After the gaming industry went on a dubstep-and-Dew-fueled vacation to E3 last week, it’s now back to business as usual. By “business,” I of course mean layoffs, and goodness gracious, figurative business is booming. However, literal business – the part where people make money – isn’t faring so well because, well, layoffs. This time, the sobering specter took its scythe to Hitman developer IO Interactive, reducing its workforce by “almost half”. Yeesh. The plan to get things back on track? Er, make more Hitman. Which is to say, make nothing but Hitman.
Square Enix explained the situation in a statement to Develop:
“We have taken the difficult decision to cancel other studio projects and initiatives at IO and reduce the workforce in this studio, which will impact almost half of the employees currently at IO, as we make internal adjustments to face the challenges of today’s market.”
“Hannes Seifert, formerly Production Director for 3 years at the studio, will take over the position of Studio Head at IO. The studio will focus resolutely on the future vision for the Hitman franchise and is in pre-production on a new triple-A Hitman project.”
So basically, whatever IO had in development that wasn’t the next Hitman has now been silently, elegantly 86’d by 47. Sayonara, Kane, Lynch, or whomever else might’ve been skulking around in the shadow of IO’s bald savior. That said, IO’s next Hitman might not end up being the next Hitman – at least, if previous word of a Call-of-Duty-style development relay race between IO and Square Enix Montreal holds up.
To Square Enix’s credit, it’s trying to move as many former IO devs over to other studios and projects as possible. Honestly, it could’ve used E3 as a smokescreen for this dismal turn of events if it really wanted. Instead, however, it waited until everyone had a clear view of the proceedings, presumably in an effort to find former employees new jobs more quickly. Bravo on that.
I’m trying to unearth more details about what else IO was working on before the gaming industry’s well-worn axe fell right down the center of its meticulously chromed dome. If I find out anything else, you lovely people will be the first to know.