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Konami's new Silent Hill games are all from external studios

Konami is reviving the Silent Hill series—except Konami won't be developing any new games itself.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

October 20, 2022

5 Min Read
James Sunderland of Silent Hill 2 looks into a mirror.

During a (somewhat chaotic) hour-long presentation yesterday, Konami finally revealed to the world its plans for a revival of the Silent Hill franchise. The series has lain dormant for the last decade, and the Japanese publisher seems finally ready to cash in on the cult franchise.

The catch? It's not developing any new games internally. All of the new titles are being farmed out to developers in Poland, the United States, and Scotland, with the next major installment coming from a separate Japanese developer.

(Why was the presentation chaotic, you ask? Well it kicked off with Konami mistakenly uploading the whole thing on YouTube before the livestream was completed, mis-spelled the names of one presenter, and haphardly switched between subtitles and audio dubs at the drop of a hat, just to name a few highlights).

All games unveiled during the presentation will be made by external developers, including Bloober Team, No Code Studios (in partnership with Annapurna Interactive), GenVid Technologies, and NeoBards Entertainment. The four studios are working on these respective games: a remake of Silent Hill 2, a game called Silent Hill: Townfall, an interactive experience called Silent Hill: Ascension, and Silent Hil: f, a brand-new game set in 1960s Japan.

Notably, the remake of Silent Hill 2 will be a console-exclusive release on the PlayStation 5.

Konami also announced a new movie directed by Christopher Gans, the French director behind the first Silent Hill film in 2006. The new movie will be called Return to Silent Hill. During the broadcast, Konami noted that production of the film was a key motivator for reviving the franchise as a video game series.

Silent Hill is going global

Ever since Konami disbanded Team Silent (the original internal team behind the first four Silent Hill games), the company has opted to work with external developers on new titles. The last of these was Silent Hill Downpour, released in 2012.

For a brief moment, it looked like Konami was willing to bring the series back in-house with the help of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima. He and film director Guillemot Del Toro were working on a Silent Hill game called Silent Hills that was unfortunately cancelled after Kojima and Konami split ways in 2015. The only artifact of that project is the critically acclaimed game teaser P.T.

The decade-long lack of releases in the series has left plenty of pent-up customer demand that other game studios have tried to take advantage of. Konami's return to the franchise makes plenty of sense, because there's plenty of revenue to be mined from a successful revival of the once-dominant horror brand.

It is interesting to see the publisher return to the strategy of having external development studios create new Silent Hill games, despite the lackluster critical and commercial results of its efforts in 2007 to 2012.

But so much has changed in the last decade. First and foremost, there's been enough time that young fans of the original games are now old enough to be experienced developers themselves. Second, said developers are now able to market themselves as veteran horror developers. Developers like Climax Studios and Vatra Games could not make the same claims in advance of their Silent Hill releases.

Third, the economic shifts in the game industry have meant that Konami can pursue several different types of Silent Hill games at once without risking too much cannibalization. Each of the four games fulfills a different role in the marketplace, with smaller titles like Townfall and Ascension serving partly as a marketing bridge between the remake of Silent Hill 2 and the all-new Silent Hill f.

In the late '00s, Konami's only hope at a similar effort would have been releasing games on the PlayStation Portable or Nintendo DS.

Building ties to Hollywood

Konami has also neatly positioned itself to cash in on the entertainment industry's renewed interest in video game adaptations. Christopher Gans' original 2006 film gives the company a unique jumping-off point to attract interest in a new adaptation.

Not only was that movie a commercial success (It grossed $100.6 million worldwide on an estimated $50 million budget), it was noted at the time for being an unusually strong adaptation, in part because Gans himself was an authentic fan of the series.

Gans' return to the franchise isn't Konami's only play into Hollywood though. GenVid's Silent Hill: Ascension is being produced in partnership with Bad Robot Games, a subsidiary of producer and director J.J. Abrams' film and TV production company Bad Robot. Though Bad Robot and GenVid appear to be sticking purely in the interactive realm at the moment, any success with that project might set up Bad Robot as a partner for other live-action adaptations.

Abrams himself made an...unconventional appearance during Konami's presentation. The company was excited to share a message from Abrams that turned out to be the presentation of a quote likely written by a third party.

"Genvid's experience presents a wild, epic, and innovative new way to immerse yourself in the horrors of Silent Hill," said Abrams. Abrams did not appear on vide or even read the quote. (Again, this presentation was utter chaos to watch.)

Oddness in the presentation aside, this all seems to be a very savvy business play from Konami. Investing time and internal resources into development on a single long-awaited entry in the series came with big risks.

By diversifying the number and type of Silent Hill games hitting the market, the company can reliably manage expectations, gather data on what players want out of new Silent Hill games, and offload risk onto its development partners.

Having a Hollywood revival (in a moment where the horror genre is one of the few non-superhero money-makers for theatrically released films) is just icing on the cake.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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