These days, it is almost impossible to be surprised in the gaming press. Not only has the internet completely changed the way we receive news, but playing more of a bigger part is the attitude of publishers. Sequels and franchises are becoming the cornerstone of the industry. Capitalising on this change in consumer patterns, publishers are often quick to shout about their new instalment and new gimmick attached to it. Once this is established, they want to hype it up. If a customer has purchased a previous title of a game series, publishers want to grab their attention to quickly let them know why they should be interested in the next one. This attitude ensures that well before a game’s release, sometimes before any playable content has been made available, most of the important gameplay details are widely known.
For their latest big reveal, Konami decided to go in a different direction. Announced under the pseudonym P.T (short for Playable Trailer), during Sony’s presentation at Gamescon 2014, with an interactive demo released on the PSN simultaneously. Upon the completion of a variety of increasingly convoluted and strange puzzles, players were presented with the twist that this was in fact an announcement for the latest in the Silent Hill franchise, entitled Silent Hills.
Whilst many are indeed excited at the very notion of a new Silent Hill title in the works, perhaps the most tantalising reveal to fans though was the announcement that the game would be developed by Kojima Production. A subsidiary of Konami, Kojima Productions is headed by superstar game designer Hideo Kojima, chief designer of the Metal Gear franchise. Working in collaboration with him will be famed film director Guillermo del Toro. In bringing in industry A-listers, Konami has clearly created intrigue, although details around their exact involvement have yet to be released. One hopes that Kojima utilises his exemplary skills as a game designer, but stays well away from the writing. The isolated feeling Silent Hill is famous for may be lost when interrupted by twenty minute cut scenes the likes of which blight the Metal Gear franchise. Subtlety, also, is a strong point of Silent Hill, relying on symbolism and interpretation rarely seen in a mainstream video game. This is something that in the past Kojima’s work has demonstrated he is clearly not a fan of.
Konami then, have played a fantastic marketing game. Leaking Silent Hills like this they did indeed shout out to the public that their new title is here and that they should be interested in it. However, it was what they didn’t tell them that generated the most interest. With the demo’s almost impossible final puzzles spurring torrents of internet discussion by players desperate to crack the final problems, the final reveal upon completion became seen as a reward for dedication. Brilliantly, in keeping it under wraps so tightly prior to this in order to ensure a shock reveal, they have generated a buzz unlike any a flashy stage can provide.