IO Interactive considers Hitman’s episodic roll out in 2016 a success. Both critically and commercially, the game performed well. Additionally, fans and members of the development team enjoyed Hitman’s release taking a piecemeal approach. That Hitman 2 will abide by a more traditional release model, where the full game launches all at once, is surprising. However, IO interactive apparently made the decision long before the sequel’s announcement. The team’s reasoning? They want to serve fans, not follow a trend.
During PAX West 2018, IO Interactive’s Sven Liebold spoke to GamesIndustry.biz about the shift from Hitman to Hitman 2. In the interview, Liebold said IO had its pick of publishers before the now independent studio ultimately chose Warner Bros. Even prior to this decision, the studio knew that abandoning the episodic release model was the best course of action. Liebold revealed the following:
We wanted to break up the sequel chain a little, and it’s also important for us to serve our players instead of following this trendy bubble of games-as-a-service. The community means a lot to us, and I think it’s a very big step for the studio as well, because this essentially means that maybe there’s a Hitman 3, and a Hitman 4 as well. And this will all appear on the same timeline. Meaning that in a couple of years you may be able to play a game that goes to over 20 locations. And that’s super exciting for us.
Expanding the franchise doesn’t solely involve producing sequels. IO aims to create a world for Hitman, one where each entry from the 2016 release and beyond all talk to one another. The first step is already in motion, as 2016’s missions are being updated for Hitman 2. For players that own Hitman, its remastered levels will be available free of charge as DLC when the sequel launches.
In touching on what worked for Hitman’s episodic roll out, Liebold said Hitman 2 strikes a balance between pleasing those who enjoy episodic content and those that want everything available at once.
A lot of people were very happy with the episodic format, and it worked for us in the regard that when you play in one location for around one month, and then the next one drops, we sort of re-educated the player that we are all about replayability. And we want to make the game fun, so it’s not a chore. We want you to feel like ‘Yeah, I want to play this game.’ So it’s not about rushing through a level. You can go in and do different things, try different things, and people stared to realize, ‘Huh, this is what Hitman’s all about.’
But then we had people who were not so happy with that format. So for Hitman 2 we wanted to bring everyone together so everyone’s happy.