Konami Holdings Corporation is a Japanese entertainment, video game, and gambling conglomerate known for producing, developing, and distributing trading cards, anime, tokusatsu, slot machines, pachinko machines, arcade cabinets, and video games. In addition, Konami has numerous casinos worldwide and operates health and physical fitness clubs across Japan. Founded on March 21, 1969, the company has published two video games set in the Saw franchise, titled Saw: The Video Game and Saw II: Flesh & Blood.
The company was founded on March 21, 1969, and was officially incorporated as Konami Industry Co., Ltd. on March 19, 1973. The company's founder and chairman, Kagemasa Kozuki, ran a jukebox rental and repair business in Toyonaka, Osaka, before transforming the business into a manufacturer of amusement machines for video arcades. Their first coin-operated video game was released in 1978, and they began exporting products to the United States the following year.
Konami began to achieve success with hit arcade games such as 1981's Frogger, Scramble, and Super Cobra, many of which were licensed to other companies for stateside release, including Stern Electronics and Gremlin Industries. They eventually established their US subsidiary, Konami of America, Inc., in 1982. During this period, Konami began expanding its video game business into the home consumer market following a brief stint of releasing video games for the Atari 2600 in 1982 for the US market. Next, the company would release numerous games for the MSX home computer standard in 1983, followed by the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. During this period, multiple Konami franchises were established on both platforms and the arcades, such as Gradius, Castlevania, Twin Bee, Ganbare Goemon, Contra, and Metal Gear. Due to the success of their NES games, Konami's earnings grew from $10 million in 1987 to $300 million in 1991.
In June 1991, Konami changed its legal name to Konami Co., Ltd., and later relocated its headquarters to Minato, Tokyo, in April 1993. The company started supporting the 16-bit video game consoles, beginning with the Super NES in 1990, followed by the PC Engine in 1991 and the Sega Genesis in 1992.
After the Sega Saturn and PlayStation launch in 1994, Konami became a divisional business organization with various Konami Computer Entertainment subsidiaries. They started with KCE Tokyo and KCE Osaka, later known as KCE Studios, in April 1995, followed by KCE Japan, later known as Kojima Productions, in April 1996. Each KCE subsidiary would create different intellectual properties, such as KCE Tokyo's Silent Hill series and KCE Japan's Metal Gear Solid series. In 1997, Konami started producing rhythm games for arcades under the Bemani brand and branched off into the collectible card game business with the launch of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.
In July 2000, the company changed its English legal name to Konami Corporation, but the Japanese legal name remained. As the company transitioned into developing video games for the sixth-generation consoles, they branched out into the health and fitness business with the acquisitions of People Co., Ltd and Daiei Olympic Sports Club, Inc., which became Konami subsidiaries. In August 2001, the company invested in another video game publisher, Hudson Soft, which became a consolidated subsidiary after Konami accepted new third-party shares issued by them. In March 2006, Konami merged all their video game development divisions into a new subsidiary known as Konami Digital Entertainment Co., as the parent company became a pure holding company. Their headquarters were relocated to Minato, Tokyo, in 2007.
The absorption of Hudson Soft in 2012 resulted in the acquisition of several other franchises, including Adventure Island, Bonk, Bloody Roar, Bomberman, Far East of Eden, and Star Soldier.
In April 2015, Konami delisted itself from the New York Stock Exchange following the dissolution of their Kojima Productions subsidiary. The company's trade name was changed from Konami Corporation to Konami Holdings Corporation during the same month. In a translated interview with Nikkei Trendy Net published in the following month, the newly appointed president of Konami's gaming division, Hideki Hayakawa, announced that Konami would shift their focus towards mobile gaming for a while, claiming that "mobile is where the future of gaming lies."
In 2017, Konami announced that they would be reviving some of the company's other well-known video game titles following the success of their Nintendo Switch launch title Super Bomberman R.
In early 2020, Konami moved its headquarters to the Ginza district of Tokyo, which includes a facility for holding esports events and a school for esports players.
Konami announced a significant restructuring of Konami Digital Entertainment on January 25, 2021, which included the dissolution of its Product Divisions 1, 2, and 3 to be reconsolidated into a new structure to be announced later on. Konami affirmed that this would not affect their commitment to video games and was only an internal restructuring.
- Konami Holdings Corporation
- Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
- Konami Sports & Life Co., Ltd.
