Five years ago, in the crisp early morning of August 12, 2014, a mysterious demo hit the PlayStation 4 store. This demo, whilst previously announced at that year’s GamesCom, still surprised gamers: No-one knew anything about the game, aside from the fact it was a horror title, and no-one recognised the studio, either – Who was this ‘7780s Studio’, and what had publisher Konami so intrigued by them?
Those who booted up the demo uncovered a true mystery: Taking the role of a mysterious man, you wake up in an empty room, beyond which lays a corridor. The corridor – which connects to the entrance hall of a fairly typical, middle-class New England home – is seemingly benign at first. You’re guided through it to the end of the hallway, all the while a news report of a recent murder plays on the radio.
But the door at the end of the corridor somehow loops you back to the start of it, and, as you keep going, strange noises and flashes of movement key you in to the fact that you’re not alone.
Whilst most players ended up wandering the loop and eventually encountering the terrifying ghost of Lisa, one of the murder victims reported on the radio, some players picked up on subtle changes in the loops that affected other loops. Finding crumpled pieces of paper, speaking into a microphone at a certain point – Soon, the internet became ablaze with P.T. fever as people scrambled to follow these bread crumbs to their apparent, proper end.
At that end, what the community discovered was the true reveal: That P.T. stood for Public Test, and that the demo was an announcement for a new Silent Hills game being worked on by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro.
The general gaming community was hyped for a new entry in the classic horror franchise, whose games are often considered to be some of the industry’s finest.
…And then, as soon as it had come, it was gone.
What fans didn’t know at the time was that the relationship between Konami and ‘7780s Studio’ – the pseudonym for Kojima Productions during the project – were beginning to sour. This is primarily due to Kojima himself.
Not in that he instigated anything, but in that he became seen as a threat.
Before P.T., Konami had restructured its company to focus on mobile gaming and pachinko, a type of Japanese gambling, with console games as a secondary focus. They had taken this move because they felt that they were falling behind in the industry and that turning to Mobile would, somehow, ‘catch them up’.
Kojima was popular, intelligent, and seen as a legend by peers and fans alike. He had little interest in potential mobile and pachinko projects, and was attached to the franchises he had spent the past 30 years refining. Franchises that Konami wanted to use… So they took it upon themselves to do the completely bizarre move of forcing Kojima out of their company.
They began by wiping Kojima’s name from his own creations – Recent Metal Gear Solid titles and collections suddenly saw their covered changed, omitting Kojima and his production studio. Then came the news that Kojima Productions staff began to have their corporate internet access cut; that managers were being intentionally cruel to them; that they were suddenly, and with dubious legality, being assigned to roles as a janitor and the like inside their offices.
Not long after, Kojima and Konami understandably parted ways: His project, P.T., cancelled and scrubbed from the internet. No-one could download the demo any longer, nor could re-download it if they had previously had it; only Playstation 4’s with the demo installed could play it… Leading to eBay being flooded with overpriced consoles hoping to prey upon those who missed out or wanted to preserve a part of gaming history.
Konami, after preventing Kojima to attend the Game Awards in Los Angeles for his own game, went on to fulfil their wish of focusing primarily on mobile and pachinko, after effectively – and quite needlessly – scorching the earth of any good will the company may have had amongst gamers. Kojima is once again working with Del Toro on a new project, Death Stranding, that is getting a lot of hype.
…Although it’s gone, P.T.’s influence can still be seen in the industry: Directly inspiring Resident Evil 7, it could be argued that it was responsible for a revival of AAA Publisher interest in the survival horror genre. Konami can destroy its own game, but it can’t destroy the impact it left on us.
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