Silent Hill: Ascension, an interactive streaming series that premiered on Halloween, is causing a stir among Silent Hill fans after it was hit by 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 includes the Season Pass, access to all puzzles in the game, and some in-game cosmetics such as exclusive emotes. You can check it out in the image below.
Silent Hill fans took to X/Twitter and Reddit to express their frustration with Ascension, complaining that there is something of a pay-to-win problem here. The framework of Ascension is to vote as a group in real time on what happens next. However, as Polygon reports, viewers spend so-called Influence Points (or IP) to influence decisions. You can pay real money to receive the digital currency, and the more IP you have, the more influence you have in the decisions.
Genvid CEO Jacob Navok previously told Polygon not automatically means you can easily spend more than your Silent Hill counterparts to influence the decisions, but many have 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 web series is to vote on what happens… but the vote is through this digital currency.”
“So… Why vote at all when the richest can decide?” asked u/gladias9 on Reddit.
I think the worst thing about Silent Hill Ascension is the currency.
The whole point of this web series is to vote on what happens… but the vote is done through this digital currency.
YOU CAN PAY TO WIN THIS WEB SERIES.
— SmoughTown, Mensis Scholar (@SmoughTown) November 1, 2023
The suffering of Silent Hill fans continues:
SILENT HILL: Ascensionhttps://t.co/EgyyxeRnw6
An interactive film with microtransactions and a season pass. 🥴
As a Silent Hill fan, I have almost no hope for an SH2 remake. Konami doesn’t care… pic.twitter.com/mSI89pp1AR
– Wobbling Pixels (@WobblingP) November 1, 2023
What a complete mess of an app SILENT HILL: Ascension is.
I thought EA was the master of microtransactions.
It seems that the wealthiest users can determine the results themselves, while poor people like me can do nothing.
…what a load of bum butter.
— Mark Cleghorn (@Mark_Cleg) November 1, 2023
Silent Hill: If you just want to beg for money by introducing microtransactions to Ascension, just port the actual games.
— Kurisomi (@Kurisomi19) November 1, 2023
Others have pointed out that you can’t access some puzzles early if you don’t 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 terrible too. Fast events were delayed. The story was bad. The animation looked ugly. The more money you have, the more chance you have of winning with your vote. I am so disappointed.”
While microtranstions have been the biggest point of contention, Silent Hill fans have also expressed concern about the other new games in development.
“Doesn’t fill me with confidence for the SH2 remake, I’m not going to lie,” wrote Redditor u/fiittzzyy, although one reply correctly points out that Silent Hill 2 Remake is being made by a completely different developer. Other Redditors are also still hopeful about the other Silent Hill projects.
Another Reddit user, u/Altruistic-Ease-6684, not only expressed frustration with the microtransactions, but rather argued that they were the “worst use of time, energy, and effort” they had ever seen: “The time and effort it took to make this could easily have translated into a 6-8 hour gaming experience rather than a 25 hour viewing experience,” they added.
Genvid CEO Jacob Navok responded to IGN with a lengthy statement in which, among other things, he claimed that “the idea that users can ‘win’ by paying is generally false,” while attempting to clarify the studio’s point of view to explain the game mechanics.
All decisions and all content are free. There is no video content behind a paywall. Every day, objectives and certain puzzles are unlocked for free. These puzzles are stackable; Day 1 had a level. Day 2 will have two levels and Day 10 will have 10 levels. Video on demand content (which also awards points) is free, so many videos will be available for free starting on day 10. 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 from day one. For example, by the time we reach day 100, there will be 300 videos available, all granting free IP.
The idea that users can “win” by paying is generally false. As you can see, the decisions are already in the millions. We are creating a community-based product with the goal of letting millions of people participate easily and free of charge. The Influence Point packages are intentionally kept small to avoid overwhelming individual users with their decisions. Instead, IP packs focus on cosmetic unlocks and collections that are completely voluntary and have nothing to do with narrative control.
As a user, you can log in every day, watch every scene, participate in every decision, unlock every moment and solve multiple puzzles for free. This allows a large audience to participate without paying anything. This is a far better solution than a fixed-price product, which would have put all content behind a paywall and prevented us from reaching the audience of millions we wanted to reach. That’s the contradiction to fan reaction – IP packs are really only good if they help you unlock rewards if you care about rewards for your avatar. They are not designed to change decisions as an individual, and as the audience increases and the number of decisions increases from millions to tens of millions to hundreds of millions, this will continue to be the case.
The Founder’s Pack contains certain puzzles that are unique to the Founder’s Pack and Season Pass. These puzzles are bonuses. You are not obligated to take part in the show. And the contents of the Founder’s Pack are again cosmetic. We continue to make improvements to the interface and take user feedback into account.
Silent Hill: Ascension was announced in October 2022 and is one of the more unconventional installments in the series. Before last night’s premiere, Genvid had revealed few details about the project.
And as mentioned, Silent Hill fans can hope for other upcoming projects if they’re dissatisfied with Ascension. Three other games are currently in development – Silent Hill: Townfall from No Code Studios and Silent Hill f from Neobards Entertainment. In particular, the Blair and The Medium development team Blooper is working on a remake of Silent Hill 2.
Taylor is a reporter at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.