Square Enix is Looking to Sell Off Hitman Developer IO Interactive

Square Enix is Looking to Sell Off Hitman Developer IO Interactive

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Square Enix is looking for a buyer for IO Interactive, the studio behind the Hitman series.

It sounds like Bioware Montreal isn't the only developer experiencing an upheaval right now, as Square Enix is in search of a buyer for Hitman developer IO Interactive. The news came to light as Square Enix sent out a note to investors announcing that it was booking a $42.4 million "extraordinary loss" in its financial results for the recently ended fiscal year. The cause of that loss? The sale of IO.

The notice reads, "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, the Company 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."

Square also wrote that it had "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." That makes it sound like the studio could be shut down if no buyer is found.

There's no word on what effect this might have on future content for Hitman, but that $33 million loss could be planned income from that content. Without a buyer, that content may never see the light of day.

IO Interactive apparently has some things to say, but is keeping them quiet for now. Here's what they said on Twitter earlier today.

Square Enix has had some interesting times of late. Earlier this year, the Deus Ex series was reportedly put on hold after sales of Mankind Divided fell short of targets, and back in 2013, Tomb Raider managed to fall short of company targets despite selling 3.4 million copies and enjoying the best launch in franchise history.

The company appears to be planning to narrow it focus, and it has a new Tomb Raider game in the works, as well as its recently announced multi-game partnership with Marvel.

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This is fucking bullshit. Is Square planning to kill a franchise every year now?

While I'm sure this is a tumultuous time for IO, I say GOOD. Get as many quality developers and franchises away from Square as quickly as possible. Hopefully IO comes out of this on the other side largely intact. I haven't played the new Hitman but I've heard some great things. I only barely dipped my toes into Mankind Divided so far but I've also read largely positive things about that game. These are quality developers getting steamrolled by an ineffectual publisher and I wish them all the best going forward.

Classy, squeenix. Meddle with the business models of beloved IPs, then when customers and fans vote with their wallet that it's not cool to do that, you foist the responsibility onto the developers who did all the hard work instead. Hopefully they'll find a better alternative out of this.

So are they selling the Hitman IP or just the Developer that created it? Because corporations have a history of making sure no one can make money off of IPs they legally own (but didn't create) if they can't.

Shit happens.

The Episodic Hitman game was a weird choice. The game design benefited from it, but the sales clearly took a hit. Tbh, if IO had more than one franchise worth talking about, they likely wouldn't be in this position. But Kane and Lynch was ass 2 times in a row.

Anyone got Bethesda's number?

Saelune:
Anyone got Bethesda's number?

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

AzrealMaximillion:
Shit happens.

The Episodic Hitman game was a weird choice. The game design benefited from it, but the sales clearly took a hit. Tbh, if IO had more than one franchise worth talking about, they likely wouldn't be in this position. But Kane and Lynch was ass 2 times in a row.

The first K&L was actually pretty good if you played it co-op, there's a lot of moments where Players 1/2 get to experience different stuff happening, and some clever stuff with Lynch's hallucinations you'd otherwise miss out on playing it solo.

Shame the sequel was such a pile of garboni .-.

Xorph:

Saelune:
Anyone got Bethesda's number?

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

I dont. I want Bethesda to buy IO and let IO make Hitman. Bethesda as a publisher seems to be pretty hands off with their developers.

Saelune:

Xorph:

Saelune:
Anyone got Bethesda's number?

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

I dont. I want Bethesda to buy IO and let IO make Hitman. Bethesda as a publisher seems to be pretty hands off with their developers.

Actually, the best publisher by far for that right now would be Devolver Digital.

Arnoxthe1:

Saelune:

Xorph:

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

I dont. I want Bethesda to buy IO and let IO make Hitman. Bethesda as a publisher seems to be pretty hands off with their developers.

Actually, the best publisher by far for that right now would be Devolver Digital.

I hope Bethesda buys them too...and rescues Duke Nukem from Gearbox...and makes (well, lets Flying Wild Hog) a game where Lo Wang and Duke team up against something.

Saelune:

Xorph:

Saelune:
Anyone got Bethesda's number?

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

I dont. I want Bethesda to buy IO and let IO make Hitman. Bethesda as a publisher seems to be pretty hands off with their developers.

You'd be surprised how low Bethesda can sink if you read about Prey 2's development, and Fallout New Vegas'.

Pretty sure Squeenix is still feeling the huge financial hole that development of the last two Final Fantasies has created for them.

Poetic Nova:

Saelune:

Xorph:

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

I dont. I want Bethesda to buy IO and let IO make Hitman. Bethesda as a publisher seems to be pretty hands off with their developers.

You'd be surprised how low Bethesda can sink if you read about Prey 2's development, and Fallout New Vegas'.

Interplay dropped the ball, not Bethesda.

And as much as I loved 3D Realms, they too messed their own selves up.

