Hitman is one of the most intriguing, diabolical and entertaining game franchises in video games. Players suit up as Agent 47, a super human bred and born for one purpose, to assassinate people in the most creative ways in the most unique of locations.
The Hitman series, like most ongoing franchises, has seen its bumps and bruises. The series hasn’t been perfect but has done its best to at least be entertaining for those who play it.
Unfortunately, Hitman: Absolution (the most recent release) was a firm step in the wrong direction. No, it wasn’t a bad game, and technically speaking worked just fine. Visually, it was on par with the other Hitman titles (although, they were never known for being visually beautiful). The story, and mission structure, was entirely not correct for the series. Hitman was meant to be mini open world contracts(see Hitman: Blood Money), instead of one linear narrative.
Square Enix, the developer and designer of the Hitman franchise, set out to change this. The change comes at a most intriguing, possibly alarming way. Instead of going through a narrative structure, or building out a game at once. The game will resort to what is called ‘episodic releases’.
These releases will be timed throughout the year of 2016 (no information regarding the length of these releases past 2016). The first release will be featured around Paris, this location, matched with a prologue mission will set you back around $15 USD. Instead of the game’s originally intended release for April, being at the usual $60 USD price point and multiple locations/missions, the game has reverted to episodic downloadable releases at a price of $10 USD per episode.
Sure, if you would like, you can purchase the game for $65 USD as soon as you would like. Unfortunately, the content will not be available to you, and will be given to the player as soon as it releases among its 2016 dates (April and May are the nearest releases).
Square Enix has had difficulty designing this game (see multiple set backs and delays) and this odd payment structure is quite the oddity to add to a troubled development. However, instead of doing it strictly out of need, it seems like Square Enix has not only adopted this method, but is now enamored with it. Not only will Hitman feature this system, but other Square Enix titles will soon follow as well.
This system, if you haven’t figured out yet, is not only convoluted but terrifying in its possibilities for gamers. What happened to developers meeting deadlines and producing quality games at a reasonable, expected price point? This next generation of gaming was supposed to evolve gaming and immerse gamers, not cripple them for more money.
If you want to pay $15 dollars for pieces of the game, or $10 for additional content, then that is absolutely fine. However, remind yourself that Square Enix has struggled in the development stage of this game from day one. Does it feel right to reward a studio with more money, when they haven’t produced. Furthermore, can you feel right giving them money when you don’t, with absolute certainty, know if they will complete the content you paid for?
The system, the logic and methodology behind episodic content is mind numbing. This trend by developers, like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, who are tending more to downloadable content than the actual game itself is starting to turn its ugly head for gamers. All we can hope is that developers and publishers finally come to the realization that all we want is a fully developed game at the traditional price point.