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Hitman studio face lay-offs, nearly half of the staff lose jobs

Monday, 17th June 2013 19:26 GMT By Debabrata Nath

IO Interactive has announced today that it has laid off nearly half of its current workforce as part of a refocus on the Hitman series.

Speaking to GI.Biz, a Square Enix Europe representative revealed that all other projects by the studio has been canned, and it’ll soon start work on a new Hitman game.

Hannes Siefert, previously production director, will take over as the new studio head as part of this restructuring.

A Square Enix rep has released the following statement in the wake of this news.

“We are making significant changes at IO Interactive as we align our business against a changing and challenging market. Hannes Seifert, formerly Production Director for 3 years at the studio, will take over the position of Studio Head at IO.”

“The studio will focus resolutely on the future vision for the Hitman franchise and is in pre-production on a new AAA Hitman project. However we have taken the difficult decision to cancel other studio projects and initiatives at IO and reduce the workforce in this studio, which will impact almost half of the employees currently at IO, as we make internal adjustments to face the challenges of today’s market.”

“For those affected, we are extremely grateful for the hard work which they have contributed, and where it’s possible and appropriate to relocate staff to open positions at other studios within the group, we will try to do so,” the statement continued. “We are also reaching out to other companies for outplacement opportunities. We sincerely wish them well in their future careers. If you are part of a company that is looking for additional development talent, please contact us directly at info@ioi.dk”

It’s always sad to see talented studios suffer the consequences of today’s competitive market, and VG247 wishes the best for everyone who has been affected.

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32 Comments

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  1. Yoshi

    *facepalm* ‘all other projects by the studio has been canned, and it’ll soon start work on a new Hitman game.’

    We obviously don’t know what those canned projects were but still. I also find it interesting as to why they’re being laid off. The only bad thing about the latest hitman is the fact that the enemies will always know it’s you until you use the special focus skill thing (can’t remember the name of it).

    #1 1 year ago
  2. YoungZer0

    Well, that fucking sucks.

    I remember they were talking about giving the franchise to some Square Enix branche and how they would revolutionise the series and how IoI would focus on other games.

    What happened? I can’t help but think that Square Enix has something to do with this.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. SplatteredHouse

    wow. RIP, K&L. I thought Square Enix Montreal were leading the next Hitman?
    “It’s like with Treyarch and Infinity Ward,” says Absolution director” (to CVG)
    That covers that, then.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Phoenixblight

    “the only bad thing about the latest hitman is the fact that the enemies will always know it’s you until you use the special focus skill thing (can’t remember the name of it).”

    Its not the only thing. The game also uses trigger volumes to initiate patrols on the AI. Which made the stealth element of the game very similar to Uncharted series and other triggered stealth games. Previous versions of Hitman, you had to watch and remember the patrols now you just have to find the trigger volume and know the pat is coming. Square was probably thinking the game would sell an extraordinarily large amount when previous games never did. It was a niche title and what sucks, this newest game was the worst of the lot.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. DSB

    I honestly couldn’t make it through Absolution, what a snorefest.

    I think IO kinda lost the plot when they failed to follow up on Freedom Fighters.

    I liked Mini Ninjas, but it was just extremely repetitive.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. YoungZer0

    @3: Yeah, I think there was talk about a third installment in the K&L franchise. I’m hurt, dawg. I really liked this odd couple. :/

    @5: Mini Ninjas had a lovely art-direction but yes, the gameplay was not as good as it should’ve been.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Citrus raptor

    Well that’s what happens when one continuously develops games that don’t play as their title/IP suggests; one’s fans tire and leave.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. SplatteredHouse

    As soon as I saw the gameplay caveats like that, I basically swore off Absolution. I was prepared to check it out, reasonably excited to see what the full game was about, and up to, but then the cards were set out, and it was clear as day they had been concealing a bad hand.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. tezzer1985

    @2 yeah your right, they announced that a new Hitman game was being made in Canada, and that IO was making a new IP, while still having creative input.

    The strange thing is, they announced it before Hitman was released last November.

