Hideo Kojima's name has been removed from Metal Gear Solid 5 branding.
Users on Reddit and NeoGAF noticed the tagline "A Hideo Kojima game" and the Kojima Productions logo had been removed from images used to advertise Metal Gear Solid 5 and Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes on Konami's new website.
You can see the images as they were before the change via an archived version of the now defunct Metal Gear Solid 5 website here.
Meanwhile, Kojima does not appear on Konami's latest list of corporate officers, effective 1st April, leading some to believe he has exited the company. Kojima had been listed as an executive content officer and director of Kojima Productions.
Kojima Productions, at least in name, appears to be no more. The Kojima Productions website redirects to the Konami website, the Kojima Productions Twitter account has been folded into a centralised Metal Gear Solid Twitter account, and the Kojima Productions LA studio, set up in September 2013 assist Kojima Productions with Metal Gear development, has been renamed Konami Los Angeles Studio.
Konami issued Eurogamer the following statement on the matter:
"Konami Digital Entertainment, including Mr. Kojima, will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements."
While not a denial that Kojima has exited Konami, the statement suggests he will at least see Metal Gear Solid 5 to the end of its development. The game is due out 1st September 2015.
The branding changes appear to relate to a restructure at Konami, announced earlier this month, to what the company calls "a headquarters-controlled system".
The idea seems to be that Konami should be front and centre of all branding and production efforts, not individual studios such as Kojima Productions. This, in part, would explain the removal of the "A Hideo Kojima Game" tagline, used in all Metal Gear Solid games up to this point.
Konami issued Eurogamer a follow-up statement on the changes:
"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."
The wording of Konami's statements will do nothing to assuage concern that Kojima has exited - or plans to exit - Konami. At the time of publication, the legendary video game designer had yet to address the issue on Twitter.
Heading off.pic.twitter.com/JWyh4DbeIY?— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) March 16, 2015