I think part of what affected Hitman’s success was the announcement before release that the content would be episodic. That sort of distribution model hasn’t quite yet proven itself and I think initial sales were affected by skepticism. Thankfully, Hitman has paved roads to legitimising the model with unique mechanics like “temporary targets” (Sorry, I forgot the actual name) that might not work as well with traditional game releases. Not to mention being the strongest Hitman title in a while. Sadly, similarly to Evolution’s Driveclub, those slow starts can really affect a game’s lasting impact and reputation. Luckily, IO Interactive have only strengthened the Hitman fanbase after this game.
Square Enix are also infamous for lofty sales expectations, the numbers they wanted out of the last Tomb Raider game were ridiculous. However, if rumours are to be believed, the next title in the series has been shifted to another developer whilst Crystal Dynamics begins work on the Guardians of the Galaxy game. That must mean a) SE still see the value of the AAA Single Player experience and b) they still value Crystal Dynamics enough to work on valuable IP despite the studio “underperforming” with their last title.
What behaviour, as a publisher, makes you think they don’t see Single Player experiences as viable anymore?
Note: Great read. I had no idea you had been a part of Pandemic, EA have been brutal in the past in terms of studio shutdowns (I fear Bioware may be next on the list).