After reaching an agreement with Square Enix, IO Interactive has announced it is now an independent studio and has retained the rights to the Hitman franchise.
“I am proud to announce today that IOI is now officially an independent studio,” reads the statement. “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.”
Square Enix announced in May via an investors note, stating it had withdrawn from IO Interactive, which is purchased in 2009, on March 31, 2017. This is the last day of the fiscal year in Japan, as the new fiscal year begins on April 1.
A couple of days later, a rumor surfaced stating the Hitman IP would remain with IO. It was also said Season Two of the game was at the halfway point of development and set for release at the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Later that month in its financial briefing, Square said it was negotiating with prospective external investors to ensure the Hitman titles would “carry on.”
Today’s news is indeed a sign of relief for Hitman fans, and great news for IO.
The studio said it would have more details to share on its future plans for Hitman next week.