In August 2014, a historic video game collaboration took place. Hideo Kojima, film director Guillermo del Toro, and publisher Konami came together to create a free downloadable title called “Playable Teaser,” or P.T. This interactive teaser for the the upcoming entry in the Silent Hill series, Silent Hills, became an immediate talking point among fans and started a long, odd journey that represents all Konami has become.
Konami achieved the impossible with the help of two masterminds and changed the world of gaming horror with a simple demo that served as a peek at what promised to be the most ambitious horror game of a generation. But less than a year later, on April 29, 2015, Konami pulled the plug, removing P.T. from the PlayStation store and canceling Silent Hills. This swift shutdown prompted a war over history between fans who wanted to see a pivotal moment preserved and a company that wanted it scrubbed from the record entirely.
A new era of horror
P.T. is a game that is still praised for being one of the most experimental and complex horror experiences there is. Seemingly taking notes from a newer generation of mainstream and indie horror games, P.T. evolved from the classic third-person view of older Silent Hill games and took horror into first-person territory. That not only made the scares scarier, but it helped create a more immersive world — if you can consider a looping hallway and two rooms a world.
But that loop is where the true horror lies. As players make their way through the house countless times, more disparities appear. The maddening journey sparked feelings of mystery, insanity, and anxiety within the hallowed halls. Random jump scares and cryptic puzzles helped build a sense of growing dread, reminding players that they were still playing a classic survival-horror game.
The teaser received praise from casual players and critics alike. For weeks, no one could stop talking about P.T. Despite the acclaim, Konami shut down the Silent Hills project and took P.T. down with it. The playable teaser was removed from the PlayStation store and further downloads, including reinstallations from those with a license for the game, were blocked.
What Konami didn’t realize was a game with over 1 million downloads wasn’t going to be taken down so easily.
The fight to save P.T.
The initial reaction to the teaser’s delisting was about what one would expect from the internet. It prompted thousands of angry reactions from social media, petitions to bring back the game, and opportunists who began selling PlayStation 4s with P.T. installed on eBay, with some listings in the four-figure range. You can even look now and find PS4 listings still advertising an installed version of P.T. as a plus.
For those of us that can’t spend $1,000 on a whim for a movie-length experience, a few cape-less heroes emerged and tried their best to save us from a teaser-less future.
In October 2014, a fan-made remake of P.T. brought horror to Xbox consoles through Microsoft’s game creator, Project Spark. This remake, titled R.T., reimagined the demo in the game-maker’s engine and was quickly celebrated by those who missed out the first time or wanted another taste of the demo. Unfortunately, that project vanished when Xbox did away with Project Spark and its servers in 2016. Another remake came in the form of a ground-up PC version that was quickly shut down by Konami, keeping P.T. in the dark for that much longer.
During this remake frenzy, fans scrambled to keep P.T. alive in various other ways. Twitch streamer Lance McDonald recently recounted how those with download licenses attempted to use a proxy server to redirect P.T.‘s .json and .pkg links to a custom one, allowing for further download of the game on jailbroken PlayStation 4’s.
Despite Konami’s takedown of the game and deletion of its .json and .pkg files from PlayStation servers, the attempt from fans was a success and those with the right know-how returned the game to their consoles. But Konami wasn’t going to let the horror story have a happy ending.
Konami strikes back
Reports show that Konami went out of its way to blacklist P.T. from the PlayStation 5, as the company told GamesRadar: “[P.T.] will not be available on the PS Store, so users won’t be able to re-download the content through the backward-compatibility feature to the PS5.”
A Polygon report showed that the game once worked thanks to data transfer from PS4 to PS5, so what went wrong? Well, that same report carries a statement from Sony stating that the choice to end P.T.’s new-gen compatibility “was a publisher decision.”
The push to recreate the experience stands as a testament to how far fans will go to save something they see as important.
P.T.‘s story marked the beginning and quick evolution of the gaming horror genre into a new beast altogether. Its gameplay formula and philosophies were and still are praised for the new elements it brought to the table, and its presence is felt in many projects in the genre that followed behind (looking at you Resident Evil 7 and Visage).
Years later, there is no official way to legally play P.T. due to Konami’s decision to wipe the game from everywhere possible despite a strong outcry from fans, casual players, and critics alike. This story highlights another complicated battle for game preservation that gaming fans fight on a regular basis.
The only ways to experience the Silent Hill sequel that could have been are through a spotty PS4 jailbreak method, dropping a dime on an overpriced console, or playing the unofficial PC remake, Unreal PT. No matter the choice, the push to recreate the experience stands as a testament to how far fans will go to save something they see as important despite Konami, the game’s actual creator, not seeing things the same.