Hitman to Launch as an Episodic Game
Back in October 2015, Square Enix announced that the upcoming Hitman game would release with three of its six levels at launch in March 2016. Less than two months before launch, Square Enix announced that Hitman would be completely episodic with the games six levels being released starting in March.
According to the publisher, the game will launch on March 11th with a prologue mission and the Paris map. The developers also promised that April would see the release of the Italian map (Sapienza) and the Moroccan map (Marrakesh) the month after that. While monthly content updates are mentioned to continue after May, no timetable is set for the release of the three remaining maps (Thailand, America and Japan) except to say that they’ll be part of the monthly content updates.
In the October announcement that the game would be split up with half the levels released at launch, IO Interactive promised that Paris, Sapienza and Marrakesh would be available on March 11th. April, May and June would have seen the release of the Thai, American and Japanese maps, respectively.
With the change in Hitman’s release schedule and content delivery plan, there is a new pricing model. The “Intro Pack” containing the prologue mission and Paris map will launch for $15. Each subsequent map can be added-on a la carte for $10 each. That brings the total price to $65 which matches the previous pricing plan of $35 at launch and $30 for the then three post-launch maps.
There is also a $60 “Full Experience” purchase for Hitman which allows you to buy all six maps upfront. This carries over from the October announcement. What seems to be new is Square Enix saying that the Full Experience purchase “includes all of this year’s content as it’s released.” The cynical interpretation is that if the sales support it, more content will be produced beyond the six maps and come out next year.
For Square Enix, this appears to be starting a pattern that they are pushing their big triple-A offerings into episodic games. We already knew the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be episodic. Now, Hitman is going to be episodic. If those two games are successful, this could start a big shift in the industry.
The real question is why Hitman is now episodic. When half the game was going to be delayed, it was clear that they weren’t going to be done on time and the half-delay kept the game inside this fiscal year for financial reporting purposes. With only $10 – $15 of reportable revenue per copy sold (there’s a fairly technical fair value argument that accountants will be having), it’s not like there’s a financial benefit to this payment model. Perhaps it’s just as simple as IO Interactive being further behind than we originally thought.
Source: Square Enix PR