Hitman, the latest entry in the stealth franchise, released episodically throughout 2016. After receiving critical acclaim for its gameplay and replayability, Io Interactive has announced that the first episode (of seven) is now completely free, featuring all of the content in its original paid release. There are also numerous discounts among all platforms for fans who want to purchase the rest of the game.
In the free episode, there are two story missions including cutscenes, two “Escalation Contracts,” over 40 challenges, and 17 achievements/trophies to unlock. There are also user-created challenges, meaning that fans can replay the level in “thousands” of ways. All progress made in this free download will transfer to a full purchase of Hitman.
Io Interactive used to work under publisher Square Enix, but they have recently transitioned into an independent studio. After working with Square Enix, they left with a management buyout, leading to Io Interactive acquiring full ownership and control over the Hitman IP. Along with this shift back to being an independent studio, IOI announced that they will reveal more information on the future of the Hitman franchise next week.
With the first episode of Hitman being completely free, Io Interactive has given players further incentive to buy the rest of the game with discounts on the remaining levels and the complete first season. Xbox One owners, PS4 owners who also have Playstation Plus, and Steam users can pick up the complete Season One package for approximately $23.99, while individual levels are priced at $3.99. PS4 owners who do not own Playstation Plus will not see the full discount, with the complete Season One package priced at $41.99, and the individual episodes at $6.99.
A free trial is always a good way to get more fans to purchase a game, and with the critical acclaim Hitman has received throughout its episodic release, this free portion of the game should be well received by the players who give it a shot. Fans interested in Hitman last year were cautious to invest in the episodic structure so its commercial success was not as large as it could have been. Now that fans have a way to test the waters, Io Interactive should benefit both financially and as an indicator of where to take the Hitman franchise.