Hitman developer IO Interactive has completed a management buyout from publisher Square Enix and become an independent studio.
The news was announced on the IO Interactive website with a statement from CEO Hakan Abrak, who also announced that the studio has also retained ownership of the Hitman IP within the deal.
"There are many tales of hope, dreams, hardship and joy within these walls," said Abrak. "We have never strived for the expected or predictable. Instead, we are always in pursuit for what feels original and real. Our passion and determination has never been greater and so that is why we have decided it is not the time to stop as we have many more exciting and original tales to tell.
"Therefore I am proud to announce today that IOI is now officially an independent studio. We have successfully concluded our negotiations with Square Enix and have agreed to a management buyout. Crucially, we will keep all of the rights to the Hitman IP. We’re about to forge our own future and it’s incredibly exciting."
IO Interactive has been developing games for 19 years, including the Hitman series and also the Kayne & Lynch franchise. In 2004, the company was purchased by Eidos Interactive and took a six year hiatus from developing the Hitman franchise to work on Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. The companies association to Square Enix came when the publisher purchased Eidos in 2009.
The most recent Hitman game, simply titled Hitman, was a critical success although the episodic method used to release the game was a constant source of discussion and critique. Abrak mentions this in his statement, saying, "We have not only transformed Hitman, but also moved our entire studio into the AAA digital era. Our live product has disrupted the video game business and has received recognition and praise from press, community and our fans."
Abarak finishes his announcement with thanks to the studio’s previous partners. "I would also like to thank Square Enix; it has been a great family to be a part of and we are proud of what we have achieved together in the last eight years. IOI started as an independent studio and we will now return to those roots with an extremely passionate and talented team."