Last week, we finally started getting some solid (haha) details on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, as well as its prologue, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. One of those details was that the voice actor who’d portrayed Snake since the first Metal Gear Solid for the original PlayStation back in 1998, David Hayter, would not be returning. So while we know that he’s not coming back, the mystery of why still remains—even to Hayter himself.
The actor/writer/director posted a long-Tweet yesterday to explain how everything went down from his point of view. After learning that recording sessions on MGS 5 had begun, he called someone involved in the game’s production:
“We got togerther for lunch, and he told me that they ‘wouldn’t be needing me’ on this game. No reason, or explanation was given beyond that.
And that was it.”
As unceremonious as that was, Hayter takes time in his post to reflect on his work on the games and his time spent helping to craft the identity of one of gaming’s most iconic and memorable characters:
“To be clear, I love being a part of the world of Metal Gear. I admire its technological innovations, the gameplay, the political message of it all. But primarily, I love the fans of these games. Two grown men burst into tears upon meeting me at the Vancouver Fan Expo last year.
Now that… Is a rare and excellent role. You know you’re making an impact.
And I love doing it.
In 1998, I tried to do come up with a voice which epitomized the kind of worn, put-upon, genetically-engineered clone-soldier that I saw Snake to be. Over time, as the games became more stunning and visually sophisticated, I tried to transition that initial voice into the increasingly real environments in which Snake found himself. My level of success is up to you, but any perceived deficiencies were not for lack of hard work. I have dedicated a huge amount of time and effort into creating a compelling character, capable of expressing the myriad emotional, physical and psychological hurdles that Snake has to face.
Anyway, now it’s been fifteen years, nine games, and an enormous blast to undertake.”
We may never know the full truth behind why Hideo Kojima and his team wanted to move on from having Hayter portray Snake. It may be as simple as the half-explanation he gave last week—that this is a new kind of game, so he wanted a new kind of Snake. Either way, it’s sad to see someone who defined a role in such an important way get the boot with no real discussion or understanding of why. If it helps, the fans are right there with you, and we’re all sorry to see you go.