Respected Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei has published an article that paints a bleak picture of embattled game company Konami.
The Nikkei article is in Japanese, and requires a subscription to access, but translators this morning have revealed the information it includes.
Freelance game localiser Thomas James says Nikkei reveals $80m had been spent on the development of Metal Gear Solid 5 as of April 2015. No doubt more has been spent since. Kojima's exit from the company is already confirmed, and his developer, Kojima Productions, disbanded.
Apparently the culture at Konami's game division started to deteriorate in 2010, when mobile game Dragon Collection became a smash hit. As a low-cost development, margin and profit were high - in stark contrast to costly console game creation.
Nikkei notes the creator of Love Plus has already left the company, but it adds development on the Suikoden series has been halted as well.
The article claims email with outsiders is done with a randomised email address that is changed regularly. Lunch breaks are said to be regulated with time cards, and those who take too much time are "outed".
Employees who are "deemed useless" have been known to be given assembly line work at Konami's pachi-slot machine factory, been ordered to work as security guards, and even made to clean up at fitness clubs.
Dr. Serkan Toto, CEO of a Tokyo-based game industry consultancy, reports Nikkei claims Kojima "fell from grace" because Metal Gear Solid 5 had been delayed.
If true, this ties into the rumour that Kojima's exit has to do with Konami's upper brass refusing to continue to bankroll Kojima's ballooning development demands.
We've asked Konami for comment on the Nikkei article.
These aren't nobodies being told to do this work either. Producers and other prominent creators have had this hoisted on them.— Tom James, The Daigo Umehara of Dating Sims (@iiotenki) August 3, 2015
As revealed last month, Konami has removed all mention of Kojima from the cover of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, due out in September.
It was the latest public sign of the split between Kojima and Konami. Kojima's name was removed from The Phantom Pain's website back in March.
Kojima Productions now appears to be closed. Its website and Twitter accounts have been removed, while the Kojima Productions LA subsidiary studio has been renamed Konami Los Angeles Studio.
Konami previously assured fans that it would continue the Metal Gear series. This September's entry will not be the last Metal Gear game, then, but it will be the last with which its creator will be involved.
"I want to reassure fans that I am 100 per cent involved and will continue working on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain," Kojima concluded at the time.
"I'm determined to make it the greatest game I've directed to date. Don't miss it!"
As for Konami, it appears it is in the midst of a transition away from console game development and towards gambling and social games. Konami recently pulled the plug on Silent Hills, a collaboration between Kojima and director Guillermo Del Toro, and hauled experimental horror teaser P.T. from the PlayStation Store.
However, it's important to note that Konami has confirmed plans to create a new Metal Gear series following the release of Metal Gear Solid 5, and it still has the Pro Evolution Soccer series.