Any fans of the Hitman series of games will be well aware of the company IO Interactive. The Danish video game developer built its reputation on Hitman games, having released six titles in the series. Along the way, the studio was acquired by Eidos Interactive, which subsequently became part of Square Enix. But it looks as though the game is up for IO as Square is now attempting to sell the studio off.
The announcement was made by Square Enix to coincide with the release of the Japanese company's financial results. The "Notice of Booking of Extraordinary Loss" document explains that Square Enix is "focusing our resources and energies on key franchises and studios." With that being the case, IO Interactive is being withdrawn from and a loss of 4,898 million yen (roughly $42.1 million) noted "including disposition of the content production account related to the business and impairment loss of intangible assets."
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New investors are now being approached with regards to taking on IO Interactive, but there's no guarantee the studio will survive. Although IO is a very experienced team, it seems likely Square Enix will retain the Hitman intellectual property rights once the studio is sold. So any investor would be taking on a team without an established IP, making it a much harder sell.
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It's difficult to understand why Square Enix would choose to take this action for a studio that has regularly delivered high-quality experiences starting with the original Hitman: Codename 47 back in 2000 right up to the last Hitman game in 2016. IO also developed Freedom Fighters, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, and Mini Ninjas. In stark contrast, Square Enix just spent over a decade trying to finish one game in the form of Final Fantasy XV.
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