The head of developer IO Interactive, Hannes Seifert, has said that he “absolutely feels right” about the game’s episodic nature but has admitted that he is “personally really sorry” for the confusion which has resulted from the change in plans.
In an interview with VideoGamer.com, Seifert acknowledged that the team at IO has done a fair share of soul searching since the game’s original announcement and the subsequently altered launch plans. He added that the original plan for the game following the release of Absolution was to launch it episodically but over the course of development plans changed and it’s only now that IO and Square Enix are convinced that players are willing to support a triple A episodic game that they’ve reverted to that launch model.
“This detouring caused some confusion that I’m personally really sorry for,” he said, before adding, “but now we’ve ended up on what absolutely feels right.”
The story, gameplay, and IO’s technology have all been designed around supporting the episodic format.
When Hitman was originally announced at E3 last summer, IO planned to release it as a fully priced $60 game in 2015 with limited content which would be padded out by free levels rolled out for free throughout 2016.
Following criticism of that approach, IO announced it would delay the game until March in order in include additional content and added a basic “Intro Pack” to accommodate players who didn’t want to spend $60 on the promise of content to come.
Last month the game’s launch plans were altered yet again, with IO moving fully to an episodic model. In so doing, they stripped Hitman’s launch content to a single location, Paris, and the game’s Prologue mission in which Agent 47 trains at a secret ICA facility.
“For the people, I understand, it should be scrutinised, people should have strong opinions about it,” Seifert continued. He noted that players concerned about the model could buy the game when all of the content has been released and still get $60 worth of value.
On Friday of this week, a closed beta including the Prologue Mission will launch on PlayStation 4 with PC players able to have a go next week. Access to the beta is available to everyone who pre-orders the Intro Pack, Full Experience, or Collector’s Edition. Pre-ordering a physical version of the game will not grant you access to the beta. You’ll need a continuous internet connection to play the beta but the final game.
Hitman launches for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on March 11th with additional episodes to introduce contracts in Japan, Morocco, Italy, Thailand, and the United States.