Today, Denmark-based developer IO interactive announced that it is now officially an independent studio, and more importantly that is has retained the rights of the Hitman IP — the franchise it has worked on since 200o when it released Hitman: Codename 47, and made a total of six games for (including the most recent: 2016’s Hitman).
As you may remember, back on May 11th, Square Enix announced that it was divesting ownership of IO, aka it was looking to off-load it. According to the Japanese developer and publisher this was done to narrow its focus on key franchises and studios; and clearly IO Interactive was not one of these studios and Hitman is obviously not one of these franchises.
That being said, rather then be purchased by another company/publisher, IO Interactive has agreed with Square Enix to a management buyout, that will see them take the rights of Hitman with it. Speaking of Hitman, according to IO Interactive, it will have more to announce on the future of the franchise sometime next week.
Io Interactive CEO, Hakan Abrak accompanied the announcement with the following statement:
In its 19 years of history, Io-Interactive has brought you original and exciting entertainment; from Mini Ninjas and Freedom Fighters to gaming’s most notorious criminals Kane & Lynch and of course our beloved Agent 47. With our latest game, we have not only transformed Hitman, but also moved our entire studio into the AAA digital era. Our live product has disrupted the video game business and has received recognition and praise from press, community and our fans.
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.
Therefore 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.
I would like to say a big and sincere thank you to all of our players, community, friends in the media and everyone else connected to the studio for the messages of support that we have received in the last few weeks. I would also like to thank Square Enix; it has been a great family to be a part of and we are proud of what we have achieved together in the last eight years. IOI started as an independent studio and we will now return to those roots with an extremely passionate and talented team.
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.
Square Enix notably acquired IO Interactive when it purchased its parent company Eidos Interactive back in 2009. Alongside Hitman, the developer is also known for developing the Kane & Lynch series, an IP it presumably did not take with it alongside Hitman.