    Publishers are so out of touch with their audiences, it’s a joke, I assume we would have all liked a new IP from IO, rather then another Hitman, so soon

    #9 1 year ago
  10. wowtgp

    It’s THQ all over again.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Coheno

    Man that sucks, but swedish studios are doing well, and probably hiring. And to be honest, the K&L games sucked, and should never have been made. This probably also means, no K&L movie.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. Coheno

    It’s also sad, since Hitman sold pretty well…just not by SE’s standards apparently.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Max Payne

    @12 Exactly.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Edo

    Well shit….

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Francis O

    Square, enough of this western BS. PLEASE go back to making badass JRPGs like Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore…… please.

    All of your western games bombed and or didn’t meet sales forecasts.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. YoungZer0

    Are you serious? If any games bombed it’s those JRPG’s you’re talking about. I thought they weren’t fooling anyone with their blame game.

    Appearently I was wrong.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Attracting people with your infamous generalisations, perfect :P :D :)

    #17 1 year ago
  18. nollie4545

    IO lost the plot with Blood money and Absolution is just plain awful. Kane and Lynch was a one trick pony. They took perfectly good IP and screwed them down the river.

    How the hell THQ went bang I have no clue.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Stardog

    Ruin a great series and lose your job. Hopefully that’s a message all dev’s can take on board. Don’t make games for casuals while alienating all your original fans.

    I waited until this was £5 before I bought it. If it was an extension of the originals and not some butchered version, I would’ve paid £35.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Francis O

    Legendaryboss,

    - Square Enix admitted themselves their Western games bombed.
    http://www.vg247.com/2013/04/09/square-enix-blames-huge-slump-in-us-sales-for-western-title-failures/

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Francis O

    @ Young Zero

    Final Fantasy 13 sucks but it outsold Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, and Hitman.

    Even Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, a game that uses a fraction of the budget of Hitman, sold almost as much.

    Square should do what they do best. JRPGs

    #21 1 year ago
  22. Gheritt White

    @21: Eidos != Square / Square != Eidos. Your argument could not be any more invalid. It would be like demanding BioWare make Road Rash just because they’re owned by EA.

    Grow. The fuck. Up.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Sigh… having high expectations for titles and being let down when you do not exceed those goals does not equal bombed it equals unrealistic expectations. Failed and Bombed are two different words. Failed is when you failed in achieving someone and bombed are games of very high quality barely breaking a million.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. Francis O

    @22 what?

    @23 Legendary

    Getting into semantics here aren’t we?

    Either way, the games failed in Square Enix’s eyes.

    You really think Square Enix, who spent million upon millions of dollars on Tomb Raider only expected to sell around 3 million or so copies of a game, when the install base is over 140 million when you combine the PS3 and Xbox 360.
    http://www.vgchartz.com/gamedb/?name=Tomb+Raider

    And that doesn’t even count PC. I’m sure Square sees that as a bomb/and or failure.

    If 500k is bad for ZombiU with a install base of 3.5 million, how is 3 million not horrible for a install base of 140 million plus PC/Steam users?

    #24 1 year ago
  25. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Install base does not matter, do you think Rockstar expected to sell less than 1.5 million on DS 150+ Million base with GTA Chinatown Wars, their biggest brand:
    http://www.vgchartz.com/game/24661/grand-theft-auto-chinatown-wars/

    Its all down to what the audience wants on those particular platforms wants oh i nice to see you using the so called “reliable source” to proof a point, when it so coincidentally suits you.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. YoungZer0

    @21: Of course it outsold those games. It’s one of the oldest videogame franchise. At one point it was supposed to be THE Systemseller, remember?

    It sold more than 5 million units. Hitman Absolution sold 3.6 million and Tomb Raider sold more than 3.4 million copies. Tomb Raider sold over 1 million copies in under 2 days.

    I’d like to add that those sequels outsold Final Fantasy XIII-2. It only sold 3.0 million copies, yet for some reason Square Enix doesn’t seem to think that this is a failure and is okay with doing another sequel.

    Strange.

