How To Announce A Sequel In 2014: Level With Fans, Offer Comfort Food

How To Announce A Sequel In 2014: Level With Fans, Offer Comfort Food

What is the best way to announce a big sequel? Do it through a Game Informer cover? Put it on stage at E3? How about this: publish an open letter to fans in the sleepy month of January. That's what the Hitman people just did.

What we've got today is an open letter (read it here) that reveals that franchise caretakers Io Interactive are making a new Hitman game that will feature the titular hitman Agent 47 at the height of his career and capabilities. There's no release date and not many details. The game seems pretty far off, but it's still refreshing to see a studio admit that they're making an expected sequel rather than nothing-to-announce-yetting their way through the winter.

What we've also got, if you'll allow for some cynicism, is a letter to fans that doesn't do much to challenge fans' expectations. Do you want innovation in the sequels you play? Well, they're not going to tell you about any Hitman innovation just yet. Instead, today's open letter emphasises a return of things people loved before in Hitman games.

For example:

  • "The game concentrates on the core Hitman fantasy..."
  • "...using the best parts and what we have learnt through Hitman: Absolution and drawing inspiration from past titles like Contracts and Blood Money to fulfil the core Hitman fantasy."
  • "Contracts Mode is back"

Maybe it's unfair to point this out. After all, what they're promising for the PC and "next-gen" game sounds good. Big open levels. Sandbox-style play. Largest levels ever. This sounds good. It also sounds safe. Perhaps that's the first note a franchise caretaker needs to hit when talking to fans about their next thing. Start with the familiar. After that, there'll be time to talk about what's new.


    It's far too much to expect this from Bethesda isn't it

    They're promising everything people complained that the last one wasn't. And it's working for me!

      Agreed, the author sounds needlessly cynical. Bring back the core tenets from the best games in series, pepper with a small amount of the improvements made in Absolution, and you've got a winner. No need to completely reinvent the wheel for the sake of it.

        "Agreed, the author sounds needlessly cynical."

        He did and was completely aware of it:

        "Maybe it’s unfair to point this out. After all, what they’re promising for the PC and “next-gen” game sounds good."

        Yep. It's not a pop genre so it doesn't get stale the same way other franchises do. It's a bit like saying Rainbow Six and Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear were too similar. I'm not getting that strategic FPS action anywhere else, so as long as they weren't releasing a new Rainbow Six game every six months and they kept the quality up they could have just kept refining that gameplay.

        Last edited 17/01/14 3:40 pm

        I would be cynical too.
        I get it, they tried to make something new with an old series, but stripped some of the core elements of the game that people came to love. Now if the next one will have these elements it begs some questions. Did they even know what it was about their series that fans loved? And if so, why were they removed to start?

        What annoys me the most is as Beavwa said, games remove good features only to bring them back next game and we love them for it when we are essentially doing something we have done before.
        (GTA4 is a great example, I said back then that GTA5 will bring back a lot of the little things we had come to expect and know from the series and we will lap it up like a hot puppy)

        I agree though, getting it right with a mix of the old and new would be a great achievement for the series, once I finished Absolution, I just couldn't replay it, a first for that series in my case.

          I call them "Apology Games". Games right after another that had mixed fan reaction to the changes that bring them all back, but usually without thought.

          FF13-2 focused too much on sidequests and large open areas, because people complained about 13 being nothing but a hallway, for example.

          Ubisoft is the biggest culprit, with many of their franchise doing something new and then taking back all progress and changes. Far Cry 3, Blacklist, Prince of Persia. They did it a second time with Forgotten Sands, which I felt was too similar to Sands of Time and did nothing new.

            SimCity needs a BIG fucking apology game.

    I wonder what airport that is in the promo image

    Am guessing LAX, or possibly Amsterdam given the number of European cities listed

    The problem is what people love about a franchise differs from person to person, but all expect their preferences to prevail over others.

    Every Halo game has pretty much had the tag line of, "Going back to the core" for the next game. But every game will have people complaining about how it's "Not Halo" and want to go back to the core experience. With some people refering to Halo 2 as the core experience (what?).

    What, no stripper nuns being brutalised?

    I thought they could up the ante and maybe have 47 garroting some innocent children whilst stomping puppies into the ground set the the backdrop of a burning cancer patient ward?? C'mon at least try.

      I'd like to see 47 revealed as transgender, at which point we no longer control 47 but simply float the camera above the level like in Gasper Noe's "Enter the Void."

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