A month ago, Square Enix announced that it was severing ties with Hitman developer IO Interactive. Fans of the franchise were shocked, sure that it would mean the death for Agent 47… but today, there’s some good news. IO Interactive is now officially an independent studio, having bought itself back from the publisher – and, excitingly – the deal means all of the rights to the Hitman series stay with IOI.
Company CEO Hakan Abrak broke the news, and could hardly contain his excitement:
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.
The studio was first formed nearly 20 years ago, and in the two decades since, has created video games across a pretty broad spectrum. Recent times have seen IO focussing on a handful of anti-heroes, with “Gaming’s most notorious criminals,” Kane & Lynch joining Agent 47 on the roster.
And while every developer will tell you that its most recent game is its best, for IO it was undeniable. The latest Hitman set out to disrupt the video game business, and achieved this in spades – to great acclaim from everyone across the media, community and fanbase.
There are many tales of hope, dreams, hardship and joy within these walls. We have never strived for the expected or predictable. Instead, we are always in pursuit for what feels original and real. Our passion and determination has never been greater and so that is why we have decided it is not the time to stop as we have many more exciting and original tales to tell.
The team has “successfully concluded” its negotiations with Square Enix, effectively buying itself out of the publishing deal, originally struck eight years ago. It doesn’t look like the break-up is a particularly angry one either: Abrak describes Square Enix as “a great family to be a part of”. Now though, it’s simply time for IOI to go back to what it once was.
IOI started as an independent studio and we will now return to those roots with an extremely passionate and talented team.
…and rather than sit back and enjoy their newfound independence, the team at IOI are jumping right back into work, with “more details to come” on the future of Hitman coming as early as next week.