Ever since it was announced that the new Hitman game will be going with an episodic release schedule, many fans have been skeptical, if not openly critical. But regardless, Hans Seifert, studio head at Hitman developer IO Interactive, things it is the right choice.
Speaking with Ars Technica, Seifert explained, “Six years passed between Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution, and we thought that was too long a period for us to react to any feedback that we had off of the back of Blood Money. After all, every game is a child of its time. Tweaking the game after it has been released has become more and more important. When you look at the current games that are out there some have a very long life. A lot of these haven’t relied on adding content over time, but the game itself has been tweaked after release. Then there are episodic games which do add new content, but the game itself hasn’t necessarily been changed or improved.” With the new Hitman, he hopes to be able to accomplish both.
“Whenever we ship a game we think it’s the best possible Hitman game we could have done. Of course, that’s the same this time: we think it’s the best possible Hitman game we can right now. But, you know what? That’s not always true. There are sometimes things that you only realize could be better when you observe people playing, and we can make those improvements now because of this episodic structure.”
But the reasoning extends to even more than that. Its also IO’s way of addressing what’s becoming an issue developers have to face an increasing amount. With the advent of discounted early access and free-to-play, gamers are finding places to get a lot more of bang for their buck than $60 triple-A games that may or may not be good.
“[That’s] something I’ve personally wanted to solve for a very long time: how we make a triple-A accessible to people that cannot spend $60 on day one… as well as for those people that don’t want to spend $60 on day one,” Seifert said. “Still, the promise remains that if you spend $60 you will get absolutely everything. We will not have micro-transactions and we will not have additional DLC. The whole of season one is a $60 offering, but there are different ways to buy that.”
As for those that do just want the single $60 game, “My answer to that is that we are shipping the game at the end of the season. So, if you’re a traditional player, you can buy it on a disc at the end of 2016, if that’s what you want. No one is stopping you doing that, but why should the people that want to come on the journey with us have to wait for all that time to pass?”
In short, “Releasing [the game] in this way opens us up to so many more opportunities then we’ve had in the past. Those opportunities apply to the players and us as developers.”
Hitman will be the first Triple-A episodic game. But Seifert thinks it also won’t be the last.
“I sincerely think that it would be good for many games to do something similar… You need to have a game that makes sense within this kind of approach. If you’ve got something that is extremely story driven and very linear then this isn’t a model that you would consider, maybe. If you have something more interesting in terms of being able to be played as a toy, and is very replayable and perhaps mission based, then it could work and I think there are quite a few games out there that I could see fitting it really well.”
The Intro Pack for Hitman is set to release March 11th on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, for $15. It will include the prologue and Paris, the first location of the game. From there, five more locations, Italy, Morocco, Thailand, the US, and Japan, will be released throughout the year, each for $10.
What do you think of Hitman’s episodic release? Let us know in the comments.