Square Enix Severs Ties With Hitman Developer
Hitman IO Interactive
(Last Updated On: May 11, 2017)

IO Interactive are now free agents in the development space. The Danish studio is no longer housed under the Square Enix publishing label. The company sent out a note to investors informing them of the severed ties to IO Interactive.

Xbox Achievements picked up the short note that was posted over on the official Square Enix website, where Square’s president and representative director, Yosuke Matsuda, briefly stated…

“To maximize player satisfaction as well as market potential going forward, we are focusing our resources and energies on key franchises and studios. As a result, the Company 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.”

Quite naturally a lot of gamers took to social media to ask exactly what this means for the second season of the episodic Hitman series?

IO Interactive ended the first season on a cliffhanger.

Obviously the total cumulative sales of the episodic approach just didn’t quite work out as well as they may have hoped. Sales wise, the game’s various episodes managed to rack up a total of 630,000 owners over on Steam, according to Steam Spy.

Of course, this doesn’t really speak at all to the sales volume spread across the Xbox One and PS4, and how much of that contributed to the bottom line. Consoles usually double the software sales of PC. So if they were similar to PC on the digital front but had additional sales from the physical releases, then the game could have roughly did just under 3 million in total. If they were a lot more than PC, then it could have done just over 3 million.

Either way, the total results was not something that pleased Square Enix at all, and they decided to dump IO Interactive. This isn’t too dissimilar to what happened with Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of Tomb Raider under the Eidos label, where Game Rant reported that the game did over 3.8 million the first month out and it was considered “disappointing”, according to Square Enix.

The days of the AAA titles dominating the market seem to be coming to an end, and old studios definitely seem to be in a situation where they may need to focus more engaging content that lures a lot of gamers as opposed to relying solely on brand recognition and the clout of a budget to stay competitive in today’s industry.

(Main image courtesy of Dr.DesperaDoS)


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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Alistair

    Another factor when it comes that triple A titles has lost it shine over the years.

    Way befrore ecchi and hentai come about, it was all about Call of duty, GTA fallout 3 etc etc.But now the games especially the ones that use episodes that always “Needs” shoehorn regression social justice bullshit in the games.

    And with Added censorship turns gamers off.

  • fnd

    I pirated the game but i didn’t care enough to make it past episode 4 onwards. And i did finish Hitman Absolution, Contracts, Silent assassin and Blood Money LMAO

  • GuyGuysonEsquire

    Gee whiskers, maybe releasing games in unfinished state has something to do with low sales?

    Nah, must be pirates! Install new always-online limited installs DRM on all new games, this will make us a fortune! And release new games in Early Access, too! /s

  • Alistair

    Didn’t square enix bought IO that also bought edios.

    Now SE has decided to brush them off. Because IO has Always been a SE Games and no other companies.

  • We’re going to see the AAA bubble burst at some point within the next decade. It can’t sustain itself at this rate.

    • ScarredBushido

      yup. not every company can make GTA money. this is why im glad japan still makes budget games

    • SevTheBear

      Yeah didn’t Cliff bleszinski say that AA was next step?

      • Yup, the middle market. The industry needs a downgrade for it to sustain itself.

        • I just don’t understand why it had to go away to begin with? The middle market, or the single-A titles were always the ones that buffered sales between big AAA releases. That’s what made the PS2 era such a beastly era for great games, and it’s what helped pad out libraries during the early half of seventh gen.

          The execs who run the big pubs are just out and out idiots, it just can’t really be said any simpler than that.

          • I blame the technological boom to some extent. Throw as much money as possible at the graphics and make no room for smaller games. The reason the indie market blew up is precisely because the middle market collapsed. Either way, game libraries have shrunk significantly this generation.

          • Waifu Engineering

            Um, game libraries have multiplied gazillion times with trash games instead.

          • Because of the indie market, mostly.

          • Phasmatis75

            Okay here’s the problem as pointed out by people in the industry.

            Before video games used to be made by gamers. More or less publishing houses were staffed by gamers or knew not to get in their way while keeping the reigns on tight so they didn’t blow the budget.

            Then gaming became profitable and investors and Microsoft came into the market. Now companies are ran by people put in place by investors whom don’t know the market. They get their advice from marketing whom aren’t in the market long enough to know what to make, so every single title has to be a safe sell for the investors.

            Now developers are using digital distribution to bypass publishers and we’re seeing the rise of new publishing houses and older less known ones grow in strength from the lower end markets.

          • Alistair

            But the thing is we need AAA Titles still, do you what ugly cheap buget games that look clap and play crap.

            Gameplay before the graphics and story and soundtrack.

            But i seen games that are not AAA that look like shit.

            Do you like nier automata and Persona 5 that consider Japanese AAA Titles.

            Edit: And I not meaning the niche ecchi/Hentai titles but mostly Indie titles some good some ugly. But when sony use indie games as a plus sub free games then it is a issue.

