Earlier this year, Square Enix and IO Interactive parted ways, with the latter going its own way and transitioning into an independent studio. This has obviously taken some adjusting, which IO CEO, Hakan Abrak has shed some light on this week, while also revealing which IP IO lost during the break-up from Square Enix.
In an interview with gamesindustry.biz this week, Hakan Abrak spoke a bit about IO Interactive’s decision to go independent. At first, the studio was “in awe” at the level of interest from publishers and investors but ultimately decided to go through with the management buyout to “feel, breathe and act independently”.
“We need to be free to embrace and live directly with our fans and community, and free to make fundamental decisions for the studio and our games, within our own halls”, he said. “We believe that being independent makes us far more attractive to work with, when it comes to the motivation to succeed with our games.”
During the buyout, IO Interactive made it a priority to secure the rights to the Hitman IP. It succeeded in doing so and has already begun work on the next game, which will further refine the episodic and live service format introduced last year.
“Look, we feel like we’re onto a good thing with our latest Hitman game. 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.”
The Hitman GOTY edition is actually the first self-published title from IO Interactive, meaning that all revenue generated by it goes straight to the studio, with Square Enix collecting no royalties. Going forward, IO Interactive will be focusing on the online, digital-first model it introduced with Hitman.
There were some losses during the divorce from Square Enix though. IO Interactive no longer owns the rights to Kane & Lynch or Mini Ninjas. It does continue to own ‘Freedom Fighters’ though, which was a shooter set in a version of New York City controlled by the Soviet Union. Right now the focus is on Hitman, but it is encouraging to know that IO has something else under its belt that it could bring back.
KitGuru Says: I really enjoyed last year’s Hitman game and now that IO is completely independent, it will be very interesting to see what happens with the next season of content.