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Konami Holdings Corporation (コナミホールディングス株式会社?), formerly known as Konami Industry (コナミ工業株式会社?) from 1973 to 1991 and then as the Konami Corporation (コナミ株式会社?) until 2015, is a Japanese manufacturer of toys, trading cards, anime, slot machines, arcade cabinets, and video game software. The company was founded in 1969 as a jukebox rental and repair business in Osaka, Japan, by Kagemasa Kozuki, the still-current chairman and chief executive officer.
The name "Konami" is a conjunction of the names Kagemasa Kozuki, Yoshinobu Nakama, Hiro Matsuda, and Shokichi Ishihara, who were partners acquired by Kozuki and the original founders of Konami Industry Co., Ltd in 1973, when they made arcade, casino machine, and video gaming development their primary focus. Konami also means "small waves."
Konami's video game development was originally handled within the parent company, but duties were gradually split among various subsidiaries throughout the years as Konami grew and expanded. Most notably Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (KCE Japan), which was formed on April 1, 1996, was the subsidiary in charge of the Metal Gear series. After Konami's various video game development studios were merged into one subsidiary known as Konami Digital Entertainment (KDE) in 2006, the former KCE Japan staff led by Hideo Kojima formed Kojima Productions within KDE to continue development of the Metal Gear franchise until Kojima's departure from the company in the end of 2015.
In addition to KDE, Konami has various subsidiaries involved in other businesses known collectively as the Konami Group. These include (but are not limited to) Konami Sports Club (dedicated to health and fitness), Konami Gaming (manufacturer of gambling machines) and KPE (formerly Konami Parlor Entertainment, manufacturer of pachinko and pachislot machines).
On March 21, 1969, Kagemasa Kozuki founded a jukebox rental/repair business in Osaka. Four years later, Kozuki transformed the business into Konami Industry Co., Ltd. and began work on manufacturing "amusement machines" for arcades. Their first actual game machine was not created until 1978. They began to achieve success with hit arcade games such as 1981's Frogger, Scramble, and Super Cobra.
In January 1979, Konami began exporting products to North America and established a logo two years later. In 1982, Konami began to develop computer games and establish Konami of America, Inc. in California, United States. The following year they began to develop MSX games.
In 1985, Konami began developing software for Nintendo's home gaming console, the Family Computer (or Famicom for short). Konami began to achieve great success when the Famicom increased in popularity, particularly after it was launched in North America as the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES). Many of the NES's bestselling titles were produced by Konami, including Gradius, the Castlevania series, the Contra series, and Metal Gear. Konami was one of the most active and prolific third party development studios for the NES, which led to conflict with Nintendo of America's licensing restrictions. During the climax of the NES, Nintendo of America controlled the production of all licensed NES software titles, and limited third party developers to a maximum of five titles per year. Several companies found a way around this restriction by founding quasi-independent subsidiary corporations, effectively doubling the number of games that they could release during the year. In the case of Konami, this subsidiary was known as Ultra Games, and a large number of Konami titles were published in North America under their banner, including the original Metal Gear and Snake's Revenge. Likewise, when various games, including the aforementioned, were being localized by Konami of America in the late NES era, several of the localizers often ignored the intended plot points of the games and frequently inserted various jokes and puns in the manuals, which led to some unpopularity with the American titles. This method was even included with the NES version of Metal Gear and Snake's Revenge, which had in-game stories.
In 1986, Hideo Kojima joined Konami's MSX home computer division in 1986 as a designer and planner. By the early 1990s, Nintendo of America had relaxed many of its licensing restrictions, resulting in Ultra Games being shut down in 1992, with the remainder of its staff being reabsorbed into Konami's official North American branch.
In 1991, Konami began to develop game engines for PC games, and the following year they began to develop games for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. In 1994, the company began developing and producing games for the PlayStation.
In the early 2000s, Konami began to develop and publish games for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and the Xbox. In 2003, Konami of America closed down their arcade division due to a large loss in revenue. In the same year, Konami teamed up with the Japanese film production company Toho Company, Ltd. to create their tokusatsu (live-action film or television drama that usually features superheroes) television series in attempt to emulate and rival the success of Toei's Super Sentai genre.
In 2005, Konami was the sixth largest game developer in Japan after Nintendo, Square Enix, Capcom, Sega, and Namco Bandai. In the same year, Kojima founded Kojima Productions, a subsidiary of Konami.
In 2011, in large part due to its growing popularity in various aspects of the gaming industry, Konami also developed for its fans the Pre-E3 Show, which allowed their consumer base to get sneak peeks at their in-development games before the actual E3 dates.
In 2012, Konami moved its development headquarters to California as a means to gain more insight into its viewers demands. Nearing the end of its second annual Pre-E3 Show, Konami unveiled details regarding some new Frogger and Midnight Carnival projects for the iPhone, Facebook and Google Chrome; PES 2013; Zone of the Enders: HD Collection; the Metal Gear 25th Anniversary; and new details for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, it also revealed a surprise for the players: that they were working on a sequel for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Whether Kojima will work on the project like he did before is not currently known, however.
In 2013, they celebrated their 40th Anniversary as a game company, and had a sale during May and June leading up to the third annual Pre-E3 Show in honor of the achievement. During the Pre-E3 Show, the company vowed to create games according to the developing market for "the next 40 years and beyond." They also developed with the aid of educators for the purpose of education Dance Dance Revolution: Classroom Edition in order to combat the obesity problem, also getting some sponsors in the form of United HealthCare, the American Diabetes Association, and First Lady of the United States from 2009 to the present Michelle Obama's Let's Move program initiative.
In March 2015, Konami had a falling out with series creator Hideo Kojima and his company Kojima Productions, which eventually led to the disbandment of the latter company and its reorganization into Number 8 Production Department, with Sadaaki Kaneyoshi being the head of the department. They also confirmed that they'll be giving more focus on the social apps than on traditional games, largely due to the huge success of the app Dragon Collection although they still will focus on console games and especially Metal Gear related games.
An article on Konami by Nikkei, a Japanese economic paper, revealed that Konami Japan's workers were undergoing poor working conditions, including lack of Internet access and only being allowed to communicate internally within the company via Number 8 Production Department; being required to have time cards printed during lunch break and being called out throughout the company if they don't return on time; cameras are implemented to monitor employees; all employees stationed within the company have randomized email addresses that are changed every few months, with only select employees outside the company such as those relating to PR having fixed email addresses; Konami developers who don't do well in the current version of the company are often reassigned to cleaning up after fitness clubs and/or acting as security guards, which extends even to members who worked on big titles; and anyone who announces they are leaving Konami on social media such as Facebook ends up being monitored and those who liked the post often ended up being reshuffled, corroborating an earlier claim that Kojima left Konami due to inherent problems within the company. Nikkei also confirmed that Kojima had been let go due to the delays for The Phantom Pain. The game costed a lot of expenses for the company.
Over the years, some of the biggest and most memorable video games have been created by Konami. Genre-defining titles attributed to Konami include the dating simulation Tokimeki Memorial and LovePlus series, the vampire hunting Castlevania series, the action/shooter Contra series, the platform/adventure Ganbare Goemon series, the espionage action Metal Gear series, the console role-playing Suikoden series, survival horror Silent Hill series and the rhythmic dancing Dance Dance Revolution (a.k.a. Dancing Stage) series.
Besides games, Konami also produces various merchandise for various games, which they also sell on their store KonamiStyle. An example of these were the Sweet Snake Figumate figurines from Konami, which depicted gender-bender versions of the characters (ie, the male characters are all female). The line was unveiled at TGS 2008.