Konnichiwa Konami

Vidgame maker moves HQ to Los Angeles

Japanese videogame maker Konami is relocating its headquarters to Los Angeles as part of a move it hopes will not only boost its presence in the United States, but also among Hollywood’s players.

Company is trying to capitalize on Hollywood’s interest in adapting games into films as a way of strengthening the Konami brand worldwide.

Konami has already licensed the rights to its popular horror franchise “Silent Hill” to producer Samuel Hadida’s Davis Films (“True Romance,” “Brotherhood of the Wolf”), which is in production on a sequel to game adaptation “Resident Evil” for Screen Gems.

Gans is game

“Brother of the Wolf” helmer Christophe Gans is attached to direct the “Silent Hill” film.

The three “Silent Hill” games have sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. Game’s third installment was released in August for Sony’s PlayStation 2.

Konami is looking for similar film deals for its best-selling “Castlevania,” “Contra,” “Metal Gear” and “Silent Scope” franchises.

Gamemaker’s Los Angeles office will be named Konami Digital Entertainment and focus on global product and brand growth strategies, business development and licensing activities.

Kazumi Kitaue, the executive corporate officer of Konami’s computer and videogames business, will serve as the CEO of the new office.

U.S. expansion

“In the Japanese market, we’re the No. 1 third-party publisher,” Kitaue told Daily Variety. “But in the U.S. and Europe, we’re growing our market share but we’re certainly not number one. Just knowing people’s habits is a barrier we need to overcome and you can’t do that unless you’re in the territory.”

Company wanted to be closer to Hollywood’s creative community in order to recruit talent or broker deals for the development of its games.

“Los Angeles is known as the entertainment capital of the world,” Kitaue said. “We believe that Los Angeles is the ideal location for strengthening Konami’s content business strategy. This move will provide us with the proximity to the partners that will allow us to maintain and expand Konami’s position as a front runner in the digital entertainment industry, and lead to further growth in Konami’s global business.”

Creative control

As for producing films based on its games, Konami will help develop each films’ script and designs, but leave much of the creative to the filmmakers.

“Konami isn’t a movie company so we’re not the experts at it,” Kitaue said. “When we license a title, we’re going to let the production company run with it.”

Konami becomes the latest vidgame player to significantly increase its presence in the Los Angeles area. Electronic Arts is planning to build a large game development and production studio in Playa Vista, initially for 500 staffers. Activision and THQ are based in the area.

By the end of the year, Konami plans to employ 30 staffers at its new L.A. office. It is considering recruiting entertainment execs.

Company will also rename its Redwood City, Calif.-based North American sales, marketing, and operations subsid, Konami of America, to Konami Digital Entertainment America, a division of Konami Digital Entertainment.

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