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Technology Is Responsible For Agent 47’s Iconic, Bald Hitman Head
by Mike Futter on Sep 02, 2015 at 10:45 AM
Platform PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC
Publisher Square Enix
Developer IO Interactive
Rating Mature

With seven games and two lackluster movies in the past 15 years, there are few heads in gaming as recognizable as Agent 47’s. He’s bald, menacing, and has a strange barcode tattoo on the back of his noggin. But that wasn’t always the plan.

At PAX this past weekend, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel featuring three members of the Hitman team at IO Interactive. As I was discussing the agenda with the team, art director Jonathan Rowe mentioned that he had recently been talking with the team on the original Hitman game, Codename 47.

What emerged was that 47 wasn’t always supposed to be bald. Much like Mario’s now-iconic mustache was an artifact of technology limitations, so is the notorious Hitman’s shining dome.

“We dug up the original pitch document from 1998,” Rowe says. “I wanted to find out the origins behind Agent 47’s looks, why did they arrive at the style. It turns out that originally, Agent 47 was going to be a guy in his 40s with a gray, receding hairline.”

Unfortunately, the team working on the game couldn’t get it to look quite right. “They couldn’t achieve hair that looked good enough in game,” Rowe explains. "After a few days of experimenting, they just decided he was going to be bald.”

That, in turn, led to other opportunities. 47’s head became a canvas, and one designer had an idea of what to decorate it with.

“It turns out that there was a disguise from the asylum mission in Codename 47, and this was simply going to be part of the disguise for infiltrating that level,” Rowe says. “When they tried it out on 47, it really stuck and people thought it looked great. These details just sometimes arrive by accident.”

This was just one of the elements of the hour-long conversation about the upcoming game that included discussion of the story, the art style, and a narrated look at gameplay in the “Showstopper” stage. You can see the entire video above courtesy of YouTube user Bit Calamity.

Products In This Article



PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC
Release Date:
December 8, 2015 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), 
September 1, 2020 (Stadia)