Square Enix plans to sell Hitman developer IO Interactive (opens in new tab), but it's trying to make sure the franchise and studio have a future together after the ink is dry. The publisher shared the encouraging news at the tail end of a financial results briefing which you can read online (opens in new tab). Here's the relevant bit.
"Our decision to withdraw from the IO Interactive A/S business was the result of a review of our portfolio that we conducted as part of our effort to concentrate our resources in order to strengthen our development capabilities," the company businessed with great gusto. "Because the firm is engaged in the development of Hitman (opens in new tab) and other renowned titles, we are negotiating with prospective external investors capable of ensuring that these titles carry on."
So, nightmare scenario averted: Square Enix won't hold on to the rights to Hitman and either let it lie fallow (as IO stares sadly through the window) or give it to some other developer who might have no clue what to do with it. That would have been a particular bummer since IO is already likely deep into development on Hitman Season 2, the follow-up to its episodic experiment.
The future of Hitman and IO still hinges on whether Square Enix can find a suitable buyer. The studio has already laid off some of its employees, likely to present as cost-effective of a package as possible to potential new owners. Here's hoping it all works out in the end.
An update from the studio: pic.twitter.com/k0aoms5cOQMay 23, 2017
If you're not sure why I'm so invested in this whole Hitman thing, read about why it was one of the best games of 2016 (opens in new tab). And if you're already on board, check out what IO hopes to do with Hitman Season 2 (opens in new tab).