IO sale might not spell the end of Hitman

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In the downward spiral of bad news coming out of Hitman [official site] developer IO Interactive – first that it was being sold by Square Enix, and then that it was laying off staff – there’s finally something vaguely positive. It seems that the developer may get to keep making Hitman games after all.

The news emerged from a newly-published transcript of a financial briefing from May 11, the day Squeenix announced the IO sale. It says that the publisher is “negotiating with prospective external investors capable of ensuring” that Agent 47 survives.

That’s good news, because for all we knew Squeenix might have simply held on to the rights and allowed the series to sit dormant. A rumour circulating earlier this month said IO would continue to make season 2 of Hitman but this belated transcript makes that possibility official.

Here’s what Squeenix president Yosuke Matsuda said in full:

“Our decision to withdraw from the IO Interactive business was the result of a review of our portfolio that we conducted as part of our effort to concentrate our resources in order to strengthen our development capabilities.

“Because the firm is engaged in the development of Hitman and other renowned titles, we are negotiating with prospective external investors capable of ensuring that these titles carry on.”

So not only does that mean that Hitman could survive, but other games that IO is working on, including the Kane & Lynch series, could carry on as well.

In a follow-up Q&A, Matsuda was asked about the rationale behind the sale. He responded:

“Given the nature of the competitive landscape in the western markets as well as other considerations, we decided we needed to concentrate our development resources. The decision to withdraw from that business was the result of a review of our Group’s allocation of both financial and human resources.”

To be clear, this information comes from 11 May, and things could’ve changed by then. It doesn’t 100% mean that Hitman is surviving, but at least we know it’s a distinct possibility.

That would be good news indeed, because the latest iteration of the series was pretty darn good. Alec said that it was one of the games that showed PC gaming is in a “golden age”.

Hat tip to Gamespot for pointing this out.

17 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    Let’s hope they continue, been following IO for a long time and although not all their games hit the mark they have achieved a lot.

    Kane & Lynch 2 was simply amazing with its art and design and Hitman Blood Money and 2016 are real highlights of their portfolio.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Glad I’m not the only one who appreciates the art and world building of Kane and Lynch 2… I picked it up not because I love the movies or third person cover shooters, but because I love IO, and was curious to see how they handled a faster-paced, more action-oriented game instead of their usual slow, thinky simulation-stealth. K&L2 pretty much opened my eyes to just what a keen and exceptional team of artists IO have got, since it also had some gorgeous, impressive environments for its levels, but I already damn well knew they had some ace-high level designers.

      • Unclepauly says:

        I felt like it wasn’t the pos garbage everyone else said it was either. People dumped on that series and still do for some reason. Maybe the protagonists really are that unlikable.

  2. Hoot says:

    I was half-tempted to do a Let’s Play of the new Hitman for my channel but I am so meticulous when I play that game it would probably have taken me a thousand years.

    Instead I just stick to stuff like this :- link to youtu.be

  3. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    With a little luck maybe they’ll sell Eidos and Deus Ex as a package too…

    • Cross says:

      The former Eidos London HQ, now Squeenix Europe, seems to be the source of all these problems. So no, that’d be terrible.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      It’s worth remembering that the studio lead of Eidos Montreal left shortly after the released of Deus Ex: HR, and the reason he cited was that Squeenix Europe was impossible to work with. Many others left around the same time.

  4. Dreggsao says:

    “That’s good news, because for all we knew Squeenix might have simply held on to the rights and allowed the series to sit dormant.”

    Except that the Hitman IP was never owned by Squeenix but by IO. So it should always have been clear that as long as IO survives Hitman will too.

    • RichUncleSkeleton says:

      If Square owns IO and IO owns Hitman, then absent some remarkably shifty contractual legalese specifying otherwise, Square owns Hitman.

    • august says:

      Square owns IO and Hitman. If they wanted they could have IO make Final Fantasy spinoffs while never making another Hitman again. That’s what “owning” means.

  5. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    This was apparent with a little deductive reasoning right from the moment Square Enix announced it was selling off IO, because Hitman is literally the only reason any prospective new owner would even consider buying a mid-tier studio in an expensive market like Denmark. A developer without commercially-proven IP is just a liability. Unless you’re a heavy hitter like Rockstar North, id, or Bungie, studio branding isn’t worth squat. If Square intended to part out IO’s IP’s separately, they would have just shut down IO without any pretense of trying to sell something nobody would buy.

  6. Hyena Grin says:

    Definitely good news. I was looking forward to getting the second season of Hitman, and I was disappointed at the news of them getting shut down.

    Really hoping for a minor miracle here, and they end up with a good company that will give them the resources and attention they need.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Isnt that a pleasant thought.. what if this little debacle turned out in the long run to be the best thing that could’ve happened to em? Not impossible, depending.

    • desolation0 says:

      Yep, now we just need a good company with resources and attention to spare and an interest in Hitman to exist.

  7. MeestaNob says:

    Reckon Sega will buy them. Makes sense when you look at their growing strategy and simulations portfolio.