Game maker IO Interactive dumped by Square Enix

Future of hugely successful game series Hitman is in doubt

The Hitman games series from IO Interactive has been hugely successful since its first installment arrived at turn of the millennium, even developing a cult following over the years. Thus there have been more than nine games across various platforms along with two films, Hitman (2007) and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). The most recent episodic format of the game was critically acclaimed with a five-star rating from Expert Reviews, but didn’t sell as well as expected. This has led the company that owns IO Interactive – Square Enix – to shockingly drop the developers. Could this spell the end of the series?

The news came earlier in May that the publishing house which also owns the rights to Tomb Raider and Deus Ex was suddenly dropping IO Interactive and subsequently, the Hitman series. The company stated that if a buyer wasn’t found for the studio, it would simply be shut down. This came as somewhat worrying news for fans of the game and its various offshoots.

IO Interactive hitmanAs it stands, not only can Hitman games be enjoyed on console, there is also a puzzle app for mobile called Hitman Go (see video above), and a Hitman online slot game from Microgaming. The app can be downloaded via the app store while the slot can be played at 32Red, where players will get 80 free spins if they use the Oddschecker casino bonus. The slot has been hailed as one of the best games Microgaming has produced and ranks close to Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway as 32Red’s top game on the roster.

Judging by the popularity and the massive franchise potential of the series, you would expect that plenty of publishing houses are scrambling to buy the rights to IO Interactive. One of the reasons that Square Enix decided to drop the developer was because they want to go in search of blockbuster titles and have an agreement with Marvel in the pipeline. Fans of Tomb Raider and Dues Ex may be starting to worry that these games will go in the same direction. To an up-and-coming investor, though, an already well-established series like Hitman could represent a goldmine.

As it stands, there have been no developments regarding who might try to buy IO Interactive. It shouldn’t yet be cause for concern, however, as the news that Square Enix was dropping the developer only surfaced in early May. No matter what happens, the geniuses behind Hitman should carry on and, with their hardcore fanbase, they should find little trouble in surviving.


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