IO-Interactive announced today that its upcoming Hitman game will now be released as an episodic series throughout the year, rather than as a complete game up front.
This is a bit of a last-minute switch, since the game is slated to launch in March and is expected to enter a public beta in less than a month. However, it's not totally unexpected, since the development team has previously made vague statements about designing Hitman as a "live experience" bolstered by regular content updates.
Now the first episode of Hitman will still launch digitally on March 11th, but the rest will be released throughout the year in an unspecified number of updates, seemingly culminating at the end of the year with a complete $60 (at least in the U.S.) disc release at retail.
The studio made the announcement after some customers who had pre-ordered the full $60 game via PSN saw their pre-orders mysteriously cancelled yesterday, accompanied by a message from Sony explaining it was due to the fact that "the configuration of the product you pre-ordered...has changed significantly."
That change seems to be due (at least in part) to a desire on the developer's part to spend more time on the game. IO-Interactive head of studio Hannes Seifert stated in a press release announcing the decision that "part of that decision is for that little bit of extra time to ensure every location we release is at the quality level fitting for a Hitman game."
He went on to note that the studio is also making the change because it wants to "create a living game that will expand and evolve over time," and the aforementioned press release makes multiple mentions of an intent to ensure Hitman has a "major live component" that includes weekly live events.