- Konami Amusement Co., Ltd.
- Konami Real Estate, Inc.
- KPE, Inc.
- Konami Manufacturing and Service, Inc.
- Konami Facility Service, Inc.
- KME Co., Ltd.
- Takasago Electric Industry Co., Ltd.
- Digital Golf, Inc.: On January 20, 2011, Konami Corporation announced the acquisition of Digital Golf via share exchange. Digital Golf would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Konami. The exchange became effective on March 1, 2011.
- Internet Revolution, Inc.
- Biz Share Corporation
- Combi Wellness Corporation
- The Club At Yebisu Garden Co., Ltd.
- Konami Australia Pty Ltd (established in 1996)
- Konami Corporation of America: Current U.S.-based holding company.
- Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.: Former American holding company, formerly Konami of America Inc., Konami Corporation of America. On October 13, 2003, Konami Corporation of Redwood City, California, announced it was expanding its operations to El Segundo, California, under the new name of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. The Redwood City operations had since been consolidated to El Segundo in 2007.
- Konami Gaming, Inc. in Paradise, Nevada.
- Konami Cross Media NY
- Konami Digital Entertainment B.V.: European-based holding company.
- Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH: Former holding company Europe, formerly Konami Limited, Konami Corporation of Europe B.V. On March 31, 2003, Konami of Europe announced it would be renamed Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH on April 1, 2003.
- Konami Digital Entertainment Limited: Established in September 1994 as Konami (Hong Kong) Limited. Korea and Singapore divisions were established in October 2000. In June 2001, the company changed its name to Konami Marketing (Asia) Ltd. The company was renamed Konami Digital Entertainment Limited in March 2006.
- Konami Software Shanghai, Inc.: Established in June 2000.
- Konami Digital Entertainment Co.: South Korea-based game producer and distributor, established initially as the Korea branch of Konami Digital Entertainment Limited. On May 1, 2008, it became a separate company and inherited the existing operations of the former Korean division in June 2008.
On November 7, 2005, Konami Corporation announced restructuring Konami Corporation into a holding company by moving its Japanese Digital Entertainment Business segment under Konami Corporation. As a result, the Digital Entertainment Business would become Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. The newly established Konami Corporation was expected to begin operation on March 31, 2006.
Konami Digital Entertainment
Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. is Konami's Japanese video game development and publishing division founded on March 31, 2006. Before Konami Corporation had formally changed to a holding company in 2006, various forms of Konami Digital Entertainment companies had been established either as holding companies or publishers. The last of the companies, the Japan-based Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd., was split from Konami Corporation during the holding company restructuring process.
- Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.: Japanese division, established on March 31, 2003.
- Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.: North American division, established on October 13, 2003.
- Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH: European division, established on April 1, 2003.
- Konami Digital Entertainment Limited: Hong Kong division, established in September 1994 as Konami (Hong Kong) Limited. In March 2006, it was renamed Konami Digital Entertainment Limited.
- KME Co., Ltd (KME Corporation): music division established on October 1, 2010.
Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya, Inc. (KCEN), founded on October 1, 1996, was dissolved along with Konami Computer Entertainment Kobe, Inc. (KCEK) in December 2002.
On December 16, 2004, Konami Corporation announced Konami Online, Inc., Konami Computer Entertainment Studios, Inc., Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc., and Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, Inc. would merge into Konami Corporation, effective on March 1, 2005.
On February 22, 2005, Konami Corporation announced Konami Media Entertainment, Inc. would merge into Konami Corporation, effective on March 1, 2005. On March 11, 2005, Konami Corporation announced Konami Traumer, Inc. would be reincorporated into Konami Corporation, effective on June 1, 2005.
On January 5, 2006, Konami Corporation announced the merger of Konami Sports Corporation with its parent company, Konami Sports Life Corporation. The parent would be dissolved under the union, and Konami Sports would become the wholly-owned Konami Corporation subsidiary after a stock swap between KC and KS. After the share exchange, KS would be renamed Konami Sports & Life Co., Ltd. On February 28, 2006, Konami Sports Corporation merged with its parent company, Konami Sports Life Corporation, and became Konami Sports Corporation.
On September 21, 2010, Konami Corporation announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Abilit Corporation via share exchange. After the transaction, Abilit Corporation became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Konami Corporation, effective on January 1, 2011.
