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 emphasizes 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.