Game developer IO interactive has announced that it will be delaying the release of the much-anticipated next Hitman game. Previously scheduled to land on December 8, Hitman will now arrive in March 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Hitman was originally going to use a model where only a portion of the full game was made available digitally, with the remaining parts of the game, such as later levels and new hit contracts, added over the subsequent months. A traditional boxed release would also be made available next year when the entire game was complete.

Although IO is sticking with this staggered release model, the company decided to postpone the launch date in order to add more initial content. It says the delay will also allow it to increase the release frequency of the game's updates.

We're going for a new release model where we put out a good chunk of the game when it begins and then release the remaining locations over time. We want to make absolutely sure you all get the best possible experience when you join, so we've made the difficult decision to move the initial release date to March 2016. These few extra months will mean we can add more to the launch content of the game, more than we had originally planned.

IO has called Hitman "the biggest venture we've ever undertaken ... Not just in terms of scope and ambition but also in terms of the size of the game world itself." Below you'll see a comparison between the largest level in Hitman Absolution and the Paris section of the new game.

IO has said that anyone who chooses the early adopter option will get access to Hitman's 'live' element - a series of one-off assassination events similar to a daily challenge or a live MMO event where players are notified, via the internet, when a target has appeared in a certain level and how long they'll be there. These one-off missions require a successful assassination of the target within the time limit as they won't be returning at a later date.

Whether this season pass-like system is a success for IO remains to be seen. Although, should the game match the quality of the series' highpoint, generally agreed to be Hitman: Blood Money, then the new Hitman will likely be a success no matter what type of release model is used.