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Square Enix Ends Its Business With Hitman Developer IO Interactive

Posted on May 12, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Square Enix included a statement in its’ recent year-end financial report that the publisher will be seeking to end its’ business relationship with Hitman creators IO Interactive.

In their brief statement that accompanied their financial report Square says that they have made this decision to “maximize player satisfaction” and their “market potential”. Interestingly this decision took effect on March 31st of this year but now nearly two months later we are hearing about Square Enix to part ways with IO only now.

Here is part of their statement:

“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. This decision has resulted in booking of the extraordinary loss amounting to 4,898 million yen, including disposition of the content production account related to the business and impairment loss of intangible assets, in the financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017”

IO Interactive originated as an independent developer before being purchased by Eidos Interactive around the time of the release of Hitman: Blood Money in 2006.  Ownership of IO passed on to Square when they merged with Enix in 2009.

IO Interactive’s most recent title was a reimagining of their popular Hitman franchise as an episodic title that was released over the course of a number of months. Despite some pre-release worry about the episodic format not fitting with the franchise’s past, IO was able to capitalize on the core mechanics of the stealth series and combine it with an online-enabled achievements system to provide the player with an ever changing rewarding experience.  When I played the first episode after the game’s closed beta last year I found it to be quite enjoyable and eventually ended up purchasing the first three episodes of 2016’s Hitman.

In their statement, Square Enix reported that the end of the business relationship with IO Interactive and the cancellation of their existing projects resulted in SE reporting a 43.79 million $ USD loss. SE is currently seeking new investors for IO Interactive but as of press time, it is not known if IO or Square will retain the rights to the franchise. We also do not know what the end of this developer/publisher relationship means for the proposed Season 2 & Season 3 of Hitman.



Beta Report: Hitman on PlayStation 4

Posted on February 14, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Square Enix’s closed beta for their upcoming next generation Hitman title went live over the weekend and I got the chance to play around with the game on PlayStation 4 over the last couple of nights. Fans are calling 2016’s version of Agent 47 a return to form combined with some worries that IO Interactive’s choice of episodic content for their latest game may leave them with little content to play between optional updates.  If the closed beta is any indication than even the $15 intro pack will provide hours of shenanigans.

At its core, Hitman is an assassination simulator where players are rewarded for executing inventive kills with little room for error. Unlike other stealth titles, like say Metal Gear Solid, 47 isn’t able to down a ration to gain back his health. One bullet from an enemy is enough to send good old baldy to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The method of eliminating a target is just as important as the deposal of the evidence. If a player chooses to lace a target’s drink with rat poison be prepared to suit up as their personal waiter because often the key to a successful hit is being able to blend in with your surroundings and knowing who to impersonate.


Hitman’s closed beta featured two prologue missions set during Agent 47’s initiation into the ICA. The first training mission has 47 boarding a mock cruise-liner, creatively constructed out of planks of wood, in order to eliminate his target. The open-world nature of the game becomes readily apparent – sure Agent 47 could run headlong onto the cruiser but surely the party guests would I was out of my element within seconds. During my multiple trials at this mission I found two different ways to gain access to the boat: Pose as a member of the maintenance crew and slip in undetected through the engine bay or pretend I was a part of the security detail and walk right up through the entrance ramp.

After some trial and error I had a rough chain of individuals that I would direct 47 to knock out, pose as and blend to get to my target. This, is of course, easier said than done because it can mean either waiting for the mechanic or cook that I needed to become to enter a place on the map that wasn’t surrounded with NPCs or creating a distraction to lure them away from whatever activity they were currently doing. To make the stealth element of assassination even more prominent there are a number of NPCs marked on your HUD that can detect Agent 47 even through a disguise. Not only do potential contract killers need to plan out their disguises ahead of time but also need to be able to navigate through a sea of NPCs that is ever changing all without arousing suspicion.

Throughout my four hours with the Hitman Beta I completed maybe 10% of the feats & challenges on offer. Once you’ve successfully completed a mission once you unlock the option to replay the same mission but with a list of pre-defined ways to kill your target. One might have you cause a short in a projector – thus frying your target, another might have you modifying an ejection seat so that it appears your target died in apparent aircraft malfunction. The sheer variety of toys and methods of mayhem did provide a level of replayability I wasn’t expecting from what is essentially just the opening tutorial to an episodic game that hasn’t been released. I also had the games’ music completely disappear on me once and the entire application lock up my PlayStation 4 in another  instance – clearly this was not final code that IO Interactive invited players to try. Hopefully, they’ll get some of these kinks ironed out before Agent 47 makes his first trip to Paris in the debut of Hitman on March 11th.

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Hitman: Absolution Video: Dynamic Audio

Posted on October 29, 2012 by Jesse Lord

Just a quick news post to highlight a video sent to my inbox this morning by our contacts at Square Enix.  Called “Dynamic Audio,” this clip emphasizes the work that goes into creating the aural mood in a game like Hitman: Absolution.  I personally find that music in video games is one of the biggest influences on me and my enjoyment of the game.  Couple a touching scene with the right music and you’ve got something that truly pulls on my heart-strings and could even see a tear roll down my cheek.  Get a nice high-beats-per-minute track down in an action sequence and my grip on the controller tightens, my pupils dilate and my pulse quickens.  But enough from me – check out the video below!

[youtube id=”Xq8UQM9HNXU” width=”600″ height=”338″]


Hitman: Absolution | Introducing The Kill

Posted on October 4, 2012 by Jesse Lord

IO Interactive, developers of Hitman: Absolution, have released another “INTRODUCING” video, this time showing all of us the multifarious ways in which we can dispatch our targets.  True to the assassin’s code, killing is very easy, but the rub is getting away without being found or accused.  Some people might like going in guns-blazing and leaving no one left to ask questions or make accusations, but others might like making things look like an accident.  Perhaps others would take a complete stealth approach, getting alone with the target, relieving him or her of their life and disposing of the body so no one is the wiser.  But enough from me right now – here’s the video:

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18 Minutes Of Hitman: Absolution Contracts Gameplay Trailer

Posted on September 28, 2012 by Joshua Rust

Most of us were a bit worried when multiplayer was announced for Hitman: Absolution. Let’s face it, some games are meant to remain single player. But that decision for Hitman: Absolution is not mine to make for you…you can make your own judgements by watching this 18 minute gameplay trailer!

[youtube id=”VgZNc6cKyzs” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Hitman: Absolution is due out November 20th. Do you think multiplayer was a good move for this game?


Voice Actor Chosen for Agent 47

Posted on August 28, 2012 by Jesse Lord

In a move that might surprise those who have been following the title closely, Square Enix have announced that David Bateson is going to reprise his role as Agent 47 in the upcoming Hitman: Absolution.  Originally the publisher had declared that he would not be voicing the character, but things have changed, as they tend to do in this industry.  Full press release follows after the jump.

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