    Kingdom Hearts: Another Useless Not-Sequel sold 1.2 million copies. So, no not as much as Hitman Absolution. Also it had a lower price tag, which does need to be considered. Also you don’t know how much it cost to develop Hitman Absolution.

    Square Enix needs to be honest about the many mistakes it made at its Japan HQ. Remember when Versus was supposed to be released? Why did they need so much time? Why did it went dark for so long? Who asked for a sequel for FFXIII? Why are they releasing crappy, useless DS/3DS Kingdom Hearts titles instead of making a proper from the start? Why invest so much time and money in crappy tablet games?

    In conclusion: The facts are not on your side.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. Francis O

    Young Zero
    I know it costs less to develop a 3DS game over a HD Hitman game with online multiplayer.

    Legendaryboss

    The DS didn’t have the install base you’re claiming it had when GTA ChinaTown Wars came out. :) It was far less than 150 million.

    And I don’t see how they could expect anything more? They didn’t put a lot of money into that game. It’s for the DS.

    Tomb Raider on the other hand had a budget that swallows a DS game, and the 360 version still sold about the same as GTA China Town Wars on the DS.

    I’ll be the first to admit VGC is not reliable, but it lines up with Square’s numbers from their financial meetings so I used it.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Fine but DS has always had higher sales than the PSP, so my point still stands and you have no idea what Rockstar thinks or how much they spend on games, unless publicly stated.

    #28 1 year ago
  29. Francis O

    @Legendary

    You’re point doesn’t stand when you incorrectly quoted recent numbers from a game that came out in 2009. (which I think you did on purpose, nobody is that stupid to do that)

    My point stands. Tomb Raider is a bomb/disappointment for Square Enix. 140 million + PC users, huge marketing and budget….and you only sell 3 million units?

    Not very good. FF 13 comes out in 2010 with far less install base and sells over 6 million. Chrono Trigger on the DS sells as much as the Tomb Raider on the 360 and Hitman Absolution on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

    Come on, we all know Square needs to drop this Western game BS. You can’t sell those games in Japan, where as JRPGs sell everywhere.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. Gheritt White

    Francis, you’re talking like Japanese devs made those games, or had Japanese Producers attached, or were handled by Japanese PR/Marketing/Sales teams.

    None of this is true – all those games were handled squarely (geddit?) by Eidos people. The fact that Square bought out Eidos and shelved that old brand doesn’t change anything.

    So it makes no sense to ask the people who made those games to return to their roots, as the people actually involved are just doing what they’ve always done – making Western games. They’re a Western division through and through, from their history through to their mentality and above all their staff and professional heritage. They’re Square in name only, literally.

    To put myself in your shoes, I think what you’re *meant* to be asking is whether Square should close down or sell off the whole of Eidos, but that’s hardly a wise strategy to recoup the money they purchased them for or have invested in them, is it? I mean, it comprises five different studios (I think, could be wrong). That’s a lot of people and, one presumes, a lot of talent.

    Or are you suggesting Eidos make J-RPGs now? Actually, thinking about it, Fear Effect could be a good candidate…

    #30 1 year ago
  31. Francis O

    No I’m not suggesting Eidos make a JRPG’s.

    I’m suggesting Square should stop bleeding money into western franchises like Hitman and Tomb Raider that top out around 3 million units. And get back to making awesome RPGs that have the potential to sell a lot more than hitman.

    Sell the Eidos Brand games, and hire better teams to work on the Chrono Trigger, Man, and and Evermore games.

    #31 1 year ago
  32. Phoenixblight

    @31

    Hahah You actually think they will develop those games. Square bought Eidos because they notice their games are becoming less relevant in the West. All their JRPGs do well on their homeland but it comes to the West it hits a wall fast. Square just has to start looking at better ways to manage their western studios. THey have to learn to be lean and mobile(not cell phones) They have yet to learn that, just look what they did with FFXIV. Game was unsuccessful at launch so what do they do? Reboot it and try to remake it within another 3 years. Square hasn’t learned a damn thing and if they don’t get their shit together they will be staying in Japan.

    #32 1 year ago