The future of the Hitman series is in doubt, with publisher Square Enix withdrawing its support for franchise creator, IO Interactive.
That would put the Japanese gaming giant at a huge loss of $43 million USD, Gematsu notes, which many believe is a byproduct of the recent episodic Hitman games’ disappointing commercial performance.
Square says it is negotiating with new investors for IO Interactive, so that doesn’t mean the Hitman franchise is dead, but if no suitable buyers are found, Agent 47 could go under with the studio that created him.
IO Interactive and Square have made efforts to reinvigorate the Hitman franchise in recent years.
In 2012, Hitman: Absolution looked set to bring the franchise in a new direction. While critical reception was mostly positive, the title failed to reach sales targets.
Square decided to mix things up with the next Hitman game, although such was the disastrous response from consumers, it appears the decision to split the game up sealed Agent 47’s fate.
Seven different episodes were released throughout 2016, and while they were all generally well received by critics and gamers alike, the release schedule appeared to hurt the game’s appeal.
This led to the small chunks of Hitman being ignored by gamers, and Square Enix taking a huge hit on the investment in the process.
“To maximize player satisfaction as well as market potential going forward, we are focusing our resources and energies on key franchises and studios,” the publisher said in a statement. “As a result, [Square Enix] 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.”
Hitman now faces an uncertain future, joining another Square-published game in Deus Ex that was also recently put on ice following the disappointing commercial performance of 2016’s Mankind Divided.