One of the most shocking news stories of the year was when Square Enix announced that they were parting ways with Hitman developer IO Interactive. Even more surprising than the split, was that GameIndustry.bizIO was going to retain its intellectual property. To learn why this was, spoke to Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda.
“Although Hitman was very well received, when we thought about having to invest in the second and third seasons and we considered the scale of investment required to do that, and we also had to consider any conflicts with resources allocated to other titles, we decided it would be quite challenging,” explained Matsuda. “It’s for that reason we decided a [management buyout] or another partner would be the best way to continue it.”
“That allows [IO Interactive] to decide the future of Hitman based on their own free will,” says Matsuda. “For that reason, we were very proactively supportive of the MBO.” He went on to compliment the talented studio saying that “I believe it wouldn’t be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by IO. 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 MBO and of course didn’t mind if they continued to use the IP.”
GameIndustry.biz has so much more insight from Matsuda on the deal in their full piece, and he talks about how difficult of a decision it was for the company. It’s a great article, and highly recommended reading if you’re interested in learning what goes into making these calls. It’s a great reminder that gaming is a business.