With talk of Hideo Kojima partnering with Microsoft to make his next game, a take that’s surfaced is the idea of Xbox buying Metal Gear. I’ve seen the idea before when discussing Microsoft’s recent slate of acquisitions but the most ‘bad gamer hot take’ version of it I’ve seen was pitched by Forbes’ Erik Kain yesterday.
Kain has a history of posting gems like ‘The ‘Very Worst Video Game Site On The Internet’ Award Goes To…’ and ‘Halo Infinite, Fake Cortana and the End of Sexy’ on his Substack, as well as ‘Chris Avellene [sic] Strikes Back’ on his Forbes’ column that betray a regressive brand of pop culture journalism. But in his latest, he proposes that Microsoft attempt “a significant victory in the console wars.”
“While I doubt this new game partnership between Microsoft and Kojima Productions has anything to do with Metal Gear, it did get me thinking,” Kain writes. “So why doesn’t Microsoft buy the franchise? If Microsoft could get the rights to Metal Gear and put Kojima back in the helm […] it would certainly be a huge win for Xbox Series X and—perhaps more importantly—Xbox Game Pass.”
It’s tempting to entertain these kinds of thoughts. Rescuing a beloved property from the clutches of a company that has no interest in its future. Positioning a platform holder with improving fortunes and greater PR standing as a potential savior. And ultimately, securing a win. Some people love this kind of story, but I don’t as it plays into the idea of the good guy corporation and gamer entitlement.
Look, I get it. I have my fair share of gaming worlds and characters that have fallen into obscurity, or seen their futures cut short by the caprice or myopia of executives. But to advocate a rescue operation on the IP front does less for platform holders like Microsoft and only feeds into this idea that Metal Gear diehards are owed restitution for their franchise loyalty.
To suggest that Xbox buying Metal Gear fits into Microsoft’s strategy is to suggest that their acquisitions are about high profile properties. But Xbox Game Studios has demonstrated greater interest in the creation of new experiences than in the fattening their library with the portfolios of companies.
On numerous podcasts and interviews, Xbox boss Phil Spencer is emphatic about empowering creators and you don’t do that by asking them to bank a future on old but beloved properties, you do that by ensuring they have the secure footing to build new ones. Moreso, it’s unlikely they spent several billion dollars to lock down old Bethesda properties, but instead to secure a future with Starfield and Redfall.
The same argument applies to any of its other first party studios. While the future of Outer Worlds is now for Obsidian Entertainment to define, it’s their work on Grounded, Avowed and Josh Sawyer’s top secret ‘Project Missouri’ that keeps the furnace going. Even the Initiative’s Perfect Dark project is a resurrection of IP that has been in a moribund state for so long it might as well be new.
Now I’m not saying that Metal Gear’s future deserves to be doomed in the hands of Konami, a company that refuses to define a creative future for it and other fan favorite properties like Silent Hill. Kain’s suggestion may excite a large, passionate fanbase but it is a limiting choice amidst a sea of other choices, like the partnership Microsoft is on the brink of with Kojima.