          • Phasmatis75

            I’ve always gamed. I always will game. Right now the best experiences aren’t AAA and if I would go back in time and tell my younger self that during the PS2 era. That we’d be more excited for a A tier release and consider just about every AAA game garbage, he’d never believe me.

          • Alistair

            Never wrong with AAA titles, if done proper.

            Is life is strange a AAA title No it not and we all know what that is.

            Is the telltale games a AAA title no it not, with its social justice. I’m more mindful about telltales games as I never bought the batman or the game of thrones. Because of it and they weren’t AAA titles.

          • Phasmatis75

            Life is Strange and Telltale would classify as A tier games.

  • LurkerJK

    They screwed the game with that stupid episodic idea, then they screwed it again by not ending the story to tease a season 2 and now they complain they did not have enough sales ? Lol

    • durka durka

      and they screwed you with always online requirment to be able to unlock stuff.

      Fuck the consumer up the ass and maybe some money wil poor out. They cant blame piracy for this one the game was cracked like what? Last month?

      • lucben999

        And even if you’re online unlocking stuff is a drag, you’ll be bored of the mission before you unlock the toys you want to try.

      • LurkerJK

        I also forgot about the time limited access to the special missions for no reason

  • Keystone

    Probably for the best since Square Enix has been more of a hinderance to the game devs working under them lately; I.E. forcing Mankind Divided’s devs to put in that dumb Breach mode, and blatantly cutting the game in half.

  • Phasmatis75

    The game cost Square Enix $42,914,463. It was a massive flop because of it’s episodic nature. Steam only records those that have purchased the introductory episode, so a lot of those sales have never touched the DLC.

    To correct a point in your article that would be sales close to 1.8 million if matched on the other platforms which did not have the same sales steam had for the game.

    • To correct a point in your article that would be sales close to 1.8 million if matched on the other platforms which did not have the same sales steam had for the game.

      I did a poor arse job of clarifying that… I was also considering the physical bundle release for the consoles, which would have been counted separate from the digital episodic releases. I’ll try to make that point a bit clearer, but yeah… if the sales were equal across the board it would fall just under 2 mil. Usually console releases scale just a bit higher than PC depending on the game but I didn’t explain that well at all.

      • Phasmatis75

        Depends on the game, Skyrim sold vastly better on PC than any other platform. RTS’s tend to do better on PC as well. Normally you get parity unless there is something wrong with the PC version. That is Pc to PS4, and PC to Xbox One, not counting them together.

  • ScarredBushido

    not too surprised. i’ll be honest, the game was really good and reminded me of old Hitman BUT i forgot nearly every month that there was a new ep and the story was all over the place imo. Episodic content is not a good thing.

    • durka durka

      the question is how ubisoft will survive each rehash they make sells less and less.

      • I think the Vivendi buyout is inevitable at this point.

        The question is: will Vivendi continue on the path of SJWism or will they attempt to force Ubisoft to cater to the core gamer market again?

        • Phasmatis75

          My money is on them purging the SJWs. Vivendi strikes me as a soulless money grubbing company. They’re the reason Activsion became how it is. SJWism doesn’t sell and it has killed the Ubisoft brand. It’s going to change for the pure fact that it will be ran by people who are put in place to just make money.

          • Yeah there’s no denying that under Vivendi, Activision was still making money hand over fist with annual outings and loads of DLC. Not much has changed except that Blizzard seems to have a lot more freedom.

            Ubisoft, alternatively, decided to drink the Kool-Aid and now they’re reaping the non-benefits of catering to the Social Justice crowd. I imagine Vivendi will tighten up the ship, go back to annual Assassin’s Creed outings. Standardize them a bit more to cater to target demographics (likely get a competent market research team to run core demographic focus group testing) or alternate between Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed if not on an annual basis, a bi-annual basis.

            DLC will be a lot more frequent, and I have no idea if they’ll lessen support of Uplay or strengthen it. Steam is where the money is and any smart investor would tell Ubisoft to kill off the Uplay DRM and just stick with Steam; it’s more cost effective and requires less long-term overhead: A fire and forget approach with long term tail-ends reaped from DLC and discount sales would be the way to go.

            Sadly, I’m looking forward to Vivendi picking up Ubisoft if it means no more SJW games… even if it comes at the expense of turning Ubisoft into Activision.

          • Phasmatis75

            Agreed with your assessment. It’s what I see happening except that Assassin’s Creed is finished as a series after the next installment of “WE Waz Kangz.” The series has run it’s course and no longer ships products, so depending on how poorly the next game does and it’s going full kangzs so even the normie market will avoid it for political reasons.

            If I had to venture a guess, it will be Watchdogs and Farcry switching off with Watchdogs being the new Assassin’s Creed series depending on if it is salvageable. All things considered probably not, so we might see some new IPs of the same core ideas under different names or maybe some new stuff that gets serialized. Under Vivendi, Activision at least released 1 or 2 new IPs a year to go along with their blockbusters.

