We all remember when Square Enix announced that it is looking for a buyer for IO Interactive and Hitman franchise, with them becoming an independent studio and ditching Square Enix’s episodic structure for the game. Yosuke Matsuda revealed back then that the company could not support the franchise since they wanted to spend more resources on its Marvel games. Now, Matsuda reveals that Hitman wouldn’t be the same without IO Interactive.
In a recent interview with gamesindustry.biz, Square Enix president and CEO Yosuke Matsuda had the opportunity to talk about Hitman as a project in the company and why they decided to let go of the studio. As he revealed, he loves the franchise and wanted IO Interactive to continue developing the game but since they couldn’t invest any more resources on it, they decided to let them work with another partner.
Although Hitman  was very well received, when we thought about having to invest in the second and third seasons and we considered the scale of investment required to do that, and we also had to consider any conflicts with resources allocated to other titles, we decided it would be quite challenging. It’s for that reason we decided an MBO or another partner would be the best way to continue it.
Matsuda wasn’t excited about this decision though and didn’t take it lightly. He wanted the studio to “decide the future of Hitman based on their own free will”. Letting IO Interactive keep the IP showed that Square Enix was supportive of the franchise and didn’t want to just watch it “die” at their hands, something that is commonly seen in the industry like it happened with Silent Hills and Konami.
The decision to give the franchise IP to IO Interactive took place because Matsuda thinks that the franchise wouldn’t be Hitman anymore with its development team.
It’s because I believe it wouldn’t be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by IO. I love the game, and I believe the fans of Hitman think it’s only Hitman if it’s made by IO. So I thought that was the best way for the game to continue, and that’s why we were supportive of the MBO and of course didn’t mind if they continued to use the IP.
According to the devs, season 2 of the game will feature new locations and more. According to Hakan Abrak, Studio production director at IO Interactive, Season 2 will be arriving with new locations and cities along with more free content like Elusive Targets and Escalation Missions.