Update 7: IO Interactive has embarked on a mission to improve Hitman. After the recent update, many Xbox One owners complained about long loading times and other problems. Well, the developers released a patch to fix that.
Today, Square Enix issued a rather shocking statement regarding IO Interactive. According to the publisher, they’ve decided to “withdraw from the business of IO Interactive, a wholly-owned subsidiary” of Square Enix. While the legal language is confusing, this means that Square Enix won’t invest in the developer anymore. Without investors, studios die. IO Interactive are known for making games like Hitman so the future of that franchise also hangs in the balance.
Square Enix has "withdraw from the business of IO Interactive" pic.twitter.com/fPAQ2c16R3
— Wario64 (@Wario64) May 11, 2017
Last we heard, IO Interactive was working on Hitman: Season Two so that project may be put on hold until the developer finds another publisher or investor. It’s unclear whether the studio is up for sale too. We’ve reached out to IO Interactive and Square Enix for comment and shall update this story as soon as we know more.
Update 1: According to IO Interactive, the developer has started discussions with potential new investors and is currently in negotiations to secure this investment. Let’s hope this works out and the studio is saved. It looks like Square Enix made this decision due to the latest Hitman game’s low sales. Square Enix on the other hand has said that they’ll be investing in “games as a service” experiences which bring in recurring revenue, like multiplayer games with microtransactions or free-to-play titles with microtransactions. It might not just be Hitman that’s on the chopping block here.
Update 2: According to rumors swirling around on European outlets, it looks like IO interactive will retain rights to Hitman, with Season Two expected in 2018.
Update 3: On May 23, IO Interactive is letting a lot of employees go after Square Enix abandoned them. There’s no news of whether they’ve found a new partner or publisher to purchase them.
Update 4: Square Enix said they would be willing to part with Hitman’s rights if it meant the game could live on. So far they have been unable to find a buyer for IO Interactive. It isn’t looking good. Maybe Microsoft can step in and at least acquire the franchise.
Update 5: IO Interactive has decided to pull parts of Hitman from digital stores but they’ll return once they’re modified. It seems as though they want to move away from the episodic nature of the release.
Update 6: After weeks of struggle, IO Interactive just announced that they’ve become independent and retain control of the Hitman franchise. That settles it then. As a result, you can play the beginning of Hitman for free on Xbox One. Just download the game and play the opening.