With a new episodic model, 'Hitman' game aims for everyone

March 9, 2016 by Derrik J. Lang
With a new episodic model, 'Hitman' game aims for everyone
This video game image released by Square Enix shows a scene from "Hitman." (Square Enix via AP)

The creators of "Hitman" are pulling the trigger on an unorthodox way of releasing their espionage saga that could reshape how the interactive industry approaches video game launches.

"Hitman" publisher Square Enix and developer IO Interactive are unloading the latest installment of their assassination simulator episodically instead of all at once. It's a bold departure from past Agent 47 undertakings and other triple-A titles.

Nowadays, most games are released in their entirety online or on a disc for about $60, and later supplemented with updates and other downloadable content after launch. However, IO Interactive is treating the latest "Hitman" more like a TV show than a game.

"When we're making games, why should we force the people who want to be with us on this journey to wait until the end?" said IO Interactive studio head Hannes Seifert in true Agent 47 fashion: sitting in a dark corner at a hotel bar during the recent D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas.

For the past 15 years, the "Hitman" series has depicted the clandestine, globe-trotting missions of assassin-for-hire Agent 47 in 7 games, a pair of films and a mobile title. The first episode of the latest game—simply titled "Hitman"—will be released Friday.

With a new episodic model, 'Hitman' game aims for everyone
This video game image released by Square Enix shows a scene from "Hitman." (Square Enix via AP)

The revelation last year that "Hitman" would be dispersed throughout 2016 in episodes set in such locales as Italy, Morocco, Thailand and Japan didn't initially hit the mark with many fans conditioned to play a "Hitman" game in full.

"It's a series that's been around for over 15 years, so players have huge expectations," said Seifert. "We have to manage that. Looking back at the last eight months, we could have done a better job of communication. I know many people were confused by what we're doing with 'Hitman,' and now we've found the right language to talk about it."

Seifert said the move to releasing "Hitman" in seven chapters means gamers won't be forced to pay $60 upfront for "Hitman." Instead, they can opt to pay $10 per episode. For those who want everything, they can buy all of "Hitman" ahead of time or wait until it will be released in full at the end of 2016 on a disc.

However, to entice players to sign up for the full experience now, the developers are deploying new content in the game throughout 2016, such as unique assassination targets that will appear for a limited time.

While it's a novel method of releasing a game, it's a business model that's not dissimilar to the way some mobile games operate or the season-pass structure of franchises like "Call of Duty" and "Fallout."

"It's a risk," said Seifert. "It's a risk worth taking because I think we're opening ourselves up to people who may not have heard of 'Hitman' or been intimidated by it in the past."

Explore further: Review: New 'Hitman' game a well-executed thriller

More information: www.hitman.com

Related Stories

Review: 'Hearthstone' card game is the real deal

April 24, 2014

Video game publishers don't take many risks with their most popular franchises. You know exactly what you are going to get from a new "Call of Duty" or "Madden NFL" game—it will probably be pretty good, but won't offer ...

Sony's 'Uncharted 4,' 'Last Guardian' capture E3 attention

June 16, 2015

Nathan Drake is back in action. Sony capped off its game-filled Electronic Entertainment Expo briefing Monday night with a bullet-riddled demonstration of "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End," the forthcoming action-adventure starring ...

Def Leppard debuts video through game

January 28, 2016

Heavy metal chart-toppers Def Leppard have released their latest video on Guitar Hero Live in what is believed to be the first premiere by an established band through a game.

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 09, 2016
So instead of paying $60 for the full game, you pay $70 and have to wait for them to publish the episodes one by one, and only that way do you actually get all the content with the "specials" included.

Plain bullshit.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.