Square Enix severs ties with Hitman, announcing plans to sell its developer

Leading video game publisher, Square Enix, has announced its plans to sell creator and developer of the Hitman series, IO Interactive. Announced as a part of the company's financial results, this puts the future of both the studio and series in jeopardy.

Initially revealed to investors after booking an "extraordinary loss" of 4,898 million yen (approximately 42.8 million USD) last financial year, Square Enix attributed this loss to parting ways with the developer.

To maximize 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. This decision has resulted in booking of the extraordinary loss amounting to 4,898 million yen, including disposition of the content production account related to the business and impairment loss of intangible assets, in the financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise, following the recent successes made in the Hitman franchise. Last year's move to an episodic model made for one of the best Hitman games to date, with a strong flow of content and limited time events in the months that followed. IO Interactive has even confirmed a follow-up is currently in the pipeline, in response to the positive reception of the first season of Hitman content.

For now, the future of the Hitman series is somewhat undecided. Square Enix first jumped onto the Hitman series in 2009, following the takeover of series' previous publisher, Eidos Interactive. The publisher has announced it's currently seeking companies willing to invest in the franchise going forward but has no announcements to make at this time. We'll make sure to update this article if the story progresses in the coming days.

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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.

  • Microsoft needs to buy this.
  • That would be pretty awesome if they got the various IP of the games built by IO Interactive and release reboots of them. I thought the last Hitman was really good personally. Didn't they create Kane and Lynch too?
  • Yes, they are
  • Microsoft should buy it. Hitman as a Play Anywhere title would be sweet.
  • if ms buys it theyll make it a multiplayer game as a service. I'm sure fans would love that
  • This is a massive shame, considering how good the last Hitman game was.
  • I've enjoyed all the hitman games that I have played, so I really hope this gets picked up by someone else.
  • Yeah MS should buy the studio. Make Hitman great again. To be honest Japanese game companies are useless. Final Fantasy is a westernised mess of a game now. And well I haven't played a decent Japanese game since Lost Odyssey. All their games now are just westernised action games. But then the action is usually poorly done. And the open world crap is boring as hell. So its probably a good thing its coming out from under a Japanese company.
  • I don't know where your Japanese rant came from, modern Square Enix is essentially Eidos, which was British.
    And a game studio being taken over by Microsoft is bad news by definition. Just ask Ensemble Studios, Lionhead, Rare or Press Play.
  • I thought MS is pretty kind to the devs? Freedom and all, only thing not flexible is deadline.
  • I love the fact that for you Japanese games are only RPG's.
  • Why Microsoft should buy it?
  •   Square Enix do not touch the Tomb Raider franchise , Let it be :(
  • This went downhill after Hitman 2.
  • Yes, Microsoft should buy it because they have such a stellar track-record with such acquisitions! *sarcasm* In all seriousness, Microsoft would be the last company I'd like to see buying IO! I've been playing the Hitman games since the first game launched all those years ago, so I hope someone who doesn't want to destroy the company & franchise buys them.
  • I'm sure we will have more Hitman games
  • MS, buy the rights to this game and/or the studio and then be completely hands-off! Hell pick up Mass Effect and do the same thing. Please and Thank Yo from a fan who spends money.
  • Just a guess, but maybe io interactive didn't want to contribute to the Marvel franchise. Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics are currently working on Marvel games, no Tomb Raider and no Deus Ex. Maybe io didn't want to give up their Hitman franchise?!?
  • Someones working on a tomb raider there were leaks of promotional material for something called shadow of the tomb raider. Also square is to big for a japanese publisher this is them realising that and trying to scale back some.
  • http://www.vgchartz.com/gamedb/?name=hitman+29&publisher=&platfo... wow... look at the sales...
  • Microsoft needs more exclusives under their belt.
  • I am fine with Microsoft picking up this company if they get the IP's that come with the company otherwise it's kind of pointless to just add cost without adding any kind of assets besides people they can just hire them
  • Come on MS step up!