Hitman developer Io-Interactive will become a fully independent studio which will retain the rights to the Hitman franchise.
This somewhat shocking announcement comes on the heels of reports which suggested that Square Enix was shopping around the Hitman franchise and was considering selling it separately from developer Io if the right offer came along.
It’s not entirely clear why Square Enix decided to let the property and studio go, but Io CEO Hakan Abrak did make an official statement regarding the transition which sheds a little light on the studio’s future.
“I am proud to announce today that IOI is now officially an independent studio,” said Abrak. “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.”
Abrak went on to call this a “watershed moment for IOI” and confirmed that the studio now has complete creative control over Hitman and the direction of the studio in general.
This is great news for fans of the studio and especially fans of the Hitman franchise, but it’s not the end of this story quite yet. Now that IO is independent, they do have the option of either striking a deal with another parent studio or offering up the exclusive rights to future Hitman games.
Whether or not the studio will actually offer up either is a matter of how they stand financially and whether or not they have any interest in being associated with any one company. While Io is obviously doing well enough to arrange a buyout, they may indeed choose to secure their future by striking some kind of deal with Sony or Microsoft that will help secure the development of their next project.