In a new tell-all documentary from Noclip, the CEO and co-owner of IO Interactive has revealed that the episodic Netflix model for series reboot, Hitman (2016), had a “historic, catastrophic start commercially”.
Hakan Abrak said the strategy to get people playing the game by offering a cheaper price point for the first individual mission “completely failed”. The sales strategy went “completely opposite” what the studio wanted and had expected. Instead of a lot of players trying out the game for a cheaper price point for a single, large mission, the wonderful Paris mission in this case, players were purchasing the entire, unreleased title for $60, simply trusting in the pedigree of the developer to provide great missions over the course of the year.
That may sound like an ideal scenario initially, with players handing over more money for more content, instead of less money for one level. However, the issue was that those players dropping $60 were not arriving in their droves.
“We estimated that 80% [of sales] would be the low entry point, but the volumes would be higher, much higher, and it would only be 20% of those paying 60 bucks. But the percentage was opposite, it was 80% full price. The volumes were much smaller, the strategy did not work”, Abrak explains.
“This is where the first nervousness of Square Enix [began]”, Abrak says. Square Enix parted with IO Interactive in 2017, forcing huge lay offs at the studio, at a time when the development of Hitman 2 and other projects were in full swing.
The studio, now fully independent, are flourishing with their Hitman 2 roadmap, having just released a brand new, and wholly excellent, Bank level as part of the game’s season pass. A third Hitman game is planned too, which the documentary reveals some more details on, including how the title may return to the episodic format.
Be sure to check out Noclip’s excellent multi-part deep-dive into the history, and future, of the Hitman franchise. The first episode, titled ‘The Fall & Rise of Hitman’ is available on Noclip’s YouTube channel.
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