Agent 47 is now working independently. IO Interactive, the studio behind the Hitman series (as well as a few others, like Kane and Lynch) has officially broken off from Square-Enix to become its own company. Square acquired the studio among others a few years ago in an effort to expand their appeal in the Western market.
This meant IO’s flagship series, Hitman, was a Square IP for a while. But now that they’ve separated IO has retained the rights to Hitman, which is only fair, as it’s a series they created. If Square wants to make further Hitman games, they will need to negotiate with IO. The latter studio will announce their plans for Hitman’s future next week.
IO’s latest Hitman game was unconventionally released in episodic format, with five “episodes” coming out once per month. Three “seasons” were planned, and it’s unknown at this time if they have been cancelled or not.
IO’s full public statement is reproduced below.
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.