Was Metal Gear Solid 5′s reveal a PR plan too far?

Hands up if your mind is Metal Gear muddled? Phew, me too. Not to trumpet my own shamefully obsessive horn, but I’ve finished every MGS multiple times. And you know what? I still found Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain’s protracted reveal that culminated at yesterday’s Game Developers Conference thoroughly confusing. MGS 5 on PS3 will be amazing, no question. But did Kojima Productions really need to make the whole process so confusing?

The last few months have seen the interwebs set alight with Big Boss-related statements and counter-claims from MGS fans confused about how Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain fit together. Sure, now we know that the two projects are merely different parts of the larger MGS 5, rather than separate games. Yet ever since the latter’s reveal at last December’s Spike TV Awards, the picture surrounding the next Metal Gear has been painfully unclear.

The whole affair has likely confused far more people than it has delighted those that enjoy a trademark Kojima wool-pulling moment

Was Ground Zeroes the PS3 game? Would The Phantom Pain be a PS4 spin-off? Did Konami really intend to release two different games, starring the same character, using the same Fox Engine technology over such a short period of time? It’s all (semi) clear now, though the whole affair has likely confused far more people intending to buy MGS 5 than it has delighted those that enjoy a trademark Kojima wool-pulling moment.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if gamers pop up on the OPM Twitter feed over the months asking where MGS: Ground Zeroes is. Though the game is and always was MGS 5, some people will perhaps see that Phantom Pain subtitle and jump to the conclusion that Zeroes has been canned.

Perhaps my sense of surprise is ridiculous. After all, Koj has made a career out of subverting expectations. He’s always enjoyed playing the press like a well worn accordion. Hell, he deliberately tinkered with the MGS 2 trailers to superimpose Snake into scenes the then unknown Raiden would eventually star in. It’s nothing to get overly worked up about, of course. We are ultimately dealing with entertainment. And Kojima’s theatrical parlour tricks have caused the sort of furiously excitable speculation most PR departments would kill to conjure up.

Think about it. By presenting two potential new Metal Gear games you generate twice the stories and twice the hype for what ends up being merely one title. Creating more press for your game is obviously a good thing, but has the amount of confusion created really done Metal Gear Solid 5 that many favours?

We now know the game will be mainly composed of the sort of open-world gameplay hinted at during Ground Zeroes’ reveal at last year’s Tokyo Games Show. Likewise, Kojima has now explained the trippy hospital escape seen in the first Phantom Pain trailer will act as a linear tutorial to get you ready for the more expansive experience that will form the majority of MGS 5. Really, though, couldn’t Kojima Productions just have been up front about this from the get go?