Square Enix CEO has high hopes for Hitman despite parting ways with creator

Earlier this summer, Japanese publisher Square Enix parted ways with developer IO Interactive, which is best known for creating the Hitman series. The split saw IO retain control of the Hitman series and the recent Hitman reboot, but despite Square Enix’s decision to drop the franchise, CEO Yosuke Matsuda still believes it can succeed.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Matsuda explained that investing in subsequent seasons of the Hitman series wouldn’t have made financial sense for Square Enix despite the commercial success of the original release, and he hinted that this could be in part due to the company’s recent deal to produce games based on Marvel Comics properties.  However, Matsuda acknowledged that Hitman still had legs if it could be properly funded, and so it opted to give IO Interactive control of the intellectual property when the two split.

“A decision had to be made in terms of our relationship with the Hitman team,” Matsuda said. “I wanted them to continue to develop the game, but I thought in terms of investing further in the game, it would be best if they worked with another partner other than ourselves.”

Since the split was made, IO Interactive wasted no time in producing — and re-releasing — content for the game. The “Elusive Targets,” which appeared as timed challenges in 2016, returned earlier in November so new players had a chance to take them out, as did the exclusive rewards given out for those who succeed.

“I love the game, and I believe the fans of Hitman think it’s only Hitman if it’s made by IO,” Matsuda said. “So I thought that was the best way for the game to continue, and that’s why we were supportive of the [management buyout] and of course didn’t mind if they continued to use the IP.”

Hitman is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Its “Game of the Year Edition” includes a new story campaign dubbed “Patient Zero,” which takes places on the existing Bangkok, Sapienza, Colorado, and Hokkaido maps. A successor to the game — either a second season or a full sequel — is also in the works, but IO is currently tight-lipped on a release date.

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