During the most recent SquareEnix financial earnings release (PDF) they announced that they would withdraw from IO Interactive, who makes the Hitman series of video games. Their most recent release, Hitman 2016, is one of our major benchmarks because it was one of the first titles to rework its engines for DirectX 12 (and it’s also a very pretty game). The previous game, Hitman: Absolution, was also featured on one of our live streams because it was an AMD Gaming Evolved / Never Settle title.
IO Interactive has followed-up with their own announcement. As of last Friday, they are now an independent studio, and they were able to negotiate both their management and the Hitman IP. “We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.” In other words, they don’t seem to have any publisher lined up, but the Hitman franchise should be enticing for many AAA-level companies.
Just a couple weeks earlier, IO Interactive also announced that new purchases of Hitman would automatically buy all episodes from the first season. Steam will, however, detect existing episodes and only bill you for the ones you’ve missed. They say that “these changes will help us lay the foundations for our future plans for HITMAN” but it’s unclear what they mean at this point.