Square Enix Explains Why It Sold Hitman’s Franchise Rights Back To Io Interactive

One of this year’s most interesting stories was when Square Enix opted out of continuing to [...]


One of this year's most interesting stories was when Square Enix opted out of continuing to publish games in the Hitman franchise, instead selling off the series' developer, Io Interactive, as well as selling its rights back to them.

Many people believed there was a fair amount of bitterness regarding "getting rid of" the developer and its franchise, but Square Enix president and CEO Yosuke Matsuda recently spoke up, talking with GamesIndustry International to explain why the company sold the rights of the series back to its developer – and it's a surprisingly logical answer.

He felt that trying to find a deal with a different developer or publisher was the franchise wouldn't make it the same, "because I believe it wouldn't be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by Io," he explained. "I love the game, and I believe the fans of Hitman think it's only Hitman if it's made by Io. So I thought that was the best way for the game to continue, and that's why we were supportive of the (management buyout) and of course they didn't mind if they continued to use the IP."

The main reason for the sale, to begin with, was mainly with the development costs of Hitman, something the company learned from the episodic first season of the latest release. Those under-performing sales pretty much sealed the deal, and forced Square Enix to break away.

"Whether it's our Western studios or Japanese studios, at Square Enix we sometimes end up with conflicts or shortages in terms of resources," said Matsuda. "I felt that if we were not able to continue sufficiently investing in Hitman, it could wind up ruining the game – so we found ourselves in a difficult position."

Square Enix currently has focus on much bigger AAA projects, including its Marvel's Avengers games, as well as big plans for Final Fantasy in 2018 – and we shouldn't forget about Kingdom Hearts III, either.

Whatever the case, Io Interactive is continuing work on the Hitman franchise, and is already looking into the next season for Agent 47.

You can check out Hitman: The Complete First Season now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.