Konami Is A Yakuza Front

Organized crime in videogames? Say it ain't so!

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Strange things have been going on in the world of Videogames, GameCola faithful. One of the longest-running AAA third party publishers, Konami, has suddenly gone mad and is spiraling into decline. Firing Hideo Kojima, cancelling Silent Hills and all future projects, and investing in pachinko machines sound like the actions of a mad king and not one of the leading videogame publishers for the past three decades.

But what if I told you, GameCola readers, that perhaps this is not the mad decline of a beloved company? What if this was something far more sinister? As suggested by the title, I believe Konami is a front for the Yakuza—The Japanese Mafia.

There's actually a mission about this very article

Unavailable to comment as of the article’s publishing.

I understand this sounds crazy, but to consider it you must first consider the reasons why the Yakuza would invest in a videogame company at all! Money, obviously—but to what end? Well, money laundering of course! Konami could be funded through three types of money laundering, and thanks to the dirty money flowing into them, they’ve been able to make some of the most memorable games of the past three decades.

Obviously with videogames being a cash-intensive business (while not directly handling physical money, it is a business where operating costs and generated revenue can vary greatly) that’s one angle of money laundering. The next being trade-based, where invoices and other financial documents feature fabrications which obscure exactly how much money is coming into and out of the company. The final suspected method would be through a shell company, as benefactors of Konami may not necessarily need to name themselves or the source of their funds when they’re funneling money into the company. So, here’s Konami’s use to the Yakuza, but why are they suddenly destroying the company?

The Destruction of Man

What has probably happened is Konami has outgrown its usefulness, and they’re trying to liquidate it. This is demonstrated by way of first and foremost firing Kojima. Cancelling anticipated titles such as Silent Hills also helps to liquidate the company’s assets even further. Creating pachinko machines with the famous branding of Konami also helps with this process. Perhaps the most insidious part of it is the open-world survival horror Metal Gear that’s coming out soon.

How does all of this contribute to liquidating Konami? It destroys consumer trust in the brand by getting rid of the mastermind, cancelling anticipated titles, creating titles that the core demographic is not interested in, and then releasing high profile titles guaranteed to flop. While most of this seems pretty standard, the pachinko machines sound more like an investment—except they’re also an essential part of the Yakuza money laundering scheme!

Money goes in, and more comes out!

Pachinko is also a cash-intensive business! Putting Konami brands on pachinko machines is just the next step, obviously! You use the brand to attract people familiar with it—the older crowd that’s given up videogames or perhaps younger gamblers—and aside from that turnout, they’re still useful methods for laundering the money. The Yakuza have a history of using pachinko machines as a method of money laundering, much like how casinos were used by the Italian Mafia in America, and it simply works because you can’t actually trace where the money that was put into the machines came from.  Given the low operational cost of a pachinko parlor, this makes pachinko a very good source of money, and especially in this case a useful way to liquidate Konami’s assets further, and destroy consumer trust in the brand once again.

Farewell Konami!

We salute the memory of this dead videogame titan!

What I expect to be done with this information is absolutely nothing. Most Konami games exist outside of GameCola’s scope (our scope being Gaming Outside the Mainstream), and so we’re not really interested in covering them. This has, in fact, been covered by several mainstream media outlets as well. But one of GameCola’s trademarks is being two years late to the party, so here we are! If you’re curious about organized crime in Japan you should probably play the Yakuza series, as it’s not only a modern take on the classic brawler, but also a dramatization of Yakuza affairs!

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About the Contributor

Since 2013

Obviously, I'm Robyn. I'm a nonbinary godmonster(my pronouns are ze/hir), into videogames, and other stuff. I'm back to writing about gender and videogames and why you're secretly trans for playing Metroid on an emulator.


  1. honestlg even as an American I kinda realized this a long long time ago. I mean The Konami family is a pretty well known Yakuza family even to us Westerners. However I think its actually more like they were and use video ganes to go legit and stop being illegal. Which honestly I can respect. I think its well known however that the Family became the Konami gaming company. At least they changed their ways and became a legitimate business and moved away from criminal enterprises. Sure pachinko and other gqmblibg is a typical mafia business however its also now legal so its not like they doing anything criminsl by having an afult gambling and gaming part to their company. the fact that Konami waa a Yakuza family first however can’t be ignored but may actually be a positive sign that criminals can choose to change and grow and be better.

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