Talks between Xbox and Hideo Kojima are reportedly underway, with the aim to secure a publishing agreement.
Venturebeat - which first reported on potential plans for a deal between the two back in April - say discussions have now progressed to the stage that a letter of intent has been signed while legal teams hash out the finer details.
This leaves development work to continue (and Xbox boss Phil Spencer to continue displaying a Kojima Productions figurine on his shelf) in the meantime.
That said, the project itself still sounds fairly nebulous, with Venturebeat noting it involves Kojima exploring possibilities provided by Microsoft's cloud technology. As for a letter of intent - well, it's far from a signed contract to produce a game for Xbox when all is said and done.
"At its most basic level, a letter of intent is just that: a letter where two (or more) parties indicate their 'intent' to enter into a more formal agreement," Richard Hoeg, lawyer and host of the Virtual Legality podcast, told Eurogamer.
"The letter will generally contain a statement that the two sides want to work together, a description of what that working together might entail (in terms of deliverables to be provided, schedule of work, compensation, etc.), and then certain restrictions on the parties. Of note, it's only the last category that is typically 'binding' on the parties, covering things like confidentiality, restrictions on how and when a party might shop the project to others, and potential penalties for walking away; the remainder of an LOI is best read as a roadmap for the lawyers to draft the real (or 'definitive') agreements."
Kojima confirmed he had a new project in the works last October, when a fresh round of hiring was advertised for his Tokyo-based studio.
Last night, Venturebeat reported that talks between Kojima and Xbox had been ongoing for "months" and last week's hiring of Portal developer Kim Swift to oversee new Xbox cloud game partnerships was to work on Kojima's project.
Kojima, of course, most recently partnered with Sony to release Death Stranding for PlayStation 4. In May 2020, Kojima insisted Death Stranding had been successful and earned back its budget for PlayStation, despite a protracted development. As for what was next, however, Kojima admitted he'd recently had a "major project" cancelled. "I'm pretty pissed, but that's the games industry for you," he wrote.
Still, ties between PlayStation and Kojima have not been completely severed. Last month, Kojima revealed a Death Stranding PS5 Director's Cut, and said a full reveal for that was "weeks away".