The developer behind the Hitman franchise has had some ups and downs over the past couple of years. But now, It seems as if IO Interactive’s newfound independence has benefited the company, and that it is expanding.
IO Interactive has produced Hitman titles consistently since the late 90s. In 2016, it rebooted the franchise with a new episodic structure that, while risky, paid off in that the critical success refreshed the series in the minds of gamers. The sequel to 2016’s Hitman ditched the episodic release schedule, but kept the structure, which allows diligent players to meticulously pick apart each level in order to unlock every possible solution.
Now, it sounds like fans can expect more from the series. The YouTube channel NoClip released a documentary yesterday which explores the turbulent history of IO and its Hitman franchise. The end of the video reveals that IO has opened a second studio dedicated to the continued evolution Hitman, including work on a new game in the series.
According to the documentary, the new studio, which opened this year, is located in Malmo, Sweden. It will continue to grow the Hitman franchise while the original IO in Copenhagen begins looking into the development of a new IP. This will be the studio’s first new non-Hitman game since last generation’s Kane & Lynch series.
IO began as independent studio before their acquisition by Eidos in in 2004. A few years later, Eidos folded into Square Enix, which continued supporting IO for a number of years. Then, in 2017, after the 2016 Hitman reboot’s critical success didn’t turn into the financial success Square Enix hoped it would, Square decided to sell the studio. This put the studio and the Hitman franchise in jeopardy.
The documentary explores this troubling period for IO and includes interviews with many of the developers at the company who share the emotional experience of dealing with the uncertainty. In the end, IO went independent, and miraculously retained the rights to the Hitman franchise. It struck a deal with Warner Bros. who helped publish Hitman 2.
The film also notes that IOI treats its developers very well. Employees often arrive at work around 10AM and leave around 5PM. The studio also takes chances on young talent and gives them the room to grow.
The news that IO has been able to rise from the ashes should excite fans of the series and anyone who enjoys seeing innovation in the industry. The Hitman reboot has been celebrated for its unique and inventive contribution game design. It gives the players access to a meticulously constructed sandbox and then guides them just gently enough to allow them to pick the world apart on their own.
Hitman 2 is out now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.