We’ve said for years how we actively encourage game delays rather than play broken or unpolished products. There’s too much of an emphasis on releasing glitch-ridden games with the attitude of patching it up at a later date. I mean, Arkham Knight on PC still isn’t back in the shops!
But that’s not the reason I’m glad to see Hitman delayed into 2016. Square Enix were going to try something new this December by releasing Hitman at full price on digital stores as an incomplete product. Essentially, an episodic or segmented release, where Io Interactive would continue to develop later chapters throughout 2016 with them becoming available as free downloads when they were ready. It’s not exactly a Kickstarter model, but it’s pretty damn close. ‘Give us money and we’ll finish this game at some point.’
The idea of paying full-price for a game and only getting a fraction of it, is frankly disgusting, I said as much at length in this article: Hitman’s segmented release is anti-gamer. A slippery slope if ever there was one.
But some of the logic behind the decision to delay the game seems to be swinging Hitman back towards a more consumer-friendly area. A statement on the game’s official website reads:
“We want to make absolutely sure you all get the best possible experience when you join, so we’ve made the difficult decision to move the initial release date to March 2016. These few extra months will mean we can add more to the launch content of the game, more than we had originally planned, and then follow with a tighter frequency of updates, which ultimately will create a better game for everyone. And in the end, that’s what we’re all looking for.”
It would seem some common sense has prevailed. Perhaps Square and Io took a long hard look at the launch content (or lack of it) and realised they were facing a potential mauling from the fans and press alike.
More launch content is great news for loyal Hitman fans who are willing to put some cash down on day one. The ‘tighter frequency of updates’ could mean that Hitman will become a complete product sooner than originally anticipated and it’s then that we’ll be able to fully judge whether the game is worth your money or not. The original December launch from Square Enix seemed a bit risky too given the strong lineup of games launching in the weeks before, not to mention Square’s own Just Cause 3.
All the commotion is a shame really, as it’s detracting from the actual game itself. The open approach to missions as displayed by the lengthy Paris demo showed that Hitman is shaping up very nicely. We’re still reasonably confident that the finished product is going to be a lot of fun, but there’s no way in hell we’re paying for a game that’s potentially still largely on the drawing board.
When the game launches though, it puts us at Dealspwn in an awkward position. One of the cores of our site is finding you good deals for games and that extends into our reviews and whether we can recommend a title. How are we to do this with an unfinished product or what could be crudely compared to a long demo? If we do ‘review’ the launch content we certainly won’t be putting a numbered score on it and frankly anyone else who is accredited on Metacritic shouldn’t either, as it’s unfair to any consumers that rely on Metacritic as a guide. Instead, we’d strongly advise on reading through multiple reviews or even just waiting until the full version launches on disc later next year. As gamers, we have the power to ensure that segmented releases don’t become an appealing release model for triple A games by voting with our wallets.