Metrics can be a double-edged sword. While crunching numbers can inform developers on how to weight their games in terms of content, they can also result in some fairly miserable projections. Case in point: IO Interactive believing that only a fifth of players will complete Hitman: Absolution.
“We are using metrics a lot more now than we did, for good and for bad,” IO's Tore Blystad told OPM. “The general player will probably never even finish the game, which is very sad. Or they might only play through it once, but the game is built for the people who want to go back through every single level and get all the stuff out of it. It’s built to last, rather than be a one-off experience."
“I guess people can’t commit to taking all those hours to finish one product, they get tired of it. It’s not just for this game, it’s for any game. Knowing that 20% of the players will see the last level of the game. It’s horrible to know. It makes the people working on it really really sad.”
Blystad elaborated on their figures, suggesting that they could have used their projections to front-load Hitman: Absolution with the tastiest content, ensuring that the majority of players can access it. However, sadly, Absolution's narrative left little room for such
It’s very difficult when something is constructed to fit into a larger story to move things too much around,” he said. “I think in some of the previous Hitman games that that might have been the case – that some levels were moved earlier, because they were more catchy or interesting. For us it hasn’t really been that easy, because the story is really tying all the levels together, so they’re still coming in the same order, more or less, that they were designed.
“In the user tests we have they actually tell us that the replayability factor in itself, it’s the situation or the humour that’s the reason people actually go back through the levels, they want to see more, they want to find these things, which makes us very happy, because it takes a lot of time and effort to get these things in.”
To be honest, this sounds like a challenge to me. Will you make the glorious fifth?
Hitman Absolution is shaping up rather nicely, with our E3 preview shedding light on the fact that it's a proper sandbox rather than a straightforward shooter (as many feared).