Friday, December 5, 2008

´Metal Gear Solid 4´ no longer PS3 exclusive?, part VIII

Hideo Kojima is hinting at a new installment in the ´Metal Gear´ series, possibly on Xbox360, via this teaser site. It contains a flash animation that apparently features the Xbox360's ring of light, pictured below the screengrab for comparison:

Alternatively, the small caps letter ´i´ could hint at a whole number of other platforms: the iPhone, the DSi and the Wii. The exclamation mark is part of the ´Metal Gear Acid´ logo, but could also reference the MGS series symbol for being discovered by the enemy. A reference to ´Metal Gear Acid´ is unlikely since the directory the teaser animation is in reads ´MGST´. This strongly suggests a ´Metal Gear Solid´ title, perhaps with a subtitle beginning with the letter ´T´.

Only in mid-October, a Konami spokesperson confirmed: "We're actively looking into a [Metal Gear Solid 4] release for the Xbox 360" in a Japanese magazine. Shortly afterwards, the journal removed the quote from the article.

Speaking to Eurogamer in late August, the series' creator Hideo Kojima tried to dispel the rumours about an Xbox360 version and wished people would stop asking.

Because MGS4 was optimised for the PS3 it is probably not possible. But, you know, what kind of disturbs me sometimes, because a lot of people ask me about this PS3/360 question, is that it's not about the hardware - I want people to look at the game itself. Sometimes I even feel like it should be on a PC so that people don't ask me about hardware and platforms.

Still, Kojima himself hinted at an Xbox360 version. Many industry experts, myself included, have taken the non-exclusivity for granted. The PlayStation3's poor hardware sales and the game's staggering budget simply do not make an unlimited exclusivity a viable option from an economic point of view. And there were plenty of indicators that an Xbox360 version was already in the works. Here is another updated rundown of all the other hints and rumours regarding this debate from day one.

Part I, October 2006

Electronic Gaming Monthly tease readers with the headline ´Metal Gear Solid 4 on Xbox 360?´ on the magazine´s cover.

However, on the NeoGAF forums, former EGM editor Che Chou seeks to squash the rumours.

It's simply a rumor that Konami higher-ups are pressuring Kojima Productions to consider making MGS4 a multiplatform game because production costs on the game are unsurprisingly high and only getting higher. With PS3 install base numbers not looking all that rosy due to console cost and manufacturing problems, Konami is scared they can't recoup their investment on only 1 platform alone.

Part II, December 2006

On his blog, industry insider Daniel Boutros claims that an Xbox360 version of MGS4 has been confirmed behind closed doors.

It's coming a few months later than the PS3 game, but it's happening folks.

This is said to be because publishers - including Konami - don't believe there'll be enough PS3s out there by the time the game hits because of the blu ray diode failure issues. (...)

Part III, January 2007

Speaking to GamePro, Hideo Kojima himself says that ´MGS4 is actually for the PS3 only,´ adding a significant ´so far´.

If I say too much, Mr. Kutaragi might get really upset. I think that the PS3 is difficult to work with, but so was the PS2. (...)

I do have strong interest in creating something for the Xbox 360. In the US and Europe, it is selling, and I think it will sell a lot this year as well. I'm a fan of Gears of War as well, it's very interesting.

Frankly speaking, I want to create something on the PC. It's a multi-platform [format]. I've been regularly studying work on the PC anyways, and I want to provide something as a world-wide platform because of the consequences with timing on the PlayStation platforms, MGS4 is actually for the PS3 only so far.

Part IV, April 2007

The VG Resource Center claims to have received a statement by an anonymous source within Konami.

Yes, in fact, we are working on putting Metal Gear Solid 4 on the Xbox 360 and PC, which should both come out roughly 6 months after the PS3 release. However, we've been working with Microsoft so the 360 and PC versions will both take advantage of Xbox Live and Games for Windows Live, with such features as achievements and the ability for 360 and PC owners to play against each other in multiplayer.

Part V, May 2007

An alleged Microsoft employee writing for Destructoid confirms that the game will be released on Xbox360 no more than one year after the PlayStation3 version. The article reads:

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will not be a PS3 exclusive after all. It has been confirmed that it will make its way to the Xbox 360 in 2008.

There is no true date set for the release at this point, but November of 2008 has been mentioned. This is not set in stone as Konami is working with Microsoft to bring the date forward as much as possible. (...) The announcement hasn't been officially made yet, but the source works for Konami, and I know for a fact that MS has been negotiating this for months.

The article has since been subjected to a ´Cease and Desist´ order.

Part VI, July 2007

A Reuters article cites Kazumi Kitaue, head of Konami's North American and European operations speaking about a multi-platform MGS4.

Kitaue said Konami may need to expand the target hardware for its blockbuster fighting game Metal Gear Solid, which has so far been developed for Sony's PlayStation machines, to other consoles in the future to recoup development costs.

"Since Metal Gear Solid was born for the PlayStation, we would like to keep it a PlayStation game. But we might have to take some steps," Kitaue said. (...)

Only days later, the Official Xbox Magazine claims a "bankable source" confirmed that the game would be coming to Xbox360 "a few months" after the PS3 version.

Soon after, music and videogame retailer HMV lists a PS3 and an Xbox360 version on its website, detailing 2008 release dates of April 18 and September 26, respectively, later claiming an "admin error".

Part VII, January 2008

Xbox site XboxFamily claimed to have been told about an Xbox360 version of ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ being in the works, citing an inside source with the game´s publisher.

Speaking to a Konami rep at an undisclosed distribution meeting, I was told, after a lot of nagging, that yes indeed MGS was in development for the 360. The rep stated that Metal Gear Solid will be released for the Xbox 360 between 12 to 14 months after the PS3 version hits shelves. This is not a rumor.

Only some months before, in a Reuters article published in late November, the game´s assistant producer Ryan Payton said the following about the publisher´s high expectations for the game.

Payton said the new "Metal Gear Solid" needs to sell over a million copies on the first day it goes on sale due to its costly production, but that may be a tough mark to hit given sluggish PS3 sales.

EDIT Here are some interesting theories by other media outlets, starting with the brand new Offworld, Boing Boing's gaming site.

Back in July, as many may have forgot, a French games blog suggested a rumor that Kojima Productions might have a December Surprise up its sleeve. December 12th, they said, six months after the release of the game (that length of time, players will note, fitting in nicely with the fiction of ´Metal Gear Solid 4´) might trigger an in-game event.

PC World (via Yahoo News) also has some interesting comments on this:

Since the colors are electric green on black, and since the symbol to the right looks an awful lot like the symbol in the middle of the power button on the face of the 360, it's not hard to see why.

On the other hand, it's actually just the universal power symbol, also known as IEC 5009 (which refers to "power" but alternatively to "standby" or both "power/standby") as well as IEEE 1621, where it refers explicitly to the "power control user interface." It's also on Apple laptops, Windows-based laptops, desktops, various other electronic devices, and if you look at the touch button on your PS3 -- yep, it's there too. That it's green may have some significance...or it may be a red herring. Hard to say.

EDIT Here is another interesting theory, courtesy of TVG, focussing on the inverted exclamation mark.

TVG has its own theory: MGS4 was released globally on the 12th of June (12/06). Invert that date like the exclamation point, and you get '06/12' – which is tomorrow.

So, is Konami finally confirming tomorrow that MGS4 will be heading to Microsoft as the last great third-party PlayStation exclusive to go multi-platform?

Sources: Konami, Joystiq, Joystiq, Eurogamer, Offworld, PC World (via Yahoo News)
Thanks to: Kolt, Kotaku, Kotaku

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