On January 1, 2011, Abilit Corporation was renamed Takasago Electric Industry Co., Ltd. Biz Share Corporation also became a subsidiary of Konami Corporation as part of the acquisition.
On October 2, 2006, Konami Corporation announced it had acquired mobile phone content developer Megacyber Corporation.
On February 6, 2007, Konami Corporation announced Megacyber Corporation to be merged into Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd., with Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. being the surviving company, effective on April 1, 2007.
Major titles by Konami include the Castlevania series, the Silent Hill series, the Contra series, the Ganbare Goemon series, the Rocket Knight Adventures series, the Metal Gear series, the Suikoden series, and the Bemani rhythm game series, including Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania IIDX, GuitarFreaks, DrumMania, and Pop'n Music, among others. Other titles include Dancing with the Stars, the Tokimeki Memorial series, and the football simulation Pro Evolution Soccer.
Konami produced its shoot 'em up arcade games such as Gradius, Life Force, Time Pilot, Gyruss, Parodius, Axelay, and TwinBee. In addition, Konami's games based on cartoon licenses, especially Batman: The Animated Series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tiny Toon Adventures, and the Animaniacs series, as well as other American productions like The Simpsons, Bucky O'Hare, G.I. Joe, X-Men, and The Goonies, and the French comic Asterix all have seen release at some point in the past by Konami either on arcades or video game consoles.
Some cinematically styled franchises from Konami are the Silent Hill survival horror franchise and the Metal Gear series. Another successful franchise is Winning Eleven, the spiritual sequel to International Superstar Soccer. It is also known for the popular Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū baseball series and the Zone of the Enders games. The company had picked up Saw from Brash Entertainment when the game's production had been suspended due to financial issues.
Konami is known for its password, the Konami Code, which traditionally gives many power-ups in its games.
In 2006, Konami started producing films based on their franchises. Konami produced the Silent Hill film released in 2006 and announced making a Metal Gear Solid film.
In 2020, Konami launched a PC gaming brand in Japan known as Arespear, which developed and distributed desktop computers, keyboards, and headsets. These headsets were designed in collaboration with Konami's Bemani musicians.
Silent Hills and reduced video game development
Silent Hills, set to be the ninth installment of the Silent Hill franchise, was abruptly canceled in April 2015 without explanation despite the critical acclaim and success of a playable teaser named P.T. Hours after the announcement, Konami delisted itself from the New York Stock Exchange.
Game co-director and writer Guillermo del Toro publicly criticized the cancellation as not making sense and questioned what he described as a "scorched earth" approach to removing the trailer. Due to the experience, del Toro stated that he would never work on another video game.
Konami Digital Entertainment CEO, Hideki Hayakawa, announced that – with few exceptions – Konami would stop making console games and instead focus on the mobile gaming platform. Naturally, the video gaming community heavily criticized this decision. However, Konami UK's community manager, Graham Day, has denied the claims of Konami's departure from the console industry.
On March 3, 2015, Konami announced to shift focus away from individual studios, notably Kojima Productions. Internal sources claimed the restructure was due to a clash between Hideo Kojima and Konami. As a result, references to Kojima were soon stripped from marketing material. At the same time, Kojima's position as an executive vice president of Konami Digital Entertainment was removed from the company's official listing of executives.
Later that year, Konami's legal department barred Kojima from accepting the award for Best Action-Adventure for his work on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at The Game Awards 2015. When announced during the event, the audience booed in disapproval of Konami's actions. Host Geoff Keighley also openly expressed his disappointment. After actor Kiefer Sutherland accepted the award in Kojima's stead, a choir sang "Quiet's Theme" from The Phantom Pain as a tribute to the absent Kojima. Kojima left Konami several days afterward, re-opening Kojima Productions independently.
Treatment of Employees and Ex-Employees
In August 2015, The Nikkei criticized Konami for its unethical treatment of employees. In June 2017, The Nikkei further reported Konami's continued clashes with Kojima Productions that prevented the studio's application for health insurance. They also spoke about Konami's actions in making it difficult for former employees to get future jobs. They were notably forbidden to mention their work in Konami on their resumes. Konami also started filing complaints against other game companies that would hire ex-Konami employees, leading to an unspecified major game company warning its staff against doing so. A former employee of Konami stated: "If an ex-[Konami employee] is interviewed by the media, the company will send that person a letter through a legal representative, in some cases indicating that Konami is willing to take them to court." They also pressured an ex-employee into closing their new business.