Having seen their ties with publishers Square Enix severed after 13 years of partnership, Hitman series developers IO Interactive (IOI) have issued a statement declaring both their new independence, and retaining of what is probably their strongest IP.
In May, it was reported that the Japan-headquartered Square Enix was to "withdraw" from working with IOI, which is based in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, and that they'd be looking for new investors to come in and pick up the company. There were some "extraordinary" losses in the Square books, to the tune of around $43 million, and naturally those books needed some balancing. So: sorry, but see ya, IOI.
What wasn't immediately commented on was the future of Hitman, undeniably IOI's biggest success, and a critical hit for Square Enix throughout 2016's episodic installment.
Now, we know where the fate of bald-headed assassin Agent 47 lies—and, many would say thankfully, it's with his original makers. IO Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak has made an announcement that clarifies both the studio's position, and that of the Hitman series.
The message, "The Future of IOI", is available in full on the IOI website, but the highlights are, essentially:
"I am proud to announce today that IOI 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 IOI. As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP–we're about to forge our own future and it's incredibly exciting. We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.
"We are counting on the continued support of all our players; simply by having fun with everything we've released so far for HITMAN–and we want to encourage more of you to try our game. We have more details to come on our plans for that next week."
IOI had previously announced that a second season of the current Hitman format—with each episode set in a different, exotic location—was going to happen, so it could be that "next week" brings us more news of that.
I mean, it'll be that or Kane & Lynch 3, right?