Hitman to Launch with Half of Levels at Half-Price
Just when you thought that triple-A couldn’t quite figure out how to do early access properly, Square Enix seems to have hit on a model that is tolerable. Continuing their rather interesting news week last week, Square Enix unveiled the launch plans for next year’s Hitman. Half of the game’s content will be available at launch with the remaining half rolling out over the course of the next three months.
Hitman is scheduled to launch next March at two price points. There is a $35 Intro Pack which will only include the game contents that are scheduled to be available when the game launches on March 11th. Alternatively, you can pay $60 to get the “full experience” which includes all of the currently announced content. After the game launches, should you wish to upgrade from the Intro Pack to get the half of the game’s content you haven’t ordered yet, you have to buy the $35 Upgrade Pack.
At launch, Hitman will have three areas and six campaign missions. These areas are Paris, Sapienza (Italy) and Marrakesh (Morocco). Io Interactive is also promising that there will be 800 targets for the multiplayer contracts mode along with weekly events as part of a “live content” initiatives.
Following launch, Io will be releasing new content monthly for the next three months. These will include a map in Thailand in April, America in May and Japan in June. They also promise additional campaign missions, contract mode targets, and signature kills.
There is some good and bad to this scheme. The bad is that the game has already been delayed from December 2015 to March 2016. This Intro Pack approach to the game’s release screams of a compromise between Io and SquEnix when it comes to the launch. Square Enix’s fiscal year-end is on March 31, 2016, so if the game launches on time, that’s a big boost to revenue. If the game doesn’t launch in the fiscal year, all the money brought in for pre-orders isn’t recognized as revenue. It seems as though this scheme was a deal between the developers and the accountants.
On the plus side, at least we aren’t forced to pay $60 for half of a game. While it’s never a good idea to pre-order, you can always stick to the Intro Pack, even after launch, and wait to see if the later content is worth it before buying it. It’ll cost you $5 more to have that option if you buy the full experience but I think that having that out of not getting the full experience and save that money is worth what I’d call a convenience charge.
What I’d like to know is how is this game going to be reviewed? This is actually a serious question. Do reviewers withhold a score until the full game is released? Is the game evaluated on the three launch levels at a $35 price point or will the score be based on the full $60 price despite being half of the announced game? Does each month’s new content launch get a DLC review? Does the game get re-reviewed when everything is available that’s priced for the original $60? It might be nitpicky but Metacritic will care which means that Io Interactive is going to be compensated based on that. It matters to them. That and I’d like to know if this game will be worth it at $35, $60 or $65. Who am I kidding? I’ll wait until December and grab it for $20 in a Steam Sale.
And if you’re still confused, SquEnix had this handy infographic to explain:
Source: Square-Enix PR