Tokyo Stabbing Puts Damper on Konami's MGS4 Launch

Posted by: Kenji Hall on June 11

Konami seems to have caved to the notion that video game violence begets violence. The company has canceled three events in Japan for the launch of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patrios for the PlayStation 3 after last weekend’s stabbings in Akihabara, Tokyo’s popular electronics and anime district. A 25-year-old man, who was arrested by police at the scene of the crime, is suspected of driving his truck into a crowd of people, killing three, and then stabbing more than a dozen others, including four fatally. He has yet to be charged with a crime (in Japan, prosecutors have 20 days to charge a suspect with a crime before they must release him).

The attack has been the top news since Sunday and many pundits have weighed in about what might have driven the man to go on his killing rampage. Worried that MGS4’s knife-wielding protagonist, Old Snake, might draw unwanted scrutiny, Konami has canceled the day’s events for MGS4. Among the the events was one that had been slated for Akihabara. The company announced its move on its Japanese-language Web site, and apologized to fans. Events in other parts of the world for the game’s global launch were to proceed as scheduled. There has been so much hype and anticipation over the release of MGS4—for anyone who hasn’t been watching, check out creator Hideo Kojima’s blog—I doubt either the killings or Konami’s decision will have much impact on sales.

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No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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