Io-Interactive has not had a good few weeks. After being with Square Enix for over seven years since the publisher acquired Eidos Interactive in 2009, Square Enix has decided to release its ownership of the Danish developer on May 11 after reporting an “extraordinary loss in the financial results” over the past year due to “content production account related to the business and impairment loss of intangible assets.” This is most certainly due to Hitman‘s unconventional release strategy and disjointed marketing, despite receiving universally agreeable reception, including from us. Overall net sales and operating income for the corporation may have been comfortably higher than 2016’s fiscal results, but its decision stands according to recently published comments by President and Representative Director Yosuke Matsuda.
Our decision to withdraw from the IO Interactive A/S business was the result of a review of our portfolio that we conducted as part of our effort to concentrate our resources in order to strengthen our development capabilities. Because the firm is engaged in the development of “HITMAN” and other renowned titles, we are negotiating with prospective external investors capable of ensuring that these titles carry on.
Up until now, Io-Interactive’s and Hitman‘s future have been incredibly uncertain. Square Enix’s vagueness about its devotion to keeping the studio and franchise alive has been concerning, and recent layoffs announced by the developer have only exacerbated the grave situation. However, the above quote allays some fears that Square Enix is leaving Io-Interactive and Hitman in the dust. This means the franchise could be sold alongside the studio, given to another publisher, or even remain within Square Enix’s hands and find a new internal or outsourced developer to take control of it. We would hope the two would remain together, considering that two more seasons were in the works. In other words, the publisher is willing to be somewhat flexible. Matsuda further elaborated on what they plan to do moving forward not only with Io-Interactive, but also its overall approach to the intellectual properties and studios it owns. This has been influenced by “mid-size titles” like NieR: Automata, which Hitman would likely fall under.
Given the nature of the competitive landscape in the Western markets as well as other considerations, we decided we needed to concentrate our development resources. The decision to withdraw from that business was the result of a review of our Group’s allocation of both financial and human resources. […] In terms of the balance between in-house efforts and outsourcing, we intend to primarily develop our major franchises in-house and to outsource mid-sized titles. It is also important to cultivate new titles, and for that reason we are also thinking about how tie-ups with external companies can help balance our mix.
We reached out to Io-Interactive to comment on the situation, but haven’t received a response thus far. We will update the article should we hear anything, but in the meantime, the team seems to be keeping its head high by focusing on development, so we can only hope for the best in this time of tumultuous transition.
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