It was a week before his son’s birthday, and Joshua Lucke was on a mission. His son had come across an amaetur remake of P.T., the beloved “playable teaser” for a Silent Hill game Metal Gear designer Hideo Kojima planned to make with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro before it was abruptly cancelled, on the Google Play store. Now, he wanted to surprise him with the real thing, but Lucke ran into a familiar problem: There was no easy way to play P.T.
“The hunt for P.T. has become an obsession,” he wrote on Reddit, the first of a series of vain attempts to find some way to play P.T. “Needless to say..I've had no luck. Can anyone please give me some direction on how and where I can get this game. I'd greatly appreciate it.”
It’s been a little more than five years since P.T. dropped like a shockwave. Its complicated legacy masks what a revelation P.T. was when it was announced at Gamescom 2014 as a horror game from a new developer, 7780s Studio, with “the world’s first interactive teaser.” The first-person horror experiment, set in a small house that gets increasingly warped as you walk through the same set of halls over and over again, was not only a brilliant way to tease Kojima’s Silent Hills project, but a genuinely inspired slice of horror—cryptic, scary, baffling. Players spent months trying to fully unravel it.
When Kojima and Konami hit rocky waters, a disturbance that would eventually lead to the designer leaving the company he’d been associated with his entire career, it wasn’t entirely shocking Silent Hills was cancelled. What was shocking was how quickly Konami tried to pretend P.T. never happened, stripping the Kojima Productions logo from the Silent Hills website, and later announcing P.T. itself would, for no discernible reason, disappear forever.
Despite public protests—thus, the “fuck Konami” moniker that’s haunted the company ever since—Konami made good on its threat, and P.T. was removed from the PlayStation Store on April 25, 2015. If you hadn’t downloaded P.T. before that, you could never download it, which is what prompts folks like Lucke to start shouting into the void for a chance to play.
(Worse still, even if you once downloaded P.T., if you've erased it from your hard drive or bought a new PS4, it doesn't matter, it's still gone. You cannot re-download it without some trickery.)
In P.T.’s official absence, lots of fans have tried to “remake” P.T. to varied success. There are several crappy versions of P.T. readily available right now to download on Google Play, for example, but they don’t hold a candle to the real thing. The best attempt came from 17-year-old Simon “Qimsar” Crowell, whose Unreal Engine 4-based remake was good enough for Konami to briefly admit P.T. was once a thing and issue a cease-and-desist to have it taken down.
Crowell’s version looked good as hell, though.
You can’t download that version (easily) anymore, and you certainly can't download the official version. In 2019, your options for playing P.T., especially if you want an authentic experience, are incredibly limited.
This is what lead someone like Lucke on a desperate journey, randomly shouting into subreddits and responding to anyone who would give him a moment, hoping for a solution.
Lucke told me he looked into buying a PlayStation 4 with P.T. pre-loaded on it, but those all seem to be going for around $400 on eBay right now, $100 more than a brand-new PS4.
“I'm just worried about scammers,” he said. “I guess I wish I could turn it on and press play before I purchase it.”
It’s technically possible to hack a PS4 and load P.T. onto it, but that’s no easy task. PS4 emulation is years away, if we're lucky.
For a while, it was possible to use the PS4’s “Share Play” feature, which allows users to stream a game and hand over control to another user. Konami, intent on destroying any and all fan goodwill, disabled this feature when P.T. was removed from the PlayStation Store.
Your last option is to hope someone will share their digital library of games with you, but this is pretty tricky. On PS4, it’s possible to share games if someone logs into their account on your machine and sets it as the “primary” machine. Then, you’re allowed to be on your own PSN account but access the wider library of games. (The original account can still access those games, too, but since they’re no longer the “primary,” they open themselves to getting kicked off if you try to play the same game at the same time.) Who’d do this with a stranger?
Lucke connected with someone online who was hoping to make this happen, and who promised to pass on the benefits if it worked out. So far, Lucke has not heard from them.
The long and short of it is that Konami’s made it a pain in the ass to play P.T. without jumping through a lot of frustrating hoops. For now, Lucke is hoping to save up money to just straight up buy a PS4 with P.T. pre-loaded on it from eBay. But like he said, he’s still worried about it.
“All we do now is watch Death Stranding YouTube theories,” he told me, “and hope Konami let's Microsoft buy P.T.”
Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you know what happened to P.T., drop an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. He's also available privately on Signal.