Game studios tend to come and go as far as being acquired by other companies or sold to others, yet one of the more prolific studio change ups was Hitman developer IO Interactive going independent from publisher Square Enix earlier this year. Now, Square Enix has given a bit more detail into the studio’s buyout and its retention of its signature IP.
Speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Square Enix CEO and president Yosuke Matsuda provided a bit more context into the business end of Square Enix’s original plan to sell IO Interactive earlier this year, which instead ended up with buyout for IO to go independent.
On selling IO Interactive, Matsuda explained that “I always have to look at things from the perspective of what it costs to develop it and the performance it delivers,” adding that “in the case of Hitman, we had several expectations where that balance was not sufficiently achieved.”
As a larger studio balancing multiple projects (especially between its Western and Japanese divisions), Matsuda expressed that the company could not “continue sufficiently investing in Hitman” as it “could wind up ruining the game.” Matsuda also added that the company did want to continue working with IO in developing the game (and series) further, but ultimately stated that “it would be best if they worked with another partner other than ourselves.”
However, with the deal turning from a sale into a full buyout for IO to become independent, Matsuda expressed that he and Square Enix were “very proactively supportive” of the studio’s decision.
Matsuda also provided more context into why Square Enix let the studio keep the Hitman IP, which he stated simply that “I believe it wouldn’t be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by IO.” Specifically, Matsuda expressed that given the series’ fervent fanbase and support for the studio, he stated that that led to the company letting IO keep the IP and continue to develop it on its own, as it truly belonged in their hands.
The latest iteration of Hitman, which was IO’s episodic take on the series, first debuted early last year in several installments, with the full “season” of the game released earlier this year.