Silent Hill: Ascension, an interactive streaming series that premiered on Halloween, has Silent Hill fans up in arms after being hit with unexpected microtransactions.
While the series, a group-based choose-your-own-adventure, is “free” to experience, it does include microtransactions, including the $20 Founder’s Pack. This features the Season Pass, access to all the in-game puzzles, and some in-game cosmetics, such as exclusive emotes. You can give it a look in the image below.
Silent Hill fans took to X/Twitter and Reddit to express their frustrations with Ascension, complaining that there’s something of a pay-to-win issue here. The framework of Ascension is voting, as a group in real time, to determine what happens next. As Polygon reports, though, viewers spend what are called Influence Points (or IP) to sway the decisions. You can pay real money to obtain the digital currency, and the more IP you have, the more sway you have in the decisions.
Genvid CEO Jacob Navok previously told Polygon that that doesn’t automatically mean you can just outspend your fellow Silent Hill fans in order to sway the decisions, but many are finding a different experience.
“I think the worst thing about Silent Hill Ascension is the currency,” @SmoughTown wrote on X/Twitter. “The WHOLE POINT of this webseries is to vote on what happens…but voting is done by this digital currency.”
“So.. Why Vote at all if the Wealthiest get to Decide?,” asked u/gladias9 on Reddit.
I think the worst thing about Silent Hill Ascension is the currency.
The WHOLE POINT of this webseries is to vote on what happens…but voting is done by this digital currency.
YOU CAN PAY TO WIN ON THIS WEBSERIES.
Absolute disgrace – #SILENTHILLAscension pic.twitter.com/lXW2SVV3PQ
— SmoughTown, Mensis Scholar (@SmoughTown) November 1, 2023
The suffering for Silent Hill fans continues:
SILENT HILL: Ascensionhttps://t.co/EgyyxeRnw6
An interactive movie with microtransactions and season pass. 🥴
As a Silent Hill fan I have almost zero hope for SH2 remake. Konami doesn’t care … pic.twitter.com/mSI89pp1AR
— Wobbling Pixels (@WobblingP) November 1, 2023
What an absolute mess of an app SILENT HILL: Ascension is.
I thought EA was the master of microtransactions.
It appears the wealthiest of users gets to choose the outcomes whilst poor people like me can do nothing.
…what a crock of bum butter.
— Mark Cleghorn (@Mark_Cleg) November 1, 2023
Silent Hill if you’re just going to beg for money by putting microtransactions in Ascension just port the actual games.
— Kurisomi (@Kurisomi19) November 1, 2023
Others have pointed out that you cannot access some puzzles early if you do not have the Season Pass. Redditor u/Donzo_Army posted a screenshot of the situation in question, lamenting “Everything is money. Always money.”
“After waiting so long we get this,” they added. “And the episode was horrible too. Quick time events were laggy. Story was bad. Animation looked ugly. The more money you have the more chance you have to get your vote to win. So dissapointed.”
While microtranstions have been the biggest point of contention, fans of Silent Hill have also expressed their apprehensions about the other new games in development.
“Doesn’t fill me with confidence for the SH2 remake, I won’t lie,” Redditor u/fiittzzyy wrote, although a reply correctly points out that Silent Hill 2 Remake is being made by an entirely different developer. Other Redditors are also still hopeful about the other Silent Hill projects.
Another Redditor, u/Altruistic-Ease-6684, expressed frustration not just over the microtransactions, but rather, that they argue it was the “worst use of time energy and effort” they have ever seen: “The time and effort of this could have very easily went to a 6-8 hour game experience instead of a 25 hour viewing experience,” they added.
Genvid CEO Jacob Navok responded to IGN with a lengthy statement claiming among other things that “the notion that users can ‘win’ by paying is generally false” while attempting to explain the studio’s view of the game’s mechanics.
All decisions and all content are free. There is no video content behind a paywall. Every day, goals and certain puzzles unlock for free. These puzzles stack; day 1 had one level. Day 2 has two levels, and day 10 will have 10 levels. Video on-demand content (which also grant points) is free, and so by day 10, there will be many videos available for free. This is consistent with what we have said. The economy will grow as the product grows, and people are used to products where everything is available on day one. By the time we reach day 100 there will be 300 videos available all of which grant free IP, as an example.
The notion that users can “win” by paying is generally false. As you can see, decisions are already in the millions. We are creating a community-based product with the growth of having millions of people participate easily and free. The Influence Point packs are intentionally small to prevent any individual user from overwhelming decisions. Instead, IP packs are focused on cosmetic unlocks and collections that are completely voluntary and unrelated to the narrative control.
As a user you are able to login each day, watch every scene, participate in every decision, unlock every moment, and solve multiple puzzles for free. This lets large audiences be able to participate while paying nothing. This is a far better solution than a fixed price product which would have put all the content behind a paywall and prevented us from reaching the million-sized audiences we wanted to reach. This is the inconsistency with the fan reactions- IP packs are really only good for helping you unlock rewards if you care about rewards for your avatar. They aren’t good for changing decisions as an individual, and as audience size grows and decision sizes grow from millions to tens of millions to hundreds of millions, this will only continue to be the case.
The Founders Pack includes certain puzzles that are locked to the Founder’s Pack and Season Pass. These puzzles are bonuses. They are not required to participate in the show. And the Founders Pack content is again cosmetic. We continue to make improvements on the interface and take user’s feedback into consideration.
Silent Hill: Ascension was announced in October 2022 and is one of the more unconventional installments in the series. Prior to its premiere last night, Genvid had offered few details about the project.
And, as noted, Silent Hill fans have other upcoming projects to have hope for if they’re unhappy with Ascension. Three other games are currently in development — Silent Hill: Townfall from No Code Studios, and Silent Hill f from Neobards Entertainment. Most notably, Blair and The Medium developer Blooper Team is working on a remake of Silent Hill 2.
Taylor is a Reporter at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.
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Author: Taylor Lyles