Japan's video game visionary: the console is dying

TOKYO Wed Apr 7, 2010 8:56am EDT

A man plays Sony's PlayStation 3 game console as logo of Sony's PlayStation displayed at the Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, east of Tokyo September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

A man plays Sony's PlayStation 3 game console as logo of Sony's PlayStation displayed at the Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, east of Tokyo September 24, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Hideo Kojima, one of the world's most famous video game creators, sees a future for digital entertainment outside the box -- outside any box.

Kojima, whose "Metal Gear Solid" games have sold more than 27 million copies, says the future of video gaming is on networks that will free players from consoles supplied by the likes of his long-time partner Sony Corp.

"In the near future, we'll have games that don't depend on any platform," Kojima said at a news conference announcing the latest installment in a game saga that began in 1987.

"Gamers should be able to take the experience with them in their living rooms, on the go, when they travel -- wherever they are and whenever they want to play. It should be the same software and the same experience," he said.

Kojima was speaking at an event in Tokyo to detail plans for the late April launch of "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker," a video game he developed and directed and Konami Corp is launching for Sony's portable PSP device.

The prediction of a future without game machines from a figure regarded as both creative maverick and commercial dynamo appeared to rattle a Sony executive on hand for the event.

"It's a bold prediction," Sony Computer Entertainment Japan President Hiroshi Kawano told reporters with a nervous smile. "We hope he continues to develop for platforms, but we deeply respect his sense of taking on a challenge."

"Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" goes on sale in Japan at the end of April and the United States and Europe in June.

Kojima, 46, is known for sneaking pacifist themes into a game series that features stealth combat and elaborate plot lines that often reflect on the dangers of technology.

The latest installment features Metal Gear's mercenary hero, Snake, as he and a group of soldiers of fortune set off to save Costa Rica from invasion in 1974 by a mysterious army.

Kojima said players are rewarded for cooperating and encouraged to stun and capture -- not kill -- enemy soldiers they encounter in order to put them to work.

"This is software that develops management skills," Kojima said. "You can even fire workers, something that you can't really do in real life. In the game, I couldn't stop doing it."

Kojima has said he hopes to develop movies as well as video games. Like recent Hollywood productions, his latest game is packed with product placements to bring in additional revenue, including AXE bodywash from Unilever and Doritos corn chips and Mountain Dew from PepsiCo.

Kojima said he hoped the release of the new game on Sony's PSP device would give his development team a sense of what works in portable gaming in preparation for his vision of gaming on demand over the Internet.

"I looked at this in part as an experiment aimed at the future," he said.

(Editing by Nathan Layne)

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