One of the biggest video game-related news of the year undoubtedly was Square Enix’s decision to get rid of IO Interactive, the studio behind the Hitman franchise. This puzzled many people taking into account that the series has sold millions of copies to date, several Hollywood movies based on the games have hit theatres over the years and the fact that last year’s Hitman game is arguably the series’ best to date.
And former IO Interactive developer Martin Emborg (who now runs his own studio Ultra Ultra) said as much during a recent interview with PCGamesN, stating that he has “no idea” why Japanese publisher chose to kick out IO Interactive of their family of video game developers.
“They seemed to deliver on stuff that was promised since the first game really, but never materialised, and it jived super well with the format that they went with. So you really got this modern Hitman game they had promised before, and after that, the split?”, said Emborg.
Emborg also said he was puzzled about the fact that Square Enix would choose to get rid of a studio with experience in delivering a AAA episodic game, especially taking into account that their upcoming Final Fantasy VII will be episodic too.
But arguably it was Hitman’s episodic release that led to its not so great sales last year, even if it actually was one of 2016’s best games and has recently surpassed the 5 million player mark according to IO, although this likely has mostly to do with the fact that the tutorial missions are now free to play.
Also, no matter how much people like to praise Hitman 2016, it’s clear this game wasn’t as accessible or cinematic as the earlier Hitman: Absolution (the best-selling Hitman to date), a game with far more commercial appeal than last year’s entry.
But still, IO is now an independent studio and free to chart its own path, and Martin Emborg now feels the Danish studio might do “something crazy” with the franchise. Actually, as reported on thisisxbox.com, IO might now be looking to bring multiplayer to Hitman, something that the studio has not attempted before, which may or may not appeal to long-time fans of the stealth and assassination game.
Nonetheless, as long as IO keeps making great games as an independent studio, Hitman fans will surely be happy in the future.