Death Stranding Director’s Cut?
Contributed by DJMMT
Let the records show that I have played all the Metal Gear games going all the way back to the original MSX titles. Not only have I played them, but I played them all in order back-to-back as recently as 2016. I’ve even played Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and the beta for Metal Gear Survive. I also own and eventually plan to play the PS4 port of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner and Death Stranding. So while I am not a fan of Kojima or his seminal franchise, do not accuse me of being a troll who has never played his games and just hates on him because it’s trendy.
I don’t want to imply that Kojima is incapable of having good ideas and creating good games. On the contrary, I actually think Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a phenomenal game that shows the best the franchise and stealth action games from that time period had to offer. I also think Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots was quite good and had probably my favorite camo gameplay mechanic of all time. I am absolutely willing to give credit where credit is due. I just think too many people give him credit where it’s not due and praise him for things, both in and out of his games, that should absolutely not be celebrated.
Probably my biggest issue with Kojima is his constant need to do things that serve no purpose other than to garner attention for no valid reason and paint himself as a victim of reality itself. His most recent example of this is the announcement of a Death Stranding “Director’s Cut”.
The term director’s cut comes from the film industry. Contrary to popular belief, directors don’t actually make movies. Directors manage movie production projects. Producers make movies. They hire directors to execute their vision and leverage their names for the purposes of marketing. A director is to a producer what an actor is to a director. An employee that, due to popularity and public support, gets a lot of leeway in the execution of their job, even if the person ultimately employing them isn’t happy with their work. The term “director’s cut” was created to describe a scenario where a director made a movie differently from what the producers wanted. So the producers ultimately cut and released their vision for the film, but then later allowed the director’s vision for the film to be released.
The term director’s cut became popular with the film Blade Runner (1982). 10 years after the film’s original release, Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut of Blade Runner was released. The implication being that the original theatrical cut of the film was not his vision. The irony being that he did not actually create the “Director’s Cut” either. He simply gave extensive notes and consultation to Warner Bros., who ultimately had a completely different person who wasn’t even involved in the original production edit what was ultimately released as the “Director’s Cut”. It wasn’t until 2007 with Blade Runner “The Final Cut” that a version of the film was released that allowed the director full creative control. What this should tell you is two important things:
- Theatrical movie releases have never been about the director’s vision. Unless a director is producing, usually at executive level, movies are and have always been about the producer’s vision. And let’s be clear, when a director is the executive producer, you’re still getting the producer’s vision rather than the director’s. It just so happens that those two positions are held by the same person.
- Director’s cuts have been a lie since the term became popular. They are and have always been a marketing ploy in order for studios and film distributors to make more money on products that have started to fizzle out in profitability while continuing to maintain some level of status in the contemporary pop culture zeitgeist.
Kojima Productions is Hideo Kojima’s baby. He’s the executive producer, the head designer, the lead writer, the main profiteer, and everything else of note within that studio. It’s literally his development studio. Everything that comes out of that studio is his vision. So can someone please explain to me how the hell there’s going to be a director’s cut of a game made by a studio where the director’s name is literally on the studio? It’s this kind of dramatic, pompous, inflammatory bullshit that makes me dislike Kojima.
What’s actually happening here is that Death Stranding, like 90% of all AAA games releasing since the PS4 launched, is adding paid DLC. Along with that, there’s going to be a “complete” edition where you can buy the game with “all” the DLC. I put all in quotes because I wouldn’t put it past Kojima for a second to go on to add more paid DLC later. But rather than give it a normal gaming industry title like Legendary Edition, Complete Edition, GOTY Edition, or even something funny like “Mailman Edition”, Kojima has go out of his way to portray himself as some amazing visionary that has been slighted by the limitations of our cruel, capitalist society and call it his “Director’s Cut”. The implication being that the original release of Death Stranding was not a true realization of his vision, because reasons. It is insulting to the countless writers, directors, and other content creators that struggle to get their work produced and are actually forced by monetary interests to change their vision when a person like Kojima abuses words like director’s cut.
The funny thing is my dislike for Kojima isn’t even really Kojima’s fault. It’s his fans. He’s a hack that intentionally does things to garner attention so that his cult continues supporting whatever he does, no matter how ridiculous and financially questionable. But I can’t fault a man for playing the game well. I can only hope that one day I too come up with a racket effective enough to get people to shovel money at me for delivering mediocre products that seem creative by allowing people to describe them with buzzwords like “subversive” and “transformative”. He’s not the problem. It’s all the people knowingly supporting his bullshit. It’s no different than any other modern day influencer, director, actor, comedian, or politician. You don’t make money in 2021 by doing things well. You make money by convincing people that they like what you’re doing.
To be clear, I have no problem with additional content being adding to Death Stranding. I don’t know how much or what type of content will be added, so I can’t comment on its cost yet. But I think it’s perfectly normal in 2021 for a recent game to add DLC and a next gen edition of a game. I just dislike the fact that Kojima decided to call it a “director’s cut” and that people are already defending that decision and constructing narratives about how things like development costs and deadlines prevented the launch version from realizing his true vision. That’s literally every piece of entertainment that has ever existed. There is always more a person or team can add to something. It could always look better, sound better, and be better in general given an unlimited amount of time, talent, and money. But that’s the entire challenge of creating entertainment products. The accomplishment is in having created something great in the face of all those limitations. The fact that it has become trendy for some people to invoke terms like “director’s cut” to undercut and ignore the reality of creating art since the beginning of producing art for profit is dishonest and discourteous to all the creatives that have worked tirelessly only to never have their art seen by the masses. The latest version of Death Stranding is no more sensible to call a director’s cut than it is to call George Lucas’ several rereleases of the original Star Wars movies director’s cuts. They’re cash grabs. Nothing more. Nothing less.