Square Enix, best known for its Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series, has decided to part ways with IO Interactive, the developer behind the iconic Hitman franchise.
Square Enix said the decision was made so the company can “focus our resources and energies on key franchises and studios.” The severed partnership has been in effect since March 31, 2017, the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year. An extraordinary loss of $43 million was recorded on Square Enix’s balance sheet.
The Japanese publisher is already seeking new investors to ensure the continued prosperity of IO Interactive. Square Enix had this to say on the matter: “Whilst there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully, they are being explored since this is in the best interests of our shareholders, the studio and the industry as a whole.”
IO Interactive was acquired by Square Enix in 2009 when Square Enix purchased Eidos, the original company to acquire IO Interactive in 2003. Under Square Enix’s umbrella, IO Interactive launched four games: Mini Ninjas, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Hitman: Absolution, and Hitman. The latter title was 2016’s episodic iteration of the company’s most iconic intellectual property. Episodes were delivered to players digitally, with live events and challenges taking place between each episode.
Following the full digital release of the episodic series, Square Enix released a boxed edition, packing the entire season onto a disc, which released earlier this year. While figures detailing the game’s success or failure were never disclosed, the title was named 2016’s eleventh best game by Eurogamer. Giant Bomb rated Hitman as the best game of the year in 2016.