P.T. Was More Than Just A Demo, But Now It's Gone

P.T. was more than just a demo. Can we be clear about that from the outset? It was more than a demo.

Right?

Here is a list of things that P.T. was: terrifying, innovative, heart-wrenching, sombre, brutal, clever, insightful, frustrating as fuck, gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, self-reflexive, self-sustaining.

Here’s a list of thing that P.T. wasn’t: a small sub-section of a grander video game. A demo in the traditional sense.

Calling P.T. a ‘demo’? It’s almost insulting, at the very least it’s a trivialisation of everything that was exciting and new about one of the most unique experiences of 2014. P.T. was one of my favourite games of 2014.

The most depressing part of Konami’s decision to remove P.T. from the PlayStation Store isn't the subsequent cancellation of Silent Hills – that game was nothing but a name and a few vague ideas at this point— it's the removal of P.T. itself. It suggests that this creative, innovative experience was nothing more than promotion for a video game that no longer exists. Therefore it is now useless. It is trash to be discarded.

This piece of art. This interesting ‘object’ that was once free to be played, discussed, debated – it will soon be completely gone. It will be lost. Because there’s no longer anything to sell. That is truly, properly depressing.

P.T. was free. It was free. Why can’t it just keep being free? Why can’t P.T. just sit there as a prestige piece – as a reminder that Konami are capable of creating interesting video game experiences? Why does it need a commercial reason to exist? It’s already been made, the money has already been spent. Why are people being denied of this experience?

Perhaps there is a good reason. Perhaps it’s some sort of licensing issue, perhaps it’s the monetary cost of actually being on the PlayStation Store, perhaps it’s something else entirely but, this is a bizarre tragedy. We’re losing one of the best games currently available on the PlayStation because it no longer serves a commercial purpose.

It’s a real peek behind the curtains. For all the talk of bringing unique experiences to gamers, for all the talk of games as an art form, at the publishing level it isn’t enough that a game simply doesn’t lose money – it has to actively serve a commercial purpose or it gets thrown in the bin. That makes me extremely sad.

A demo is a demo. A pre-selected level, a vertical slice of gameplay. P.T. was a game in and of itself. Something that could have only fit into specific, unique container. Because it was technically ‘promotional’ P.T. had the production values of a ‘AAA’ experience in something that was ‘short’ and free.

And conversely, because it was 'free', it had the freedom to be this weird, disconcerting thing. It had the freedom to be completely unique, to be this literal, structural re-enactment of the gameplay ‘loop’. To be dark, to be insane. To be completely unlike anything that had ever existed. The circumstances of its creation allowed for this one-of-a-kind experience and now that’s gone — completely evaporated — because it no longer has the ability to sell something.

That is complete bullshit. It subverts how subversive P.T. is, or more accurately was. It makes a mockery of it.

P.T. was more than just a demo, right? Once upon a time I could have said those words with complete confidence. Now it’s overwhelmingly clear.

In the end P.T. was just a demo. A demo for a commercial product. Nothing more. And now it’s gone.


Comments

    "We’re losing one of the best games currently available on the PlayStation because it no longer serves a commercial purpose."

    It's a reminder that at the top-end of game development, it's entirely a commercial endeavour. Games in production will get cancelled at 85% completion if it's looking like the money being put into marketing and distribution won't be made back in sales.

    It sucks that we can't play it anymore, and it sucks even more that plenty of other people will never get to experience it, but it shouldn't be surprising that Konami have pulled something that may consistently be costing them money through licensing when there will never be a return on the investment through sales or even brand awareness.

    If you haven't downloaded P.T. yet, do it now before it disappears in the next few days, It's creepy as fuck.

    I don't recall seeing that person up there. Might have to play it again, if I can summon the courage.

    Also, I love everything that Guillermo Del Toro does, but for some reason the last two video game projects he's been associated with (inSane and now Silent Hills) have ended up getting cancelled. Starting to think he's bad luck. Won't get excited for the next video game project he's associated with until the full game actually materializes.

      I love that everyone's playthrough will basically be different. I watched someone play through it and found it hilarious when he died. When I finally played it, I had the knowledge of what to do and when so I never died :D Kind of did that on purpose :P It was still creepy as anything though

    On the topic of famous directors and games, didn't Spielberg help with that Block game on the Wii? Forget what it was called and never played it but my impression was that you knocked down elaborate brick structures.

      Boom Blox!

        Unless he's thinking of his non-union Mexican equivalent.

        That's it!
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boom_Blox

        Big WTF - it was released for the NGage too.

