It was the news of the year when Square Enix decided to sell IO interactive. The news was announced in May, with the Japanese firm initially looking to sell the studio to another publisher but eventually settling on a management buyout (MBO) with the IO team, giving the Hitman studio its independence.
It was a surprise for the fans since the digital-centric episodic 2016 iteration of Hitman had gained much fame and revived the series to suit the next generation. The game was very well received by fans and critics alike and generated more than sufficient revenue for the parent company, dispelling any notion of financial offsets.
CEO Yosuke Matsuda gave his statement regarding the same, revealing that this difficult decision was a necessary one to ensure the continued success of his company.
“In the case of Hitman, I personally love the game,” he tells us. “I think it’s very unique, but I always have to look at things from the perspective of what it costs us to develop it and the performance it delivers. In doing that, in the case of Hitman, we had several expectations where that balance was not sufficiently achieved.”
“A decision had to be made in terms of our relationship with the Hitman team. I wanted them to continue to develop the game, but I thought in terms of investing further in the game it would be best if they worked with another partner other than ourselves.”
The resource conflict that the CEO is referring is the result of the multi-year partnership with Marvel Studios to produce various games from the Marvel Universe, starting from ‘The Avengers Project’.
In short. the company could not afford IO anymore so they set them free, yet they permitted them to keep the IP. Why? “It’s because I believe it wouldn’t be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by IO,” says Matsuda. “I love the game, and I believe the fans of Hitman think it’s only Hitman if it’s made by IO. So I thought that was the best way for the game to continue, and that’s why we were supportive of the MBO and of course didn’t mind if they continued to use the IP.”