The future of the Hitman series has been in doubt since publisher Square Enix withdrew support from series creator, IO Interactive, last month. However, the Japanese gaming giant could yet keep the famed stealth-action series alive.
Square is in the process of negotiating with new investors for IO Interactive, which at the time of the revelation suggested the Hitman series was actually in limbo, which isn’t quite as bad as being dead in the water completely.
It was assumed that Agent 47 would make the transition to another publisher alongside IO Interactive, but recent statements by Square suggest it could itself throw its support behind a series revival.
Square released a financial briefing document recently, and answered a number of questions regarding the IO Interactive sell-off and the future of Hitman.
“Because the firm is engaged in the development of Hitman and other renowned titles, we are negotiating with prospective external investors capable of ensuring that these titles carry on,” said Square Enix president, Yosuke Matsuda.
So what does that mean? It’s a fairly vague statement, but we know that at the very least, Square is working to find a partner that has the suitable talent and resources to keep the franchise active and of a high standard.
It doesn’t tell us whether Square’s intentions are merely to auction off the IP to a new developer with itself attached as publisher, or if it intends to develop it in-house.
The statement may mean that IO Interactive remains the sole license holder, and that Square is looking to sell the studio to someone intent on reboot Hitman.
That would be an act of simply good faith, but the promise of a popular Hitman franchise — and the interest the perceived death of the franchise generated — could very well boost interest in the IP and the studio that created it.
But it’s not like Square needed that to gauge interest in Hitman.
IO Interactive’s contentious approach to its six-episode Hitman season appeared to have worked wonders for the studio and publisher Square Enix, even if sales didn’t quite meet the publisher’s expectations.
Speaking with Gamergen back in November, production director, Hakan Abrak, confirmed that the team had started work on a second season.
“Yes, there is a second season,” Abrak said. He explained the IO Interactive was moving towards a “high-fidelity sandbox”, in which players can roam freely and come up with unique and creative ways to complete an objective.
It’s clear that IO Interactive was at the very least in planning stages with a second season of Hitman before Square Enix threw the curveball. Here’s hoping the series can stay alive and active for years to come.