Square Enix has announced that it has put Hitman developer IO Interactive up for sale, throwing the future of the Hitman series and the previously announced Hitman Season 2 into doubt.
Though the decision to sell IO Interactive was made in March 2017, it has only been made public today in a note published by the company, which reads: “To maximise player satisfaction as well as market potential going forward, we are focusing our resources and energies on key franchises and studios. As a result, the Company has regrettably decided to withdraw from the business of IO Interactive A/S, a wholly‐owned subsidiary and a Danish corporation, as of March 31, 2017.”
Discussing the potential future of IO Interactive following its separation from its former publisher, Square continues: “As a result of this the Company started discussions with potential new investors and is currently in negotiations to secure this investment. Whilst there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully, they are being explored since this is in the best interests of our shareholders, the studio and the industry as a whole.”
Hitman Season 2 was “confirmed” back in November 2016 at Paris Games Week, though the Danish developer didn’t reveal any more information pertaining to the game. It’s unclear at this point whether or not the Hitman franchise will continue following IO’s departure from Square, though if the developer doesn’t find a new investor, they could be shut down altogether. Considering that the sales of Hitman Season 1 have led to the company being sold, it remains to be seen whether any potential new investors will want IO Interactive to continue to pursue the episodic format for the stealth franchise.
IO Interactive was purchased by Square Enix in 2009, with the developer having released Hitman: Absolution and the critically acclaimed Hitman Season 1 during this time period. However, while the episodic reboot of the Hitman franchise may have been well-received by critics, it didn’t match Square Enix’s sales expectations, despite IO Interactive previously stating that they were “pretty happy” with the numbers it pulled in.
Square Enix has a history of over-estimating its games potential sales figures, with the company having previously been disappointed by the 3.4 million copies shifted by 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot. With Hitman Season 1 having been primarily released as a downloadable game, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly how many sales were made throughout its lifetime, though it must have failed to meet expectations by a considerable amount for IO Interactive to have been put up for sale by the publisher.