Bethesda does more to pick up the pieces than anything.

Saelune:
nterplay dropped the ball, not Bethesda.

I'll give the heavy condensed stories on those 2 games, as to avoid too much derailment:

Prey 2: Human Head Studios didn't want to be bought out by Beth/Zeni, result: Game got canceld while nearly done, HHS close to bankrupt.

FNV: Small development cycle so it couldnt overshadow Skyrim (18 months). Obsidian forced to release a obvious beta. Review scores werent high enough due to that, Obsidian missed out on a payment bonus.

Saelune:

Arnoxthe1:

Saelune:
I dont. I want Bethesda to buy IO and let IO make Hitman. Bethesda as a publisher seems to be pretty hands off with their developers.

Actually, the best publisher by far for that right now would be Devolver Digital.

I hope Bethesda buys them too...and rescues Duke Nukem from Gearbox...and makes (well, lets Flying Wild Hog) a game where Lo Wang and Duke team up against something.

Why would you want Bethesda to buy out Devolver Digital? What possible benefit could that give?

TrulyBritish:

Saelune:

Arnoxthe1:

Actually, the best publisher by far for that right now would be Devolver Digital.

I hope Bethesda buys them too...and rescues Duke Nukem from Gearbox...and makes (well, lets Flying Wild Hog) a game where Lo Wang and Duke team up against something.

Why would you want Bethesda to buy out Devolver Digital? What possible benefit could that give?

Well, they already got id, and Shadow Warrior (and Duke Nukem) are "relatives" of DOOM. I just want to bring the family back together.

Though I will be fine if Devolver or Wild Flying Hog could acquire Duke from Gearbox.

I think there is a joke to be made about them failing as publishers and not trusting western developers even though they produce quality games, instead choosing to focus on money sinkholes of their previous franchises, like spending over 10 years to make the next Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, but I can't think of something witty to say, so I am just going to left it as a statement.

I'm not really worried, since it's Squeenix they're splitting paths with. As long as IO will find a publisher it should be fine.

{Just no one tell EA, they're free)

Well one problem with episodic games the creator could always pull the plug early and Square-Enix is not a company that I would trust finishing it. So I never bought the game, although I am a huge fan of the Hitman games I was weary they would just give up halfway throught it. Glad, they finished it, but I would never by episodic games unless that company had at least proven they would get the game done. Square-Enix was not in the best position that extruded confidence from me and I guess other fans.

Now watch EA gets summoned,decides to buy it only to make it a MMO and with a paywall and micro-transactions.

Saelune:

TrulyBritish:

Saelune:
I hope Bethesda buys them too...and rescues Duke Nukem from Gearbox...and makes (well, lets Flying Wild Hog) a game where Lo Wang and Duke team up against something.

Why would you want Bethesda to buy out Devolver Digital? What possible benefit could that give?

Well, they already got id, and Shadow Warrior (and Duke Nukem) are "relatives" of DOOM. I just want to bring the family back together.

Though I will be fine if Devolver or Wild Flying Hog could acquire Duke from Gearbox.

A publisher acquiring an indie publisher that doesn't actually own any of the IPs/Developers it publishes would be completely pointless.
Aside from that, spending whatever multi-million sum Gearbox would want for Duke would also be a pretty silly move, considering they could just negotiate for a license of the IP for a game or two and have just as much creative freedom at far less of a cost.

#FreeTHIEF

Come on Squenix, just do it

The Real Sandman:
#FreeTHIEF

Come on Squenix, just do it

http://au.ign.com/articles/2017/05/11/fifth-thief-game-reportedly-in-the-works-to-coincide-with-film-adaptation

Ain't happening.

Also, curious, does IO get to keep the IP, or does Square?

Hawki:

The Real Sandman:
#FreeTHIEF

Come on Squenix, just do it

http://au.ign.com/articles/2017/05/11/fifth-thief-game-reportedly-in-the-works-to-coincide-with-film-adaptation

Ain't happening.

Also, curious, does IO get to keep the IP, or does Square?

It's very likely that Squeenix owns it, devs working on AAA games under AAA publishers -rarely- own the IPs they're working on.

Hawki:

The Real Sandman:
#FreeTHIEF

Come on Squenix, just do it

http://au.ign.com/articles/2017/05/11/fifth-thief-game-reportedly-in-the-works-to-coincide-with-film-adaptation

Ain't happening.

Unless if Sqeenix can pull a billion dollar rabbit out of its ass with those ventures, I doubt they'll want to keep the IP for long. The only reason for Sqeenix to keep the Thief license is as a placeholder for other more bankable IPs.

Given the publisher's current track record of overblown budgets and internal conflicts up the wazoo, it is only inevitable that at some point Sqeenix will have to remove some dead weight. I'd love to be proven wrong, but as it stands Thief has no future with them.

AzrealMaximillion:
Shit happens.

