A recent handful of news and rumors has suggested that famed ‘Metal Gear Solid’ creator Hideo Kojima will be leaving Konami after the release of the upcoming ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.’

Initial speculation towards the rumor of Kojima leaving began on Reddit and NeoGAF after users noted that the creator’s name and his Kojima Productions label were being removed from official ‘Metal Gear Solid’ artwork, websites and social media accounts. The label had also disappeared from the former Kojima Productions’ LA Office, which has been officially renamed Konami Los Angeles Studio. Additionally, Kojima is no longer listed as an Executive officer at Konami according to an official report released on March 4.

To address some of this recent behavior and concerns over the rumor, Konami issued the official statement below:

“As we have already announced, we are shifting our production structure to a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business. Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements.”

From the statement, all appears to be well between Kojima’s studio and Konami. But according to a report by Gamespot, an anonymous source has firmly suggested otherwise making claims of a falling out between the two sides due to a power struggle.

The anonymous source made light of the extraordinary measures enacted by Konami to combat Kojima Productions, which include restricted communications via corporate internet, phone and emails between senior staff and the publisher, limited opportunities for staff to lend their appearance to promote ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’ and even downgrading senior staff into contract workers, including Kojima himself.

“After we finish MGSV, Mr. Kojima and upper management will leave Konami. They said their contract ends in December,” the anonymous source commented to Gamespot. “At a team meeting, Mr. Kojima explained that team have to be one and make a good game for fans.”

Kojima has gone on to comment on situation: “I want to reassure fans that I am 100 percent involved and will continue working on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; I’m determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date. Don’t miss it!”

As of writing, Konami has still not commented on the matter specifically. However, the publisher has already officially initiated plans to move forward with the franchise, and have already issued out a recruitment call for development staff on a new ‘Metal Gear’ game.  The statement reads below:

“Konami will continue to develop and distribute top-quality content in the Metal Gear series following Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. We greatly anticipate and deeply appreciate your ongoing support for Metal Gear. As the next step in the series, Konami has already resolved to develop a new Metal Gear title. We will be conducting auditions for main staff to lead the development. Interested parties are encouraged to contact us to via the recruitment page of the Konami official website.”

‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’ is scheduled to release on September 1 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC.

Source: Reddit, NeoGAF, Konami 1, 2, 3Gamespot 1, 2