Square Enix has found a buyer that will take good care of both IO Interactive and its Hitman (opens in new tab) franchise. And that buyer is… IO Interactive. The studio announced in on its official website (opens in new tab) that it has finished negotiations with its former parent company to purchase itself via a management buyout.
IO has been an externally-owned studio since it was first bought by Eidos Interactive in 2004 - right around the time it released Hitman: Contracts, the third game in the series. Square Enix then purchased Eidos in 2009 and IO came along for the ride. Now IO is on its I-own for the first time in more than a decade and it gets to keep control of Hitman, its flagship series.
IO mentioned several of its other projects, like Kane & Lynch and Mini Ninjas, in the announcement post. It didn't say whether it will also retain control of those properties or if they'll remain with Square Enix, but Hitman is really the big win here - especially because the studio appears to already be deep into work on Hitman Season 2 (opens in new tab), the follow-up to its episodic assassination series.
Putting aside how sad it would have been if IO had to say goodbye to its bald assassin son, Hitman Season 1 was really good (opens in new tab) - it would have been a massive bummer if anything got in the way of a second season. Now it's up to IO to keep the ship afloat and make the right deals to get 47's next contract killing spree, er, adventure in front of players worldwide.
Not sure about this whole Hitman thing? Read about how Hitman's common-sense-defying rubber duck challenge (opens in new tab) shows its true depth.