Earlier in the year, it was clear that the fate of IO Interactive (the developers of the Hitman games, Kane & Lynch, Freedom Fighters and Mini Ninjas) was very unclear. Square Enix, their publisher, weren’t happy with the sales of their latest release and were looking to sell them off. Cue a lot of hand-wringing by the public – myself included – and the industry as a whole because this can lead to games companies being dissolved entirely. Was Take-Two going to buy them? THQ Nordic? Microsoft? Sony? Bethesda?
Well those questions and doubts were answered today. According to their website, IO Interactive have gone independent. The CEO of the company penned an open letter and posted it on their website:
We’re very excited to share this message from the Io-Interactive CEO, Hakan Abrak:
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.
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.
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.
This, as you can full well imagine, is a double-edged sword. IO can make whatever they want now without any input from their owners. Hell, they can even publish their own games themselves in theory. The company is beholden to no-one apart from their own CEOs. The bad part? There is no net now. If their games flop, then people lose their jobs and/or the company has to take on contracting work to keep the lights on and people paid. Obsidian, developers of Fallout: New Vegas, and Platinum Games, makers of Bayonetta, are in similar situations. They are mid-tier Indie developers who have learned the hard way the problems with being independent and have to do contract work for MMOs and other games between or during developing games they actually want to make.
I hope IO Interactive’s transition into an indie developer is as painless as possible. The Hitman games are too good to lose.
Source: IO Interactive