          Now that (the NGage bit) I didn't know. Hell I didn't even have any idea the thing was still around by then.

            Exactly. I knew a guy that had one but it was years before then. I don't understand the fact at all.

              I have a friend with one too, I'm not sure if I ever actually got around to telling her this but in the event she wants to get rid of it I want first dibs :P

        That was the first Wii game I ever played. Loved it.

      Boom Blox. Really good fun. Not sure what his actual involvement would've been other than "Given that I know when is a movie is fun, I'm kinda qualified to say that this game has reached the point where it is fun, too"

    I think it's a shame that it is being pulled, but totally justified at the same time, seeing as how Silent Hills is more than likely cancelled.
    You can say whatever you like about P.T, but at the end of the day, it was a product designed to get people excited for Silent Hills, therefore, a demo.
    Yes, it is a great standalone piece, and yes it is very high quality, but a demo (of sorts) none the less.

    I kind of expect that it is being pulled so that Konami can take out that ending cutscene so that there is no connection to Silent Hills, Norman Reedus, or Guillermo Del Toro, and then be re-uploaded, but you should still download it now while you have the chance, in case this is the last you see of it.

    Still super bummed about Silent Hills :(
    I was so pumped for that game, and it was gonna be my first Silent Hill game! :'O

      If that was the case, they could patch it out

    Agreed with @evilmonkey , every time I hear the word 'Del Toro' I think oh another round of hype, speculation, then silence, then a brief cancellation statement after a year or two. Getting a bit tired of his self promotion.

      Question is: can Konami go the full Del Toro and wind up in liquidation by 2016?

    Well this is the current front runner for my biggest disappointment in gaming for 2015.

    Nice article, Mark.

    Very disappointing indeed. Glad I experienced it before they removed it.

    That's a shame. Even after playing the last of us and bloodborne on my PS4 I'd still rate PT as the best thing I've played on the console so far. With silent hills cancelled they should have just built on PT and made it a fully fleshed out 10-14 hour experience.

    Last edited 27/04/15 12:21 pm

    Games are art... games are commercial products. Commerce wins over art, today.

    This is not a thing to be celebrated.

    Man... I'm so angry and disappointed that even caps lock would be erroneous.

    This is the scariest part of the age of digital distribution for me. The very existence of something can be reversed at the drop of a hat.

      That's a good point. These games then become fabled myths that are almost impossible for future generations to be able to enjoy; there's no real way of coming across a prized copy in a garage sale, or pirating one with a ROM (though god knows in 20 years). There's no romance :/

        Now I am curious about the drive formatting of PS4s and the portability of its stored data. I haven't ROM'd in a long time, but last I checked they were still having trouble with the last-gen consoles. You'd have to think we'd be able to do this at some point.

      stuff like this is why I mostly stick to PC gaming - even when companies try to completely kill off a product, so long as at least one disc image makes it into the wild, there will almost always be a group of enthusiasts keeping it available or functional via emulation and slightly shady websites.

        The same goes for the consoles too, really. You just need to look at the various Virtual Boy-related stories that have popped up here over the years and how they've unearthed all manner of prototypes and unreleased/unfinished games, bringing them back from the dead. Although with how complex and better-encrypted/generally locked-off the latest batch of platforms are, it wouldn't be hard to imagine them remaining unexplored into the future.

          yeah that's sort of what I was getting at - classic consoles have great longevity through emulation since the software is relatively self-contained, but as far as I know that all stopped at the Xbox and PS3 respectively due to their architecture. Between that and the increasing dependence on short-lived online systems, I suspect there will be a gap period in which some titles might disappear before they can be properly archived and emulated.

        This is why 'always online' functionality is so disturbing. Publishers want it not JUST because it hampers piracy (although I wouldn't be surprised if that's their primary motivator), but also because it works with social pressure to generate word-of-mouth sales that extend their tail. But the legacy is publishers deciding, eventually, that you don't get to play an old game anymore. Which is unconscionable.

    Late to the party here, but does anyone have a link to P.T. on the EU store? Or is it already gone? Even if you don't have a PS4, you could add it to your purchases and download when you get one, yeah?

      Tried searching for P.T. on the EU store and didn't come up with anything, but if you have a US account ...

      https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-us/games/pt/cid=UP4511-CUSA01127_00-PPPPPPPPTTTTTTTT

        https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-au/games/pt-demo/cid=EP4511-CUSA01114_00-PPPPPPPPTTTTTTTT

        This was mentioned in TAY, I'm not a PS guy so I dunno how it works and whether that counts as EU too or not. Apparently it's under Games -> Demos when searching on the store, rather than Games -> P.

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