Yesterday PSN gamers saw their pre-order for the new Hitman game canceled by Sony at the request of Square Enix. The ambiguity surrounding the move raised questions, but the company reassured their fans, saying the game’s release was still on schedule.
Today IO-Interactive announced the reason for the canceled pre-orders: The next Hitman experience won't be a full packaged title, but an episodic experience with monthly updates released regularly throughout the rest of the year.
The initial release of the game will include the Prologue Mission and a Paris location. Future installments released monthly will include new locations, missions, signature kills, and contract targets. So far we know Agent 47 will be visiting Italy in April, Morocco in May, and eventually Thailand, US, and Japan. Those not satisfied with just the monthly updates will have weekly live events to look forward to. During these events will be one-time-only contract targets and even more guns and disguises at hand to bring the target down. Additional content is planned and details will be announced between each update.
Regarding the decision to release episodes instead of the full game at once, Hannes Seifert, Head of Studio at IO Interactive said:
“Part of that decision is for that little bit of extra time to ensure every location we release is at the quality level fitting for a HITMAN game. But the main driving reason is that this will allow us to create a living game that will expand and evolve over time and establish a foundation for the future.”
At release, gamers will have the option of ordering the Intro Pack for $15 with each monthly release priced at $10 apiece. Alternatively, the Full Experience version will be available up front including all of the Intro Pack content and all of the yearly updates. Pre-orders are vailable now for the Full Experience, currently priced at $59.99. Anyone ordering the Intro Pack will have the option of upgrading to the Full experience by purchasing an “Upgrade version” for $50.
Six bonus contracts will be available to PlayStation users. Called The Sarajevo Six, the side-story will follow Agent 47 as he hunts down six former members of a paramilitary unit called CICADA. Those interested in playing the game early can sign up for the beta starting Feb 12th for PlayStation 4 and Feb 19th on the PC. A spot is guaranteed for anyone pre-ordering either the Full Experience or the new Intro Pack.
Looking to step into the shoes of the contract killer? A special Collector’s Edition will be available for purchase priced at $139.99. This will include the Full Experience version of the game for digital download. A special collector’s version of the box will house the 10” Agent 47 “Chessmaster” statue and a 60-page hardcover art book. A tie & clip set completes the package, ensuring you look your best while doing your worst.
Episodic gameplay isn’t anything new, but has been on the rise since the days of The Walking Dead. Over recent years, gamers have seen the list of episodic games growing with releases like Life is Strange, Tales from the Borderlands, and The Wolf Among Us. When releases are on schedule and the content reliably high-quality, episodic releases work to the publisher’s benefit as they keep the fans interested and involved well passed the initial game’s release.
What do you think about Io-Interactive’s move to go episodic with Hitman? What other episodic games have you played recently? Let us know in the comments.
Fans can join in in the series when it begins it's digital download (with Collector’s Edition) March 11th 2016; a physical disc version will be released near the end of 2016.