Video game maker Konami closing down Hawaii offices
Marking the loss of what was once a major employer of digital artists in Hawaii, Tokyo-based Konami Corp. will close its video-game studio in Waikiki by year's end.
Konami Computer Entertainment Hawaii executives would not say precisely why Konami is closing the facility, located in the Waikiki Galleria Office Tower, which once employed dozens of designers.
Confronted about the rumored closing, Konami issued a three-sentence statement late last week. "In the late fall of this year, Konami will be closing its Honolulu, Hawaii, office in order to streamline operations," the company said. "We regret that this necessary business decision will affect approximately 40 employees. Where it is possible, Konami has been providing and will continue providing positions to these employees at other locations within the company."
Konami is perhaps best known as the developer of the video game "Frogger," which was a blockbuster game decades ago. More recently in Hawaii, the company developed updates of the "Frogger" game, including "Frogger Beyond" and "Frogger's Adventures 2: The Lost Wand." The Hawaii studio also developed a series of dancing games, including "Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix" for the Xbox console.
John Strom, vice president and director of business development and technology for the economic development organization Enterprise Honolulu, said Konami's decision to close the Waikiki studio is part of a global reorganization of the Japanese giant founded in 1969 as a jukebox repair and rental company.
Konami is phasing out game development in the United States altogether while shifting work to its digital entertainment and casino gaming facilities in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, said Strom, who said he has spoken to Konami executives to find out what, if anything, could be done to keep the studio in Waikiki. Although Konami's reorganization means a job boom for its development center in Las Vegas, Strom said, it leaves Hawaii out.
If there is a silver lining, Strom said, it is that Konami did not cite any unhappiness with Hawaii as a reason for closing.
"The good news is it has nothing to do with Hawaii," Strom said.
Although Konami said that 40 workers would be affected, Strom said the office already has dwindled to only a dozen or so employees.
Konami's departure hardly means the total elimination of a game industry in Hawaii. Last year, Jamdat Mobile Inc. paid $137 million to acquire Manoa-based Blue Lava Wireless LLC, a startup whose biggest hit was a version of the video game "Tetris" that can be played on cellular phones.
Jamdat was later swallowed up by video game giant Electronic Arts, which operates in Hawaii as EA Mobile Hawaii.