A few weeks ago, Square Enix suddenly announced that they were “withdrawing their business” from IO Interactive. Later on we received confirmation that IO Interactive was looking for a new partner and the future of the Hitman franchise was up in the air. Would Square Enix control it? Would IO Interactive? We didn’t know. Many rumors started floating around stating that Square Enix would be willing to give up control of Hitman if “the franchise would live on”. Such vague statements don’t mean much because IO Interactive was in crisis.
Today, IO Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak updated everyone on the situation and confirmed that the studio was becoming an independent developer. Not only that, but they would keep on making Hitman games. Abrak said:
“With our latest game, we have not only transformed Hitman, but also moved our entire studio into the AAA digital era. Our live product has disrupted the video game business and has received recognition and praise from press, community and our fans. There are many tales of hope, dreams, hardship and joy within these walls. We have never strived for the expected or predictable…Therefore I am proud to announce today that IO Interactive is now officially an independent studio. We have successfully concluded our negotiations with Square Enix and have agreed to a management buyout. Crucially, we will keep all of the rights to the Hitman IP. This is a watershed moment for IO Interactive. As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP.”
This is amazing news and we wish IO Interactive well in the future. Hopefully this means that the team can bring larger changes to the Hitman franchise and make it appealing to more gamers. For starters, a stronger narrative which maybe adds an additional “human” element to Agent 47 would be a great way to proceed. However, at this point we’re just glad Hitman and IO Interactive live on.