The Episodic Hitman game was a weird choice. The game design benefited from it, but the sales clearly took a hit. Tbh, if IO had more than one franchise worth talking about, they likely wouldn't be in this position. But Kane and Lynch was ass 2 times in a row.

I don't think the game design really benefited from it, to me it was painfully obvious that I/O did not originally plan for it to be episodic.

RobertEHouse:
Well one problem with episodic games the creator could always pull the plug early and Square-Enix is not a company that I would trust finishing it. So I never bought the game, although I am a huge fan of the Hitman games I was weary they would just give up halfway throught it. Glad, they finished it, but I would never by episodic games unless that company had at least proven they would get the game done. Square-Enix was not in the best position that extruded confidence from me and I guess other fans.

Now watch EA gets summoned,decides to buy it only to make it a MMO and with a paywall and micro-transactions.

I waited until the physical release this year before buying it, as I see no point in paying for an unfinished product.

Xorph:

Saelune:
Anyone got Bethesda's number?

WhyintheworldwouldyouwantBethesdatomakeaHitmangamethough

AzrealMaximillion:
Shit happens.

The Episodic Hitman game was a weird choice. The game design benefited from it, but the sales clearly took a hit. Tbh, if IO had more than one franchise worth talking about, they likely wouldn't be in this position. But Kane and Lynch was ass 2 times in a row.

The first K&L was actually pretty good if you played it co-op, there's a lot of moments where Players 1/2 get to experience different stuff happening, and some clever stuff with Lynch's hallucinations you'd otherwise miss out on playing it solo.

Shame the sequel was such a pile of garboni .-.

I thought the K&L sequel was OK, the problem was Square Enix put far too much focus on a multiplayer mode which frankly nobody was really asking for, and as such the campaign wasn't nearly as good as it could've been thanks to all the resources wasted on a multiplayer mode that practically nobody played.

The Real Sandman:

Hawki:

The Real Sandman:
#FreeTHIEF

Come on Squenix, just do it

http://au.ign.com/articles/2017/05/11/fifth-thief-game-reportedly-in-the-works-to-coincide-with-film-adaptation

Ain't happening.

Unless if Sqeenix can pull a billion dollar rabbit out of its ass with those ventures, I doubt they'll want to keep the IP for long. The only reason for Sqeenix to keep the Thief license is as a placeholder for other more bankable IPs.

Given the publisher's current track record of overblown budgets and internal conflicts up the wazoo, it is only inevitable that at some point Sqeenix will have to remove some dead weight. I'd love to be proven wrong, but as it stands Thief has no future with them.

Sounds similar to what happened with Prince of Persia, after the failure of the 2008 reboot, Ubisoft trotted the IP out one last time for a tie-in game to the 2011 film adaption and we have not a heard thing from the franchise since.

darkrage6:

AzrealMaximillion:
Shit happens.

The Episodic Hitman game was a weird choice. The game design benefited from it, but the sales clearly took a hit. Tbh, if IO had more than one franchise worth talking about, they likely wouldn't be in this position. But Kane and Lynch was ass 2 times in a row.

I don't think the game design really benefited from it, to me it was painfully obvious that I/O did not originally plan for it to be episodic.

I think that the episodic design did force IO to improve on the level design. Especially when it follows Absolution. Absolution is like the FF13 of the Hitman franchise. Linear as hell. And with a good chunk of the targets getting killed in cutscenes it removed a large chunk of player agency. Disguises were nearly useless when seen by people in the same uniform. You couldn't even close doors.

The levels are bigger and designed with more care, like the first 3 Hitman games. Blood Money gave you more ways to kill your target, but the level design wasn't as well thought out. They were more open levels, but not better designed levels. I think Hitman 2016's levels are done well because they had to make sure you could play the same level a bunch of times.

AzrealMaximillion:

darkrage6:

AzrealMaximillion:
Shit happens.

The Episodic Hitman game was a weird choice. The game design benefited from it, but the sales clearly took a hit. Tbh, if IO had more than one franchise worth talking about, they likely wouldn't be in this position. But Kane and Lynch was ass 2 times in a row.

I don't think the game design really benefited from it, to me it was painfully obvious that I/O did not originally plan for it to be episodic.

I think that the episodic design did force IO to improve on the level design. Especially when it follows Absolution. Absolution is like the FF13 of the Hitman franchise. Linear as hell. And with a good chunk of the targets getting killed in cutscenes it removed a large chunk of player agency. Disguises were nearly useless when seen by people in the same uniform. You couldn't even close doors.

The levels are bigger and designed with more care, like the first 3 Hitman games. Blood Money gave you more ways to kill your target, but the level design wasn't as well thought out. They were more open levels, but not better designed levels. I think Hitman 2016's levels are done well because they had to make sure you could play the same level a bunch of times.

Some of the level designs were good, others were pretty meh, I don't think being episodic "forced" them to get better, I think if I/O were given more freedom the levels would've been even better.

 

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