Hitman Developers Were Inspired by Tarantino and Coca-Cola, New Book Reveals

Hitman is one of the most iconic games in the stealth genre, putting us in the shoes of the elusive Agent 47. He’s instantly recognizable from his bald head to his barcode, and that was no accident. In the upcoming book The History of the Stealth Game, it is revealed that IO Interactive wanted to “create a brand that could stand the test of time, like Coca-Cola”.

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This book is written by Kirk McKeand (Disclosure: Kirk McKeand is a former editor of TheGamer) and it details how IO Interactive launched its beloved series, fighting to retain the rights while building an engaging leader. Part of that was branding – Coca-Cola has instantly recognizable signifiers such as the red C, so much so that you would recognize a broken bottle as Coca-Cola. IO applied this approach to the design of Agent 47.

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Art director Rasmus Guldberg-Kjær led the team in this design, starting with a bald man. Then came the black suit, red tie, white shirt and black gloves. But as McKeand said, “It could be any bald man.” So the team added a barcode to the back of their head and showcased their signature weapons, the Fiber Yarn and dual silverballer guns. Agent 47 was born. Even in a new outfit stolen from a security guard, you know it’s him.


The series kicked off and eventually grew until the release of Absolution, a narrower entry in the series that had more linear levels with an emphasis on escapism rather than assassination. Agent 47 was on the run. And it came with a whole new tone.

“Much of its vibe was due to the influence of art director Tore Blystad,” McKeand wrote. “Heavily inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino, the tone shifted to lean more heavily on the show’s dark humor aspect, with Chicago chosen as the setting due to its urban variety, desert badlands, sleepy suburbs, of its captivating art deco architecture and exciting cityscapes.

You can Pre-order The Story of Stealth Gaming: From Metal Gear to Splinter Cell and Everything In Between on Amazon just ahead of its October 30 release.

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