IO Interactive now an independent studio, retains rights to Hitman series

Last month Square Enix announced its plans to drop IO Interactive and part ways with the Hitman franchise. At the time, this put the future of both the studio and franchise at risk, while the publisher searched for willing investors. IO Interactive has now made the transition to an independent studio while retaining full control over the Hitman series.

As confirmed by CEO at IO Interactive, Hakan Abrak, the studio will now continue to operate without the oversight of Square Enix. Abrak stressed this decision should lead to improved creative flexibility, with the freedom to collaborate and partner with external companies.

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.

Hitman introduced a significant change to its formula back in 2016, through a seasonal episodic-based rollout. With IO Interactive having previously confirmed development on the second season of content, it's highly likely that work on the project has continued after the split. The studio is set to announce further details on its independent plans sometime next week.

Hitman - The Complete First Season review

See at the Xbox Store (opens in new tab)

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • IO Interactive has the talent to produce AAA blockbuster games. It would be great if Microsoft steps in and buys it, making it a Xbox first party publisher.
  • Amen to that. IO would be an awesome grab for Microsoft. Long live Hitman!
  • I was thinking the same thing.
  • Definitely. Bringing in Hitman to be a future Xbox One exclusive would be great. IO will have increased flexibility but possibly less of a budget. Who owns Kane and Lynch? IO interactive made that game and the second one especially was really cool
  • I completely disagree, Microsoft have closed or halved great studios as they retrenched from the consumer sector. Which is a massive mistake in my opinion. I am more concerned about the loss of talent and franchises not the lack of first party exclusives.
  • Ewww I REALLY hope not. I really love Hitman series. I don't want this to end up like FASA Studio, Digital Anvil, Ensemble Studios, Lionhead, Twisted Pixel, Press play...
  • This is definitely great news for the studios and a massive win for gamers.