It’s been a crazy month for Danish studio Io-Interactive and fans of its long-running Hitman series. After the announcement that publisher Square Enix was dumping Io-Interactive, the creators of beloved baldy Agent 47 experienced layoffs and uncertainty about its future and the future of its key franchise. But now there’s some good news.
Io Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak announced on the Io-Interactive blog that not only is Io now a fully independent studio but that it’s also retaining the Hitman IP.
Here is the full announcement from Io-Interactive’s blog:
In its 19 years of history, Io-Interactive has brought you original and exciting entertainment; from Mini Ninjas and Freedom Fighters to gaming’s most notorious criminals Kane & Lynch and of course our beloved Agent 47. With our latest game, we have not only transformed Hitman, but also moved our entire studio into the AAA digital era. Our live product has disrupted the video game business and has received recognition and praise from press, community and our fans.
There are many tales of hope, dreams, hardship and joy within these walls. We have never strived for the expected or predictable. Instead, we are always in pursuit for what feels original and real. Our passion and determination has never been greater and so that is why we have decided it is not the time to stop as we have many more exciting and original tales to tell.
Therefore 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.
I would like to say a big and sincere thank you to all of our players, community, friends in the media and everyone else connected to the studio for the messages of support that we have received in the last few weeks. I would also like to thank Square Enix; it has been a great family to be a part of and we are proud of what we have achieved together in the last eight years. IOI started as an independent studio and we will now return to those roots with an extremely passionate and talented team.
We are counting on the continued support of all our players; simply by having fun with everything we’ve released so far for Hitman—and we want to encourage more of you to try our game. We have more details to come on our plans for that next week.
It isn’t clear if that “Io-Independent” sign-off is a cheeky celebration or an actual change in the company’s name, but either way we’re excited to hear more about the future of Hitman, now that we know it’s in good hands.
So what’s next for Io-Interactive? A recent report suggested that Io was already hard at work on the follow-up season to the previous, excellent Hitman. There were also reports that Io is working on an entirely new IP, but that was before this whole Square Enix saga.
If we had a vote, we’d love to see a sequel to 2003’s Freedom Fighters. Now seems as good a time as any to bring back a series about fighting off a Russian invasion of the United States.