Hideo Kojima
Hideo Kojima (right), was not allowed to attend the Game Awards 2015 by Konami lawyers, according to host Geoff Keighley. AFP

It should have been a great year for Konami following the massive success of "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain." Instead of celebrating the latest entry in the franchise at the Game Awards 2015, the company is at the center of a new controversy involving its relationship with employees. Hideo Kojima, "Metal Gear Solid" designer, was banned from attending the show by Konami's lawyers, according to the Game Awards' Geoff Keighley.

"Mr. Kojima had every intention of being with us tonight, but unfortunately he was informed by a lawyer representing Konami just recently that he would not be allowed to travel to tonight's award ceremony to accept any awards," Keighley said during the Game Awards broadcast. Another award given to "MGS V" at the PlayStation Awards -- an event Kojima regularly attended in the past -- was accepted by a Konami representative.

(skip to 2:06:33 for Keighley's comments).

The critical and commercial acclaim comes with a curious predicament. There is no way to discuss "Metal Gear Solid" without mentioning Kojima, the game's designer and industry icon. Kojima's status is a bit of mystery. Konami says he is under contract despite many reports that he left, but it's just one example of how it is said to treat its employees. A Nikkei report highlighted low morale and harsh restrictions -- lack of Internet access, public shaming for running over the allotted time for lunch breaks and cameras that track employee movement -- that are part of the everyday experience working at Konami, which is headquartered in Tokyo.

Thursday's Game Awards was the most public example of the feud yet. Despite removing the designer's name from Konami's site or "Kojima Productions" from "MGS V," Konami has remained pretty cryptic about Kojima's status. In response to the New Yorker report that Kojima left the company, Konami issued a statement saying the designer is taking a long vacation following the completion of "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain."

"Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain" won Best Action/Adventure game at the Game Awards 2015. On Twitter, Kojima retweeted users who were critical of Konami's decision.