Bad news if you were a fan of Mass Effect: Andromeda or the new episodic Hitman. The developers behind both games are having a rough time, with lead Andromeda studio BioWare Montreal reportedly being scaled down, the Mass Effect franchise put on hiatus, and Hitman dev IO Interactive being prepared for sale by publisher Square Enix.
Anonymous sources who spoke to Kotaku confirmed that the Mass Effect series has been put on ice, and it's hard not to imagine it was a direct response to Andromeda's cool reception. It'll probably return again someday - there's still a lot of love for Mass Effect out there - but not for the immediate future. Some of the staff at BioWare Montreal have been reassigned to Star Wars Battlefront 2 developer Motive Studios (the two studios share office space) while others remain to support Mass Effect: Andromeda through further updates and multiplayer expansions.
The future is less certain for Hitman. Square Enix announced in a press release dryly titled "Notice of Booking of Extraordinary Loss" that it began procedures to "withdraw from the business" of IO Interactive as of March 31. Square Enix has owned the Danish developer since it purchased IO's parent company Eidos back in 2009. The only explanation offered for the decision in the press release was that Square Enix was focusing its "resources and energies on key franchises and studios", which makes it sound like the episodic Hitman experiment didn't bring in the money that Square Enix was hoping for.
That leaves a lot of questions in the air. The biggest is whether Square Enix would keep the rights to the Hitman franchise or sell them along with IO Interactive. The studio created Hitman way back in 2000 and has been the driving force behind its games ever since. They haven't all been as excellent as the latest Hitman (a smart, endlessly replayable refinement of the series' best ideas) but it would be tragic to see 47 separated from his creators just as things are getting good again.
IO Interactive is keeping its head down for now.
@JamesGHBray @ynakamura56 @dannyodwyer Thanks for tweeting us. There's a lot going on right now and we'll have more to say at a later point. For now, back to making games.May 11, 2017
Feeling a bit glum after all that? Me too. Let's cheer ourselves up with 11 happy games to play when things look bad and by looking forward to all the upcoming games for 2017.