What is the value of Konami's disdain and lack of caring?
If you didn't download it by yesterday, P.T. is gone. The game was intended to be a playable teaser for Silent Hills, the latest game in Konami's Silent Hill franchise. Silent Hills was being developed by Kojima Productions in collaboration with director Guillermo del Toro, but like Del Toro's Insane at THQ, it wasn't meant to be. Konami officially cancelled the game yesterday, following hints last month with veteran developer Hideo Kojima is on his way out at the company. (Something we still lack confirmation for, by the way.) Kojima was going to do Silent Hills following the release of Metal Gear Solid V, but that's not happening anymore.
I'm not worried about Kojima. He'll land on his feet. He will find some investor or publisher to scoop him up. Alternatively, he'll go independent and make new Metal Gear, Snatcher, Zone of Enders, or Silent Hill games with the serial numbers filed off. Maybe he'll even make new games! The problem is what's left behind in his departure.
With no Silent Hills, Konami sees no reason to keep P.T. around. From a business standpoint, why keep running an ad for a product you've cancelled?
P.T. was a digital-only PlayStation 4 exclusive. The only copies that exist of the game at this point are PS4 owners who already downloaded it. From a preservation standpoint, P.T. is the ultimate nightmare: What's out there is all that exists and it's tied to PlayStation Network accounts, which players are reticent to give up.
What is the value of a game that you can't get any longer?
According to Ebay, somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 to 1,500. That's what sellers are charging for PlayStation 4 systems with P.T. already installed. As I said before, the P.T. download is tied to the PSN account, not the console. If you've already downloaded the game on PS4, you have the ability to re-download it at any time. So really you're paying for a regular PS4 with a super-special account already attached. Perhaps a white PS4 is worth more, but a black PS4 with P.T. for $800? Someone's laughing all the way to the bank.
It doesn't have to be this way of course. I have no clue what Sony charges Konami to keep P.T. up on the PlayStation Store. If it's nothing, Konami could simply fix scalpers by keeping the game up indefinitely. Hell, they could make a bit of money by giving P.T. a small price tag. $1-5 is solid price for such a curiosity; a teaser without a product. The publisher is denying itself a potential revenue stream. That doesn't seem like good business.
What's the value of a good horror game?
P.T. is free now. Before, regardless of what it was, P.T. was always the lead-in for Silent Hills. It didn't share gameplay with that planned future release, but the endgame of playing P.T. was to see that Silent Hills trailer. Now, P.T. has been cut loose. It stands alone. If you play P.T. now, you're just playing it for what it is.
P.T. is a weird creation. You occupy a single, looping corridor with only a few doors. Your interactions are limited. Success seems predicated on randomness: sometimes the corridor is lit, sometimes there are phone messages, sometimes the bathroom door is open. There is a single spectre, Lisa, that can interact with you. Explained like that, P.T. sounds like the marketing fluff it's intended to be.
P.T. does not sprawl. That's what makes it work, it's focused and frightening. You are trapped in every sense of the word and the only freedom is finishing the game or turning off your system. You lack any sort of weapons to deal with the evil apparition. And since P.T. is confined to a single corridor is various-random loops, it doesn't overstay its welcome.
"[P.T.] was an experiment in making a horror game with the Fox Engine, but it had to look like an independent developer [made the] game," Kojima said at Gamescom last year (via Polygon). "So we had to drop the quality intentionally a little bit. That was the most difficult thing thus far ... if we raised the bar that high they'd think a big studio was behind it."
P.T. has real atmosphere. There's a clear sense of anxiety when you're playing it. What will be in the corridor this time? Holy crap, is that the ghost I saw out the window? Is she going to kill me? Why did I look into the bathroom? What am I doing? The paranoia was real because the player is rooted in the game's world. The character's confusion is literally your confusion. The sound design was also top notch, something that's integral for great horror. Radio news reports breaking in at weird moments. A ghostly crying baby. Insects crawling across a dirty floor. The slamming of the lone bathroom door the first time I played was legitimately scary.
What's the value of P.T.?
P.T. is good horror. Silent Hills could've been good or great horror in some alternate future, but we'll never get there. P.T. is all that's left, a statement of intent by Kojima and Del Toro. One that stands on its own as something that must be experienced at least once. If you didn't download it, find a friend who did. If you've forgotten what horror can be in an industry that focuses on guns and gore over fear, P.T. is reminder that you don't need much to scare the player.
I think that's pretty valuable.
Just not $800 worth of value. Seriously, that's crazy talk.