have felt that having all the attention around Death Stranding focused on one guy was a bit... unseemly. That's just speculation, of course - but it's not too hard to imagine, is it.
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