Square Enix To Part Ways With IO Interactive; Hitman Series Placed On Ice

Agent 47 may be waiting a long time for his next mission.

Japanese publisher Square Enix has announced plans to withdraw investment from Hitman developer IO Interactive, bracing for an “extraordinary” $43 million loss in the process. In light of that financial report, an official statement from Square – as relayed by Gematsu – reveals that the industry giant now plans to rein in the focus to double down on established franchises (Tomb Raider, for instance) and their respective studios for the foreseeable future.

Offloading IO Interactive not only puts Hitman on an indefinite hiatus, but it also means that any plans for future episodes/missions have likely been scrapped altogether. It’s not all doom and gloom, though; Square concludes its statement on a positive note, revealing that it’s already in the process of courting investors about the possibility of purchasing IO Interactive outright.

Per Square Enix:

To maximize player satisfaction as well as market potential going forward, we are focusing our resources and energies on key franchises and studios. As a result, [Square Enix] has regrettably decided to withdraw from the business of IO Interactive A/S, a wholly‐owned subsidiary and a Danish corporation, as of March 31, 2017.

This decision has resulted in booking of the extraordinary loss amounting to 4,898 million yen, including disposition of the content production account related to the business and impairment loss of intangible assets, in the financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017.

As a result of this [Square Enix] started discussions with potential new investors and is currently in negotiations to secure this investment. Whilst there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully, they are being explored since this is in the best interests of our shareholders, the studio and the industry as a whole.

Placing IO Interactive up for sale lends the Hitman studio a lifeline, but it’s unclear how Square’s decision will affect personnel – if at all. In the end, it’s a disappointing blow to IO Interactive, particularly when you factor in the overly positive reaction to its recent Hitman reboot. An episodic rollout, coupled with the game’s proximity to other AAA titles, ultimately clipped the wings of the title though, and at least for the time being, Agent 47 has quietly retreated back into the shadows.

We’ll be bringing you all the latest as this story unfolds, but IO Interactive is by no means the only studio to be affected by weak sales; BioWare Montreal has reportedly been downscaled in light of Mass Effect Andromeda and its lukewarm reception. Our best goes out to those affected.