          • Man I forgot about Watch Dogs. You’re right… if it’s salvageable they’ll likely run to that. Expect more marketing on Just Dance as well, it’s popular with casuals and investors love them some casual meal tickets to market exploitation.

          • Phasmatis75

            Don’t know how they’re going to salvage Watch Dogs short of massive marketing campaign. I’d be money on them serializing Beyond Good and Evil and South Park as well if they perform well.

          • They could switch up protagonists again, even set it in a cyberpunk future (since that’s likely going to be the next go-to theme from AAA devs).

            I would even be willing to give Watch Dogs a try again if they took that route. Interactivity wise there was some good infrastructure in place, especially for the multiplayer modes. A futuristic Watch Dogs with a hard-edged storyline could actually work. Technically, I think Watch Dogs is more salvageable than Assassin’s Creed at this point, but a lot of it will boil down to who the creative lead and the writers are (despite criticisms, Ubisoft has fairly competent design staff when it comes to core mechanics).

            As for serialization of Beyond Good and Evil? I don’t know. Mind-share for that series has always been big but market-share has always been fairly low. But meh, maybe a good marketing campaign could make it profitable.

            South Park? Seems like a total toss up. I’m guessing a lot of it depends on how they can milk it.

          • Phasmatis75

            I get your point, but I am less convinced of Watch Dogs capacity to be reformed as a brand from a marketing standpoint. The first game outright pissed off consumers by being a crappy downgrade of the trailers with an unlikable protagonist. The sequel faired much worse by being Millennial SJWs the game. That kind of brand issue isn’t easy to fix and we already saw a 60%-80% market drop for Watch Dogs 2.

            It’d be smarter to ax the Watch Dogs brand and world, go with your cyber punk idea and give it a new name. A clean slate to redo their world building that they killed with Watch Dogs 2.

            Assassin’s Creed is done though. 3 killed it, Black Flag shouldn’t have been one, and the politics they kept jamming into the series just put it in its grave. The new “we waz kangz” game is going to be such a social nightmare I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the worse selling in the franchises history.

            Well Good and Evil 2 is supposedly in the works. There is a good chance if it is solid that because of the word of mouth of the first it might get some good traction. If that happens, a big if, it could be serialized. Not yearly releases, but a new one maybe 2-3 years apart.

            South Park is a go to brand. Once they nail down the budget and reach it’ll be an easily serialized franchise. Unfortunately the SJW management of Ubisoft don’t seem to like the game, so the owners of the brand might not want to work with Ubisoft anymore.

            Ubisofts core designers are hacks. The ones that designed Far Cry 2’s systems are long gone from the company. Each new iterations of their game either rip off features from other series and implement them poorly, or is another cookie cutter Ubisoft game with a single unique mechanic that is ultimately underwhelming.

          • That kind of brand issue isn’t easy to fix and we already saw a 60%-80% market drop for Watch Dogs 2.

            Yeah but the one thing that most gamers took away from the experience is that it still has potential, just like with the original Titanfall, which may have seemed lame to me but for the people who played it they enjoyed it. I’m pretty sure had EA positioned Titanfall 2 away from CoD/Battlefield it would have fared much better on the market.

            In Watch Dogs case, the first one was considered a competent but lacking clone of GTA. The sequel had some okay elements but they went too hard on the hipster nonsense. People with the impression that Watch Dogs can be fun but they need the right theme might be wooed with a third game that nails the gameplay down right and is marketed properly.

            Despite usually being a poorly done series, even Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 managed to lure some gamers in by promoting some upgrades and improvements over the last iteration. So if that series could recover, I imagine there’s hope for Watch Dogs considering that the core gameplay at least works.

            Well Good and Evil 2 is supposedly in the works. There is a good chance if it is solid that because of the word of mouth of the first it might get some good traction. If that happens, a big if, it could be serialized. Not yearly releases, but a new one maybe 2-3 years apart.

            I don’t know… Good and Evil was a media darling, but a majority of gamers just didn’t care much about it. In today’s climate, over-promoting the sequel as another female-led adventure game would likely hurt sales more than help it.

          • Phasmatis75

            Potential doesn’t sell and brand recognition does. Watch Dogs as a brand is toxic and since the in series lore is now a complete mess with the series being considered “That hacking SJW anti Trump game” it’s not a wise idea to slap the name Watch Dogs on anything else.

            Promoting it as improved might get 20 to 40 percent of the audience back, but that’d still be 40-20 percent under the sales of the original. Not that Ubisoft is above lying. They just released non GAAP accounting performance statements claiming they’re making millions. Electronic Arts did this same thing while they were losing 200 million a year.
            http://wccftech.com/ubisofts-financial-year-results-record-highs-for-fy17/

            I’m sure you are aware of how poorly their recent sales have been.

            Good and Evil was okay, pretty decent game, but the new game looks to be featuring the Pig not the girl. Marketing wise it would be a good idea to focus on it being the sequel to the cult hit rather than it’s protagonists gender if they were going to go with a female character.