Eight years after becoming Io Interactive’s parent company, Square Enix began looking for a buyer of the games developer as a preference to shelving them altogether. Things were looking gloomy indeed for Io Interactive as a statement came out of Square Enix, saying “there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully."
Come the end of June, about six weeks after these troubling talks began (and after the hit success of Io’s latest Hitman title) Io made a welcome and unexpected about turn. Its CEO, Hakan Abrak, opted to perform a management buyout at Io Interactive, in turn severing ties with Square Enix. With Io Interactive’s demise seemingly on the horizon, this swift and decisive move has ensured its survival and of course, that of Agent 47’s continued existence.
In this transition, Abrak confirms that Io Interactive has lost the rights to Kane & Lynch and Mini Ninjas. Though, it would be fair to say, those franchises would not be as sorely missed as Hitman. On the other side of what was surely a troubling speed bump for Hakan Abrak, he states confidently “Look, we feel like we're onto a good thing with our latest Hitman game," he says. "We've changed how we work, and as a studio we've never felt more confident and more in control of knowing what we're doing. I think our Game of the Year Edition is a testament to that. We learned so much during the first season of this game, and by the end we felt like a well-oiled machine."
Abrak believes the development and release style of the latest iteration of Hitman will pave the way to a more successful future for Io Interactive. “We created a digital, ever-expanding platform with Hitman, which meant that we released more than 50 updates last year alone. Frequent release of content, challenges and live events really exceeded all expectations. With every content update we saw more and more players joining. All of that content took a herculean effort from the dev team, and it paid off… We learned a lot that will make the experience even better for the next game in the Hitman universe.”